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How Cody Rich Uses onX Hunt To Find and Pursue Elk

When Cody Rich heads into the woods in pursuit of elk, he’s always armed with the onX Hunt App. Below, Cody explains five ways in which he finds success with onX Hunt.

Elk season is fast approaching, and with that comes adventures, stories, successes and failures. I wanted to share a few tips on how you can use onX Hunt, the top-rated app for elk hunting, to help you be successful this season. Over the years, I have picked up these tips through many failures, and it is my goal is to help you shorten that learning curve.

Tip #1: Remember the 30,000-Foot View

When chasing elk, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment only to have things blow up in your face. You have probably heard the old adage, “It is hard to see the forest for the trees.” This can be a common predicament in elk hunting as it is easy to start chasing after elk that are on the move or panic when they seemingly disappear into thin air. Fortunately, you have a literal 30,000-foot view right in your pocket. This year, when things start to fall apart, stop and pull out your onX Hunt App. Use the Hybrid Basemap to make your best guess on where your elk are going or may be hiding.

Tip #2: Mark Possible Pinch Points

We all like to mark Waypoints on big rubs or old wallows when we come across them, yet most of us don’t set a Waypoint when we come across a game trail that crosses from one drainage to another. While big rubs are cool, they are far less likely to help me kill an elk than a well-used pinch point. I am not one to ever focus on a pinch point, but knowing where an elk might cross a ridge or come down a drainage has been a huge help for me on multiple occasions.

A mature bull elk stands in an opening.

Tip #3: Mark Bugles

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a bugle from atop a high vantage point only to drop into a hole and lose track of where it was. I have gotten into the habit of setting a quick Waypoint of my best estimation of where that elk is while I have a good view of the landscape. This habit has a few benefits. First, you will find that when you drop into the timber it is sometimes easy to suddenly not have an exact location on that elk, and you will find yourself unsure of exactly how close you are to your prospective quarry. Second, if a bull decides to give me the silent treatment, I will have a good idea of roughly where he is once I am in the timber. A final benefit that I have discovered over the years is the ability to enter an area where I had marked a bugle days earlier from a completely different direction. On more than one occasion when I had marked a bugle only to turn up nothing, I went back to that spot and found a bull that was much more vocal and rutting far more than before.

Tip #4: Mark Trails

All hunting, and elk hunting in particular, is about being efficient and effective with your time. I speak fairly extensively about efficiency and effectiveness in my free 201 mini-course, but this is a good example and also a great use of the onX Hunt App. Elk are fast—they tend to walk at about the same pace I can jog—which makes maneuvering into position a difficult proposition at times. As I am hunting, or more commonly as I am working my way back to camp, when I find a well-used game trail or cattle trail, I will turn on my Tracker with the App and just walk that trail out. This action may come in handy later on in the hunt if I need to maneuver quickly and quietly.

The only time I would advise against this would be if elk that you are trying to hunt are still actively using this trail. Just walking down an elk trail can leave your scent behind for a day or two.

Success Favors the Prepared
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Tip #5: Use Aerial Basemap to Find the Easy Route

Similar to using the tracking feature of the App to mark out game trails for ease of navigation, using the App’s Aerial Basemap can help you navigate scattered forests. We have all taken a “shortcut” that turned out not to be short at all and found ourselves fighting brush or blowdown for miles. If you find yourself in this predicament, pull out onX Hunt and utilize the Aerial Basemap to help you pick your way through the most open areas. Once, I used this trick to find an old road that wasn’t marked through what would have been many miles of blown-down logs that looked like a giant obstacle course.

This year should be a great elk season, and onX Hunt is a fantastic tool that will give you more data to make better decisions and be a more effective and efficient elk hunter. My number one piece of advice to you this year is to have fun, don’t overthink it and don’t put killing an elk on a pedestal. By far, elk are my favorite creature to both eat and hunt. Good luck to everyone this fall.

Christian Fichtel

Raised in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, Christian Fichtel now resides in rural Montana. He is a father, writer, hunter, and fly fisherman.