Elk hunting requires a specialized approach, but the guns and gear used are not uncommon. You may need to buy a little gear, but chances are you already own a capable rifle for the job. On this episode I talk about the equipment you need to hunt elk.

Take Aways

  • A magnum rifle is certainly fine for the job, but many hunters shoot worse with a bigger gun.
  • Do not just go out and buy a heavy caliber for elk hunting, you need to train with big calibers for years, mastering how to use them effectively. Else you are better off with less gun.
  • The most common range for taking a shot at an elk for most hunters is 100-200 yards. You should train for that.
  • Practice shooting off hand, after hiking or climbing, and in various positions and circumstances.
  • A 308, 30-06, and 270 are very common calibers that are all ideal choices for elk with the right bullets.
  • Use high quality bullets rated for game of this size, a Nosler Partition is a great place to start.
  • When it comes to gear, boots make all the difference. YOU MUST have good boots, and two pairs of them. You must break the boots in well in advance, hiking miles and tens of miles in them regularly.
  • Base layers are the next very important piece, you need something that doesn’t itch, that will keep you warm when wet, doesn’t stink and wicks moisture and evaporates it quickly. Merino wool is the best option. I recommend the First Lite 150 wick or 250 kiln base layers.
  • Good socks also make a world of difference, again merino wool is the best. I recommend Darn Tough socks because of their lifetime guarantee.
  • You should bring 4 pairs of hunting socks. One to wear into the field, one to change into at mid-day, and two for the next day. So you can rotate and your socks will always have a day to dry, just like your boots.
  • Beyond that, you need some pants, nothing fancy, just something ripstop that can take walking through brush.
  • Coat wise, you will want something windproof, because it will be windy, but it doesn’t have to be too fancy.
  • Then it is just a matter of layers, adding them and taking them off throughout the day. Keep extra room in your pack for when you take layers off.
  • Depending on the weather, a good pair of gators can help keep your feet and pants try and free of debris, snow, and wear.
  • Have multiple hat options so you can adjust over the course of the day. And of course you’ll need some gloves, binoculars, a knife, food, water, etc.
  • The biggest thing you should do is ask your guide, outfitter, or local friends what to expect weather wise and what gear you should bring.
  • Do not go based on the forecast of the closest major city, in the country and at higher elevations, the conditions can be very different.
  • Listen to the episode for more info!

There are different ways to hunt elk based on the terrain, habitat, and what your opportunities are. In this episode I talk about how to hunt less than ideal areas, unconventional tactics, and the most common way elk are pursued

Elk are most often hunted on foot, hiking, covering ground, glassing big areas, and pushing through rough terrain. But that is not the only way to hunt them, it is just usually the best way.

Elk are sometimes ambush hunted. If you have limited property or access points, you can scout for the freshest sign in pinch points, travel corridors or near food, study the wind, and settle in to an ambush point.

Believe it or not, elk are sometimes hunted from fixed position tree stands or hunting blinds. This typically works best in more wooded or rural areas where there is less migration and big heard movement and the elk have become more accustomed to living around people. I would say this is less than 5% of all elk hunts though. In big spaces, this doesn’t work.

There are many more strategies but they are often tailored to your specific area. Search those out, study them, and get ready.

Listen to the episode to learn more.

Elk hunting is a slippery slope because it can become all-consuming for those who develop a passion for it. On this episode I talk about the basics of elk hunting and how to get started planning and preparing for your first hunt.

Beginners Checklist:

  • Determine where you want to or are able to hunt and what the seasons are in that area.
  • Figure out how much it costs to get a tag to hunt there and if you can readily purchase one or have to enter a drawing.
  • Create a strategy for scouting that area, be it through a guide, preliminary trip, or coming in early for the hunt.
  • Study the tactics that are most effective to hunt in that area, I share some in the episode.
  • Have an exit strategy to get you and the meat out of the woods. Elk are big animals; they can be upwards of 700 pounds.
  • Start a regimented and growing fitness routine to get you ready for the rigors of all day hikes, carrying gear, and hunting in high elevation as needed.
  • Prepare yourself physically, health wise, and mentally for the challenges you may face. I cannot overstate how hard it can be to hunt elk in high elevations no matter how good of shape you think you are in.
  • Decide if you will hunt DIY, with a guide, or using an outfitter. There are benefits to each. But it is very hard to hunt elk in an unfamiliar state without someone who knows the land and the heard.
  • Begin to assemble your gear based on the season you plan to hunt in.
  • Elk are masters of the wind, far beyond whitetail deer. They can smell you a mile away, literally, and disappear before you knew they were there. You must plan for the wind.
  • Do not waste your time, money, or energy on elk calls if you are new to the sport. You will likely cause yourself more problems than anything else. Leave calls to those who are experienced.
  • The average first or second elk hunt is usually planned a year or two in advance. That much time is needed to nail down everything on this list.
  • Do not expect to just show up with a gun and expect to take home a great elk. It doesn’t work like that unless you are hunting a farm.
  • The best guide and outfitter does not do the work for you, they simply make it possible for you to put in the hard work and have a chance at finding an elk.
  • Listen to the episode for all the information. 

Perhaps no other single person in history has done more to advance firearms technology than John Moses Browning. His innovations laid the groundwork for almost all hunting firearms in use today, and many military firearms as well. On this episode I talk about his patriotic contribution to the world of hunting.

Before there were semi-auto rifles and shotguns, before there were pump actions, lever actions, and so on, John Moses Browning invented the comprehensive mechanism breech loading single shot rifle. No one had seen anything like it, it earned him a visit from the top brass at Winchester who came to buy the patent rights for an astronomical sum of money in those days and started a long and fruitful relationship.

Not only did John invent a masterful way to operate a single shot rifle, but he also pioneered the repeating rifle, invented the pump action shotgun, went on to invent the automatic shotgun, created the automatic pistol from thin air, and would go on to invent the machine gun.

Almost every hunter does or has carried a gun into the field that John Moses Browning invented or influenced, even though almost none of his firearms were sold under his name. He invented guns like Winchester Model 94 in 30-30, the Browning Auto-5, the Colt 1911, the BAR, the M1 and M2 Machine guns, so much more. Some 120 patents were credited to his name, many of which were built into innovative firearms that changed the course of hunting, and the world.

Listen to the episode to hear more.

To learn more, this book is an excellent read:

Every time I hear someone laboring to try and make wild turkey meat palatable, it blows a fuse in mind. While turkey is delicious! On this episode I share secrets, that shouldn’t be secrets, for how to make wild turkey taste great.

Take Always

  • Here is the meat thermometer I mentioned in the episode.
  • Unfortunately, most hunters are not great cooks and most people’s approach to cooking game lacks some basic principles for preparing it well. 
  • Just because someone else says they like it and it tastes good does not mean they have any idea how to cook well. But that also doesn’t mean the meat cannot be cooked well.
  • Wild turkey is not chicken, don’t try to cook it like chicken!
  • Wild turkey is not store-bought turkey, don’t try to cook them the same!
  • Most people have no experience whatsoever cooking any turkey outside of thanksgiving style. There is a big knowledge gap!
  • Wild turkeys are lean well exercised birds. They MUST NOT be overcooked and dry out quickly.
  • Listen to the episode to hear the wild turkey cooking secrets. 

Some people hunt for pragmatic reasons, others are spurred on by much deeper things. On this episode I delve into the heart and mind of a hunter to examine why people hunt. Not only is this encouraging but understanding your personal motivation can help you better align your hunting style and pursuits to get the most possible enjoyment out of the sport.

This episode is also a bit of a celebration of 200 episodes, that is 200 weeks of teaching, encouraging, and helping people get into the woods and enjoy their time there as much as possible. Please leave some feedback on this one!

It is more exciting to hunt turkeys early when they are most vocal, but you can have just as much success later in the day. On this episode I talk both about the reasons and strategies to never give up on a turkey hunt.

Take Aways

  • A turkey’s morning tends to be cyclical, and if you understand the cycle, you can kill them even later on even if they don’t gobble.
  • You have turkey hunters, and you have turkey killers. The biggest difference is not experience or skill, it is mindset. 
  • If you hunt with other people, you want them to match your goals and level of enthusiasm
  • Turkeys can be completely silent and still come in. You need to always be alert.
  • Your odds are better when hunting around sign than with the unknown. Don’t be quick to abandon a good spot.
  • If you are in the woods you always have a chance, if you are hunting near sign you have a better chance, and if you are stealthy and still, you have the best chance.
  • Listen to the episode to hear the reasons and strategies for hunting after the birds quiet down. 

This is an often asked and misunderstood question when it comes to turkey hunting. Calling is a critical part of almost all turkey hunts, often it is overdone, and there are times when it should be completely avoided, at least temporarily. In this episode I share principles and common scenarios to help equip you for the many kinds of situations you may encounter in the turkey woods. 

Take Aways

  • There is no such thing as a call shy turkey. Turkeys are calling to each other all the time. There are human shy turkeys though.
  • You do not want to be perceived as an overly eager hen, because gobblers expect those hens to come to them.
  • If a gobbler can see you, and you call, he will expect to see a hen there and will expect that hen to see and come to him.
  • The worse you are at calling, the less you should call. Stick to the calls you are best with.
  • Do not stress over how good you sound, often turkeys don’t call well. The amount and intensity of calling are easy for even a novice to control.
  • Nothing works every time in turkey hunting, these are wild animals. 
  • Listen to episode to learn about when you should call or not call.

The first thing most people learn about turkey hunting is you have to shoot the birds in the head. But is that the whole story? On this episode I kick the tires on that assumption with some historical information and common sense to reveal the bigger picture.

Yes, of course, a head shot with modern turkey ammo and a good, tested choke is the best way to kill a gobbler. But it is not the only way, nor the only ethical way to do the job.

Since shotguns were invented, up until about the 1970s, shooting turkeys in the head was only practical at very close range. Hunters relied on big shotguns with high powered loads to deliver body shots. And of course, rifles were more commonly uses as well.

There are situations where body shots with the right shells can be very effective. But body shots should never be taken over a head shot, for 5 reasons I list in the episode. However, sometimes a body shot is the only shot presented.

Listen to the episode to hear the case for and against ONLY shooting turkeys in the head.

There is no ammo more effective for turkey hunting than tungsten shot. There is also nothing more expensive… On this episode I equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about the best ammo for you and your circumstances.

Take Aways

  • Not all tungsten shot is created equal. Watch this video to learn more: The Truth & Lies About Tungsten Shot
  • TSS (Tungsten Super Shot) is a brand of tungsten shot made by Federal, it is not a type of shot or a quality rating.
  • Other companies and brands make tungsten shot that is just as good or better than TSS, like BOSS who copper plates their tungsten shot.
  • True tungsten shot has a density of 18 g/cc. Don’t pay up for anything less.
  • Tungsten shot gives you more range than lead and more consistent turkey killing ability at mid and long range.
  • For anything closer than 30 yards, Tungsten is not worth it. Tungsten begins to become worth it at distances of 40 yards+.
  • Here is the ammo comparison I mentioned in the episode: 8 Turkey Hunting Ammos Put To the Test
  • Here is the main ballistics gel test I mentioned: BOSS Tom TSS vs. Winchester Longbeard XR
  • Listen to the episode to hear the case for and against tungsten shot.