5 of the best moose hunting tactics of the early season before the rut
For some of us elk hunters in archery and to be more straightforward, Utah's moose hunters, we have to deal with elk hunters in early August and early September. This means that they have to be hunted well before the start of the rut, and usually before the bulls have collected cows and may still live with other bulls. If you're the guy who lives and dies because he's been chasing elks while he's brave enough to chase cows all day, it can be a great shock. Utah moose will prove to be nearly impossible, as you would in states with later hunting data. Over the years, I have had to look for ways to hunt them without slowing down, without calls or the ability to hunt trumpets. Below I will outline five of my favorite tactics for early moose hunting.
1. Take moose with spot and stalk
If you are familiar with hunting for mule game hunting, this first tip could prove to be a way to get an arrow in an early season bull this year. For elks, hunting with the spot and stalk method can sometimes be very effective and in many ways much easier than pursuing a wise old muley-goat. You can put her to bed and wait until the wind currents last until late morning or noon and try your luck to stop him in his bed. I will warn you: It can be very difficult with elk. As most elk hunters know, elks prefer to use wood as a bed, and it can be difficult to keep the glass on them while deciding on a bed area. Another tactic that has proven more successful is the persecution while feeding. Over the years, I've found that I can do much more with moose than with deer. Moose are big animals and it's amazing how concentrated they can concentrate on feeding this season. If you can set the wind correctly and move quickly, you can move much easier in the bow area of a single bull than you can a feeding Muley.
2. Localization and hunting of transition areas
An important opportunity to engage with elks is to water them every day. Unlike deer who can live for a day or two without water, moose are big animals and need water every day. Over the years, this has proved to be a big weakness for moose. I usually watch them a day or two to find out where they're pouring. After setting up a water source, I will set them up in their transitional areas between water and bedding. This works either when you get off the water in the morning or go to the water in the afternoon. Watch out for the wind. They typically move their nose into the wind and in this case do not get too discouraged. I go back to spot and stalk technique while feeding, and may be sitting lower or higher on the mountain. After passing one way or another, I will flank them as they walk to or from the water source.
3. Sitting at a water source or a tub
If there is no possibility to sit in a transitional area or stalk it to or from a water source, I will examine the water they use as an option to wait for a bull during lunch break. This can be a little tricky if you are looking for drainage or due to wind currents in steep terrain. Almost always, the wind whirls over water sources. Whether in a canyon or in the middle of a ridge, I have found it difficult, but not impossible, to sit a water source for a long time without the wind giving up my position. This is not my first option, but it is possible to squirt a bull off the water if the situation is right. If you are aware of the odor control and coverage, you can do so.
4. Slip into the early and hunting areas
Bed areas can be money if you have done your homework with prior scouting and know where bulls or bulls sleep each day. I've used this for more than moose hunting. I hung trail cameras in these areas and took some great pictures. These bed areas are very effective at killing a good bull if you know he will be there. You should realize, however, that you will most likely only have one chance at him and he will never sleep there again. The beauty of these bed areas is that the moose are usually on the water in the morning or pulling up a ridge. If you have set up your camp properly, you can fall asleep early when the sun rises and the moose follows shortly thereafter. To be honest, this is the most effective way I have harvested both cows and bulls during the early and hot dates that we are treating here in some western states.
5. Construction of mineral sites
I start this tactic by saying that you should check your state regulations and check if it is legal to hunt a mineral site. If this is the case, this is another great opportunity to do more than just hunt, but also to search and hang track cameras to get a picture of the caliber of bulls you deal with. A good mineral site and some good trail cameras can do a lot of homework for you, so you know if the area holds the cops you're looking for. I'll usually go to a website in mid-June and check it out in late July or early August. If it gets hit hard and I find good bulls in the camera, then I add more minerals to the job site and consider sitting wind, depending on the time of day when the cops visit the construction site. If you choose a location that covers most directions and the moose is likely to bang between water and litter, year after year you can harvest bulls from the same location. Moose suck a good mineral like salt or sweet smelling mineral powder like Black Magic. If the site is chosen wisely, this is also a good place to set up a tree stand for a young hunter to get his first shot at a moose.
Although we all moose junkies would prefer to chase a big bull while chasing cows and memorizing them, sometimes we do not have that option. Do not be tempted to harvest a bull or a cow in an over-the-counter unit that you can chase each year with early appointments. There are many opportunities to hunt moose in the early seasons. If you think a little bit out of the box or approach the hunt like a mule deer, you can be just as successful on these dates as on the summit of the rut. Try some of these tactics that have worked for me over the years. Good luck in the next few weeks as the hunt begins in the west.