Elk are notoriously difficult to pin down and the hunters consistently harvesting animals are systematic and skilled in their approach to every hunt. It doesn’t matter if you’re elk hunting in New Mexico or in Washington; these common mistakes will hurt your chances at finding a nice bull.

As you prepare for that next big elk hunt, here are five simple elk hunting mistakes to avoid:

Failure to Scout

Don’t underestimate the value of pre-season scouting. Knowing the terrain, water sources, feed areas and cover will increase your odds of success. Boots on the ground familiarity with the landscape is great but even e-scouting will give you an edge.

At LOH Outfitters, our full-time hunting guides scout hard throughout the year, glassing and running trail cameras in the various units we hunt. This gives our guided hunters a serious leg up.

The moral of the story: wherever your hunting adventures take you, get to know your area. When it comes to hunting elk, scouting and familiarity is a big advantage. If you don’t have the knowledge of a local guide, spend some time on Google Earth and hike the area when possible.

Don’t Oversleep

Elk hunts begin well before sunrise. Get up early and be ready to get in position in the dark. When you start glassing at first light, more elk are spotted and you can follow them to bedding areas and make a stalk. You can always take a long midday nap to recharge for the evening hunt. Elk can be found throughout the day but the early morning is your absolute best shot at finding them on their feet.

On our guided elk hunts in New Mexico, we are up well before daylight. Our travel time (whether it’s by truck or on foot) to the hunting area determines when we get out of bed. But it’s essential to be in that hunting area before daylight. The second it’s light enough to see, we can begin glassing. Those first few minutes of daylight are important for catching elk on the move. Don’t miss them!

Staying On the Roads

Road hunting is not the best way to get on elk. You might glass them from a long ways off but trying to get close with a vehicle is usually difficult. Road pressure pushes bulls into remote zones and hiking is often the best way to get close. At LOH Outfitters, vehicles are used for utility and they play a role but it pays to arrive in good physical condition for every hunt.

On any elk-hunting trip, expect hiking to be a part of the adventure. Be prepared to navigate rugged and often steep terrain. Sometimes when there are elk bugling on the next ridge, your ability to get there quickly can determine your chances at success.

Skipping Range Days

Archery and rifle hunters who fail to shoot ahead of the season are more prone to mistakes. When you’re investing time, money and effort into an elk-hunting trip, make sure you come prepared with your weapon. Shoot regularly and fine-tune your skills.

Even once your bow, rifle or muzzleloader is sighted in, continue to shoot as often as possible to get yourself ready for hunting season. Don’t forget to practice in your hunting clothing, bino harness and any other items you plan to wear or use. If there’s a problem, best to discover it before your trip and not when you’re trying to pull of a shot at the bull of a lifetime.

Poor Mental Attitude

A significant part of elk hunting success is mental toughness. Allowing a poor mental attitude take hold is a recipe for failure. It’s easy to have a good attitude on the first day of the hunt. But after grinding it out for a few days, some hunters let themselves deflate. Don’t let that happen to you.

Arrive on your elk hunt knowing that it’s going to be a grind. Be ready to work hard and stay positive throughout all the ups and downs. When things aren’t going your way, keep a confident attitude. The hunter who is as positive and hard working on the fifth day as they were on the first day has a much higher chance for success.

Contact Us With Questions

If you have questions about our guided elk hunts in New Mexico, please feel free to contact us. You can check out our elk-hunting page for more information. Otherwise, give us a call or text at (575) 517-6083.