In July, I started scouting for elk. I started early because this was the first year I’d be focusing on elk. I tend to have mule deer fever and that is all I can concentrate on. This being the case, I didn’t have a good elk spot. Hunting public land in Colorado can be competitive so finding a spot is done mostly through using brain power and a more than a little bit of sweat. Here are a few tools that can help you scout and hunt smarter, not harder.
OnX Hunt Maps
Concurrently with the start of scouting, I learned that the Sisterhood of the Outdoors would be partnering with OnX Hunt maps and I would be one of the people working with OnX. I was excited at the prospect as I had tried OnX during turkey season in Nebraska so I would know I was on the correct properties as I navigated a new spot.
On my first weekend of scouting, I took the OnX out in Colorado to give it a spin. I used the application (app) on my phone to mark the spots I placed my trail cameras.
The next week, I went back to check my cameras…unfortunately I didn’t pay close attention to make sure my waypoints were where I was standing so they weren’t exactly where I marked them but I found them easily and learned a new feature of the mapping app. One of my favorite features of this app is that you can sign in on your computer from home and pick out spots you’d like to go when you are in the field. In Colorado, OnX has layers for topographical maps, satellite, game management units, harvest data, private land and walk in access. Each state has different layer options. Virtual scouting is just another weapon you can add to your arsenal.
I used this app to find a meadow that looked like amazing elk habitat and I was able to calculate how far it was from the places I’d been as well as identify access points (graphic shown is not the real meadow, sorry if I chose your hunting area). This meadow ended up being elk central and the camera I placed there was capturing hundreds of pictures of elk each week.
Browning Trail Cameras - Command Ops Pro
I ordered a few of the new 2018 Browning Trail Cameras Command Ops Pro cameras (Retail $119.99) for elk and deer hunting this year.
I put up 3 cameras in my new place--I’m not sure you can ever have enough cameras-- and captured pictures of deer, bears, moose and of course elk. That first week, I had a cinnamon bear on one of my cameras nearly every day and it led me to buy a bear tag when I wouldn’t likely have otherwise. I captured 40 pictures of elk; I was so excited. Throughout the scouting season, it just kept getting better and better. Imagine walking up to your camera and seeing this after 2 weeks...
I went into opening day of elk having a good idea of elk movement and their patterns. It put me in a position to be the only one of the ten hunters that I spoke with who even saw an elk. That is priceless, hunting is never a slam dunk, it is hard and I am so glad that I put in the work to get and use these cameras.
OnX Hunt has changed my hunting this year, I know when I am close and how close I am to boundaries I can’t cross. I was able to use the knowledge that I gained from the maps and my cameras to put myself in place to be in the thick of elk on opening morning of Colorado elk. As I listened to the other hunters at the trailhead complain about how there were no elk, I knew better because I used my tools. You can subscribe to OnX through the app on your phone or at the website. An annual Premium subscription for 1 state is $29.99, or you can buy an Elite subscription for $14.99 a month or $99 for the year. Don’t forget to hunt smarter, not harder.