Scouting for Elk

What is Scouting?

Preparation can make all the difference when it comes to hunting elk. Western hunters have a lot of ground to cover, with lots of natural obstacles that can impact access to getting to where the elk are. Get a head start on your elk hunting season by e-scouting with onX Hunt. No matter where elk roam, onX Hunt can provide you with the tools to have a successful hunt.

How to E-Scout for Elk

With the onX Hunt App, you can scout from any time from anywhere to start preparing for your hunt. All you need is a computer or mobile device and an onX Hunt Subscription to begin scouting elk habitats. Whether you are hunting in state or traveling to hunt, onX Hunt can give you perspective on where to hunt long before you put boots on the ground. 

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Elk Hunting – Where Should You Start? | The Hunting Public

Watch The Hunting Public break down how to get into elk hunting, how to secure tags, how to plan a destination hunt, and finding Elk in the west.

Quick Tips:

  • Tags are getting harder and harder to get in the west – plan far ahead to get elk tags, and apply in a couple different states.
  • Utilize onX Hunt’s Elk Hunting Areas Layer to evaluate different hunting areas

E-Scouting For Early Season Elk | Hushin

Learn how to E-scout for early season elk with Hushin. Find water sources, wallows, glassing areas, and more to aid your early season elk hunt.

Quick Tips:

  • Bulls will hang out in bachelor groups pre-rut
  • Utilize 3D maps on onX Hunt to help find creek bottoms, springs, and open tree lines
  • Use the crop data layer to identify food sources.

5 Tips for E-scouting | Born and Raised Outdoors

Follow along with Born and Raised Outdoors as they give their top 5 tips for E-scouting Elk with onX Hunt.

  • Use the private / public land boundaries to ensure you’re staying on ground you can hunt
  • identify “benches” by utilizing the topo map to find elk bedding areas.

3 Hacks to E-Scouting – Elk Shape

Mark Livesay of Treeline Academy and Dan Stanton of ElkShape discuss 3 hacks to e-scouting utilizing the onX Hunt App.

Quick Tips:

  • Utilize onX Hunt on a desktop computer for a larger screen, more tools, and easier to access features.
  • Use the Radius Tool to help you identify how far from your truck you can reasonable go, for glassing and shot distancing, and to show hunting pressure radiuses from popular access points.

E-scouting Overview for Archery Elk With Isaiah Joner | The Huntin’ Fool

Isaiah gives a quick walkthrough of his E-scouting methods for archery elk using onX Maps and Huntin’ Fool’s Map. In the video, he breaks down access points, hunting pressure, and more.

Quick Tips:

  • Ensure where you are scouting is not on old mining claims, cabins, or private property using the Private Land layer, State Government lands Layer, and Wilderness Areas layer.
  • Compare historic burn areas by toggling on the Historic Wildfire layer

Scouting in the Field for Elk

How To Find Elk | Unguided Outdoors

Watch Unguided Outdoors scout for elk in the field with onX Hunt.

  • Look for Shelves and benches, or flat areas on a mountain that elk will use as resting and bedding areas.
  • Be respectful of private land and roads that pass through private land
  • Set up trail cameras (if legal in your area) at pinch points to monitor elk movement
  • Mark waypoints in onX Hunt in the field to utilize on hunting day.

Regional Scouting Tips

Each region where elk roam present different challenges, opportunities, and variables. What may work in one area may not in another area. Here are tips from some of our experts for planning elk hunts in Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico.

Scouting Elk in Colorado

Finding Hidden Elk: E-Scouting in Colorado | Born and Raised Outdoors

Follow along with Kody as he gives his insight on scouting and mapping out a Colorado elk hunt using onX Hunt. 

Quick Tips:

  • Actively seek places to avoid hunting pressure
  • Target key elk habitat: dense timber, burns, open parks, and water
  • Have multiple plans so you can stay mobile if hunting is slow.
  • Analyze topography and elevation

Scouting Elk in Montana

E-Scouting for Elk in Montana – Public & Private | Born and Raised Outdoors

Join Kody as he goes into detail on e-scouting Montana. Learn how to navigate public and private land, and what aspects of the land will be most important in your upcoming hunt.

Quick TIps:

  • Utilize land ownership information to navigate public and private boundaries
  • Hunt smaller, often overlooked sections of public land.
  • Find areas where elk move from private to public land
  • Find obscure access locations

Scouting Elk in New Mexico

Last but not least, Kody covers the great state of New Mexico, giving hunters his best tips and tricks for finding public land elk.

Quick tips:

  • Find water (springs, tanks, and guzzlers) where bulls frequent.
  • Night bugle to locate bulls for the next day.
  • Utilize roads and trail data to figure out how to navigate your unit and find key spots.
  • Use a topo map to find glassing points.

Ready to start scouting?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start hunting elk?

Interested in elk hunting, but not sure where to start? Read our guide on How To Start Hunting for tips on how to learn more about hunting, how to gear up, and how to gain experience in the field.

When do I start scouting elk?

With the onX Hunt app, you can scout from anywhere at any time of year right from your home on your computer. When hunting season draws nearer, make sure you’re going out into the field to scout and study elk herd movement.

When do I stop scouting elk?

As the season approaches, it’s important to not alert prey to your presence and patterns. Ensure that you have done your scouting well in advance of hunting season to avoid spooking elk.