E-scouting for Elk With Randy Newberg: Episode 7

Knowing the four needs of elk.

Elk can be a confusing animal and one of the hardest to simply locate. A hunter can easily go an entire season and never lay eyes on one. In this week’s episode of E-Scouting for Elk with Randy Newberg, Randy talks about looking for the four things elk need to survive. Some of these needs are seasonal and some year round, but Randy assures if you find these four, you are well on your way to finding elk. Watch along and learn more about the changing and static needs of elk and start making your hunting plan for the fall.

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Video Transcription:

All right, folks. The number one reason that people don’t fill their elk tag is because they, like me, struggle to find where elk are. This video is going to be all about where. Because where is driven by the needs elk have during the season that you are hunting them. I’m going to go into extreme detail about what these needs are, and you’re not going to see me use the onX a lot in this video, but understand, once we get through this one and the next video, that’s where this system becomes so critical. This onX system is invaluable in finalizing this plan.

For those of you watching, onX has this special deal going. Use promo code RANDY out at their website onxmaps.com/hunt, and when you buy app products and use that promo code, you’re going to save 20%.

So, in this video, we’re going to solve the riddle of where, but where changes throughout the season, so in the next video, we’re going to talk about where those changes occur. But in this one, we’re going to focus on where, where, where, because an elk goes where they can best satisfy their primary need. There are four primary needs. They’re pretty easy. Food, water, the one I call the three Ss, sanctuary, security, and survival, and then there’s a seasonal need, breeding. Where you’re going to find elk is wherever they can go to satisfy the primary need during the period you’re hunting them. We’re going to talk about these four needs, but understand, and we’ll cover it in the next video, that the four needs change in priority throughout our hunting seasons.

The where isn’t your entire unit. Your entire unit might be this big, but the where of where elk go to satisfy the need is really, really small places. So the idea is by knowing their needs, you can eliminate a lot of the unit. Because there’s a lot of that unit that won’t satisfy the need that elk have at the time you’re hunting them. We’re going to walk through that here, and then in the next video, we’re going to get into even more detail about the five seasons that we hunt them, and how those needs change.

Right now, let’s talk about these needs. Elk have four primary needs. Three of them are permanent. One is temporary. The three permanent primary needs are food, water, and what I call the three Ss, security, sanctuary, and survival. And then their fourth need is seasonal, breeding. Let’s go into each of them in more detail.

Let’s talk about the number one primary need. It’s a permanent year-round need. It’s food. We talked about this when we got into burns, when we got into canopy disruptions. We emphasized that elk are grazers. They love to graze on forbs, on grasses, and they’re very selective. They will travel great distances to find the best food in your unit. So back to one of the earlier videos when we said you need to understand as much as you can about elk biology, elk ecology. The reason you need to know that is because in the area you’re hunting, elk might transition to a different type of primary food source. In some places where there’s not lots of grasses, there’s not lots of forbs, they might shift to things like juniper berries. They might shift to something that’s more of forbs and less of grasses.

So what you need to understand to be successful is talking to biologists, studying, doing research to know what elk have as their primary food preference in the area that you’re hunting. Because, what elk prefer out in the plains of eastern Montana is completely different than what they prefer in a ponderosa forest in northern Arizona. That requires some research, but it’s one of the very important parts of this plan.

The second primary and permanent need, water, is really basic, right? We all know that animals, everyone, every species, need water. But, in some places, water is way more abundant than it is in others. In the northern Rockies, we have water in every drainage. It’s usually there year-round. So, in a place with abundant water, using water as one of your primary needs is going to be a little less effective.

Now, the further south you go, where water is scarce and is in isolated locations, using water as the primary need can be way more effective as one of your location strategies.

The third primary, permanent need that we’re going to talk about is sanctuary, survival, security. There are two seasons that we’re going to talk about in the next video, primarily the post-rut and the late season, where sanctuary, security, survival is absolutely critical. You’re going to be building a plan around sanctuary and survival. That’s why we did a whole video on it earlier.

This last need is a seasonal need. It’s temporary. It’s called the breeding. All bull elk have this as a need starting sometime in early September running maybe into early October. This seasonal need is the fun time to hunt elk because one, they’re vocal and you’re chasing them, usually with a bow. But also, it’s easy to find elk when breeding is their primary need. So, when you’re putting your plan together, and breeding is one of the primary needs, what do you have to have in your equation for breeding? You need cow elk. And where do you find cow elk? Wherever the best food is. That’s the really simple way to look at this breeding need. Find the best food, you’ll find the cow elk. Find the cow elk, you’re going to find where the bulls are.

I know these four needs sound really simple, and they are when you break it down into this manner. What is the need? An elk’s not going to be way over there if his needs are way over here. Eliminate those parts on your map. The parts of the unit that cannot satisfy the need the elk have at the time you’re hunting, and you’re most of the way to building a really successful plan. Just remember that the where part, the location part of your plan is driven by what the elk has as a primary need at the time you’re hunting them.

So, there you have it, folks. Four basic needs. Three are permanent. One is seasonal. Know what the needs are. Go to where the need can be satisfied, and you’re going to find a lot of elk. Once we have these needs dialed in, and in the next video, I’m going to talk about the five seasonal periods of elk hunting, this onX System is going to be the game changer. For those of you who’ve been watching, use promo code RANDY when you go out to their website, and you’re going to save 20% on any of their app products, and that website is onxmaps.com/hunt. When you do that, you save 20%, and when this video series is all over, you’re going to build a plan and it’s going to be focused and built around all the tools that you will find in your onX system. Thanks for watching.

Written by Cavan Williams