Elk Forecast 2003







By Curt Wells, Equipment Editor


If anything could be called a "blemish" on the 2003 elk forecast for North America, it would have to be drought. As I was compiling this forecast, many elk states, particularly in the Southwest, were suffering severe drought. Fortunately, the winter was mild, which was a godsend. With poor range conditions in some wintering areas, a tough winter could have spelled disaster.

If drought continues through the summer, it will affect elk hunting in several ways.

One, if summer range conditions and high-country meadows don't provide adequate forage for elk, herds will work down to lower elevations. That relocation will have a major bearing on where early-season bowhunters will find elk. If the elk are forced low enough they could mean end up on private lands, where poor access and crop damage could be problems.

Two, if hot, dry weather persists, wildfires could be severe. Every elk hunter with experience keeps an ear tuned to weather forecasts and fire reports throughout the summer. If your favorite elk ground burns up, your hunt will likely be transformed into a scouting/camping trip.

Three, hunting elk in hot, dry weather presents additional challenges beyond the usual high degree of difficulty. Hot weather reduces daytime activity, bugling tends to be less effective, and waterhole hunting becomes more effective. And, the task of caring for a downed elk in hot weather can be a huge logistical consideration.

Four, poor feed conditions can result in reduced antler growth and sub par trophy quality.

Despite the specter of drought (not all elk states/provinces are dry), bowhunters will find excellent elk populations no matter where they go this fall. ColoradoÂ's elk herd is still well above management objectives, and no state or province is reporting declining elk herds, except where wildlife departments are reducing herds purposely through intense harvest.

The best advice is: Hope for rain, accept the hunting conditions you're dealt, then put some sharp broadheads in your quiver and head for elk country. It's the most beautiful place on the planet.

Recommended for You

Dr. Dave Samuel breaks down the facts. Conservation

Is A Miracle Cure for CWD on the Horizon?

Dr. Dave Samuel

Dr. Dave Samuel breaks down the facts.

This Venison and Cabbage Stew Recipe is meaty, easy to make in a slow cooker, and exactly what you'll want to come home to on a chilly weeknight Recipes

Slow Cooker Venison and Cabbage Stew Recipe

Jessyca Sortillon

This Venison and Cabbage Stew Recipe is meaty, easy to make in a slow cooker, and exactly what...

Check out our roundup of the best new release aids from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

6 New Archery Release Aids to Consider for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 11, 2019

Check out our roundup of the best new release aids from the 2019 ATA Show!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony Peterson sees plenty of action while hunting whitetails and hogs in Texas.

Release Arm Alignment

Release Arm Alignment

On this edition of "Dead On," pro archer Randy Ulmer shows you how to properly align your release arm.

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist witnesses a hen trying to destroy one of his decoys while hunting turkeys in Kansas.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Curt Wells explains the importance of momentum and penetration. How-To

Heavy Vs. Light: Choosing The Best Hunting Arrow

Curt Wells

Curt Wells explains the importance of momentum and penetration.

With May comes an opportunity to re-think turkey bowhunting strategies. Turkeys

Spring Gobbler Reset: How to Bowhunt Turkeys in May

Tony J. Peterson

With May comes an opportunity to re-think turkey bowhunting strategies.

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt! Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

See More Stories

More Conservation

Learn why Dr. Dave Samuels says hunters bear some blame for the CWD issue and what we can do to preserve whitetails. Conservation

Are Hunters To Blame for CWD?

Dr. Dave Samuel - October 31, 2018

Learn why Dr. Dave Samuels says hunters bear some blame for the CWD issue and what we can do...

          This annual gathering of deer fanatics is guaranteed to stir your whitetail brain cells. Conservation

Deer Management 2010

December 09, 2010

This annual gathering of deer fanatics is guaranteed to stir your whitetail brain...

          To get the most out of modern hunting, learn to use this valuable hunting tool -- the Conservation

Instant Answers

Dr. Dave Samuel - November 04, 2010

To get the most out of modern hunting, learn to use this valuable hunting tool --...

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×