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10 Best DIY Elk States for 2014

10 Best DIY Elk States for 2014

Nothing epitomizes the do-it-yourself spirit quite like bowhunting public land elk. Part of it has to do with the fact elk largely occupy public land open to all (those who can secure a tag, at least). Most elk habitat is also made up of vast National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, state-administered or timber lands and is open and waiting for any bowhunter willing to invest the research and effort.

Since not everyone resides in the middle of elk country, these places normally involve traveling to distant areas, across the state, several states over or across the nation for pre-season scouting missions and season openers.

To ensure you hit the ground running, start your planning at home. Invest in "desktop" scouting through maps and other resources to narrow down prospects. Interview knowledgeable persons and local game managers to gain a better idea of what you're in for. Assemble the necessary gear and get yourself in top physical conditioning to better handle the demands of a thinner atmosphere and rough and tumble country.

But before all that, the bowhunter must pick a destination. Here are our picks for the top DIY elk hotspots across the nation (hotspots are weighted heavily on easily obtained tags).

Cabela's | Pro Survival Tool

Hinge-cutting saplings along a trail, or around a treestand is a great way of manipulating Mother Nature to your advantage. This is a low impact style of clearing, and for a treestand situation, can help you nest your stand with natural foliage to further hide you from a whitetail's keen eyesight. For these tasks one of my favorite tools is the Cabela's Pro Survival Tool, which is a wicked looking hybrid machete/axe that features a 3/16 ' thick high-carbon steel blade. This beast weighs 23 ounces and measures 13 ' in length and is a great option for sprucing up stand sites. Price: $100

Hooyman | 10 Foot

Since I hunt a lot of public land where and tend to employ a scout-as-I-go strategy that has me setting up and taking down new stands daily, I use my Hooyman 10 a lot. The Hooyman 10 is a part of my system that gets strapped to my pack and carried nearly everywhere. Each Hooyman 10 folds down to just 28 inches, features the MegaBite blade and utilizes a unique I-Beam design to ensure ease in cutting. If you're a hardcore bowhunter that has never used a Hooyman, you are missing out. Pole saws of several varieties are available, yet it's nearly impossible to find a truly portable saw that is designed by hunters, for hunters. Here is one. Price: $90

Hooyman | Ratchet Pruner

New for this year from Hooyman is the Ratchet Pruner, which is really a two-in-one tool. In addition to the ratchet pruner, this handy tool boasts a detachable folding saw as well. This isn't just a great tool for treestand hunters, but also for anyone who uses ground blinds and prefers to brush them in and truly prep a site. The aluminum Ratchet Pruner is designed with a hardened pruning blade, a finger support strap and high-carbon steel saw blade. Price: $45

Hunter's Specialties | Saw & Ratchet Pruner Combo

Everything you need to cut most of your shooting lanes, or trim away the perfect exit routes to all of your stands comes your way via Hunter's Specialties and the Folding Saw & Ratchet Pruner Combo. The Ratchet Pruner can handle limbs up to ¾ inches in diameter and the 9-inch saw can handle the rest. This may seem stupid, but anyone who has been there will know exactly what I mean — one of my favorite things about this set is that there are parts of both pieces that are yellow. This means when I'm trimming a natural ground blind and set the Ratchet Pruner down, I can find it again without having to comb the leaf litter looking for a black or worse, camouflage, product. Little things... Price: $20

Outdoor Edge | Flip n' Saw

Outdoor Edge produces some of my favorite knives and venison care products. They know their stuff, so it's no surprise that the Flip n' Saw is also one of my go-to stand setup products. This 7-inch saw is extremely thin and designed with a rubberized aluminum handle to reduce potential ER visit inducing slip-ups. Triple-diamond ground teeth ensure an extremely sharp saw that can handle wood with ease, but also doubles as a bone saw, a bonus for on-the-road hunts. Price: $30

Primos | Cut Back Pak

I have a Primos Cut Back Pak in my turkey vest that goes everywhere in the spring woods with me; however, I don't limit it's use to gobbler setups. The By-Pass Pruner and 6-inch saw are perfect for deer hunting as well. Both are stowed in a sheath and allow you to remove all kinds of debris to ensure that you can shoot anywhere you think you'll need to. One of the most important advantages of a two-pronged product that contains a saw and a pruner is that you can use the saw when you need to and don't care as much about making noise, but can also employ the pruner when stealth is of the utmost importance. Price: $38

Wicked Tree Gear | Wicked Tough Pole Saw

Anyone who has used the original Wicked Tree Gear Hand Saw is probably hooked for life. Few products are as durable as Wicked's, and that goes for the Wicked Tough Pole Saw as well. A personal favorite is the 12-foot version, which weighs a shade under 4lbs and boasts the Zero Slop Hinge Lock to eradicate unwanted movement. Each made in the USA Wicked Tough Pole Saw's business end is fitted with an 11 inch Wicked Sharp curved style arborist blade, which slices through hardwoods easier than any saw I've ever used. That is something that can only be appreciated when you're standing in the woods working on a barely-reachable branch that towers far over your head. Price: $210

Zippo Outdoors | 4-in-1 Woodsman

Easily one of the best products I've come across in recent years is the 4-in-1 Woodsman from Zippo Outdoors. I originally started packing the Woodsman along on camping trips to handle chores, but have expanded it's usage to treestand prep work. It features a hatchet with a 5-inch blade and a 15-inch bow saw to make short work of tangled, shot blocking messes around your ambush sites. If you routinely use ground blinds, the 4-in1 is also designed with a mallet and a stake puller for securing your blind. I must admit that I didn't see the value in the 4-in-1 Woodsman from a deer hunter's perspective until I started using it. Now, it's a mainstay in my arsenal. Price: $80




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