Skip to main content

5 Must-Have Pieces of Gear for Any Elk Hunt

5 Must-Have Pieces of Gear for Any Elk Hunt

For those of us heading into the elk woods with the hopes of a close encounter with a rutting bull, our focus is often on shooting, calling, camo, etc., but it's easy to forgot about the other things that can be critical to having a successful hunt.

Based upon my personal experience here are five items I consider "must have items" when bowhunting elk.

Quality Boots

Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than the wrong pair of boots. Buy a good pair of boots far in advance of your hunt so you can be sure that they are broke in.


elk-hunting-gear-for-bow


Mountain hunting is tough, weather is unpredictable and loads are heavy if you harvest an elk. Make sure the boots you choose have a good ankle support and a Gore-Tex or a similar waterproof lining to ensure your feet stay dry.

A boot with a good Vibram sole and a full rubber rand is preferred. Generally boots with these features are a little more money, but last considerably longer. Meaning once you have them broke in you'll likely get several seasons out of them.

My go to boot for 2016 is the Crispi Nevada GTX. The Nevada has all the features necessary for elk county and have been extremely easy to get hunt ready.

Footbeds/Insoles


Make sure you also get a quality set of aftermarket insoles. Factory insoles are not made to handle the rigors of a mountain hunt and if you invest in a better insole your feet will thank you.

elk-hunting-bowhunting-gear

The High Country Synergy Footbeds by Lathrop and Sons are preferred among many Western hunters. This is one purchase you won't regret.


Elk Decoy

The last few years it seems more elk hunters are starting to carry decoys, but I'm still surprised by how many hunters go afield without one.

bowhunting-elk-gear-and-essentials

Companies are making decoys that are lightweight, easy to carry and affordable. Although, I only use them on 50% of my setups, I can't afford not to carry one. I've killed elk on at least two occasions due to my decoy, so I would definitely say its worth packing along.

For the past several seasons I've been using a Heads Up Decoy and am very impressed with how simple and effective it is to use.

Backpack

When elk hunting out west you need to be ready for whatever the mountain and weather will throw at you. This means having a good backpack is a necessity.

I prefer a pack that can carry all my gear, but compresses down small enough so I can move easily without constantly snagging on underbrush.

elk-hunting-gear-for-bowhunters

A pack must also be capable of carrying the first load of meat off the mountain when I walk back to my truck or camp. Elk are big and depending on the size of your hunting party can take several trips to get off the mountain.

I never walk off the hill without at least a quarter, so I want a pack both large enough and sturdy enough to handle the task. This year I will be using the Icon Pro 3200 by KUIU.

onXmaps

Of all the things I take on a hunt there is one item I absolutely wouldn't go without — a land ownership chip in my GPS. I buy a chip specific to whatever state I'm hunting. This provides me with details of land ownership, trailheads, man-made and natural landmarks and even water sources in the area.

These are particularly helpful when hunting areas you aren't familiar with and can save many miles walked. They can also provide you with information that would otherwise take much time and research.

I believe onXmaps are the best in the business. Visit their site and check out all the cool things you can do on your smart phone, computer and tablet. I own chips from each state I've visited over the past several seasons and they are top-notch.

Game Bags

Hopefully at the end of your hunt you'll be loading a pile of 100% wild grown elk meat into your pack for the ride home. One of the best investments any elk hunter can make is in a set of durable game bags.

Game bags will keep flies and bees off of your quarters, but still remain breathable allowing the meat to cool when hung properly.

elk-hunting-gear

Good bags are definitely more expensive, but they last many years as long as they are cleaned properly after use. I have personally put over a half dozen elk in my set of Caribou Gear Bags.

Twenty-plus years of elk hunting has provided me with a long list of hunting gear, but there are some things I refuse to go without!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Elk Bulls Abound in Colorado

Elk Bulls Abound in Colorado

Bowhunter team member Rudy Bachraty gets his chance to take an elk with Cross Mountain Outfitters of Colorado.

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek sets up for some hog and whitetail hunting at Canyon Ranch in Texas.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Tree-Climbing Sticks

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Tree-Climbing Sticks

Sectional sticks are the most popular tree-climbing method among saddle enthusiasts because sticks are safe, effective, easy to use, and you only have to hang three or four of them to reach heights of 17-22 feet if you add a lightweight climbing aider.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Is FOC really all it's cracked up to be? Is it important to accuracy and penetration?Arrow FOC: Why It's Important for Bowhunting Arrows & Broadheads

Arrow FOC: Why It's Important for Bowhunting

Jace Bauserman

Is FOC really all it's cracked up to be? Is it important to accuracy and penetration?

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when choosing heavy vs. light arrows for bowhunting.How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light How-To

How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light

Curt Wells

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when...

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest Industry

Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest

Dr. Dave Samuel

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.

There are many benefits to putting a lighted nock on your hunting arrows. Let's break them down. Are Lighted Nocks Worth the Expense? Arrows & Broadheads

Are Lighted Nocks Worth the Expense?

Curt Wells

There are many benefits to putting a lighted nock on your hunting arrows. Let's break them...

See More Trending Articles

More Field Tools

The advantages to using a binocular bivy system are many, and they go well beyond providing full protection for your glass.Why You Should Use A Binocular Bivy System Field Tools

Why You Should Use A Binocular Bivy System

Joe Bell

The advantages to using a binocular bivy system are many, and they go well beyond providing...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a digital mapping app that provided public and private land boundaries, multiple map modes and also tell you when and where to hunt? Viola! HuntWise is here.HuntWise a Must-Have Smartphone App for Whitetail Bowhunters Field Tools

HuntWise a Must-Have Smartphone App for Whitetail Bowhunters

Jace Bauserman - October 06, 2020

Wouldn't it be nice to have a digital mapping app that provided public and private land...

After factoring in turkey season, western bowhunts, and a couple of states for public-landDeer Camp Done Right Field Tools

Deer Camp Done Right

Tony J. Peterson - October 19, 2017

After factoring in turkey season, western bowhunts, and a couple of states for public-land

Binoculars and rangefinders at the 2020 ATA Show! New Optics for 2020

New Optics for 2020

Brian K. Strickland - January 10, 2020

Binoculars and rangefinders at the 2020 ATA Show!

See More Field Tools

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now