Scouting Advice


New member
Jul 24, 2018
Hi my name is Nate and I'm new to the forum.  I grew up in AZ archery hunting so have some background and experience of basic elk knowledge, gone through the UEH course and learned a lot more.  Growing up in AZ also means that I've only actually been drawn once in my life to hunt elk:)  Anyway, now I live in Oregon and will be archery hunting one of the east side OTC units. 

Question is, after scouting all summer I have 2 primary areas, 30 miles apart and am asking which to focus on. 

Area 1: lots of elk sign, and LOTS of previous rut activity sign but I have seen only a few cows and 1 bull there (very thick area)

Area 2: I can confirm has a heard of over 170 cows/calves, and other smaller groups of 5-10 cows/calves.  But after doing wide circles and hiking all over I can find almost zero rut sign (only 2 small areas of dense rubs which I presume to be staging or 'bedroom' areas). 

Asking for opinions and experience, given limited scouting/hunting opportunities, which area should I focus on?  1 where the rut sign is, or 2 where the cows are at now?


Depends on what season you?re hunting. In my experience the elk herd of 170 probably won?t be there come fall. Elk normally group up in large herds during the spring / summer months and will move out as they get gathered / chased out by bulls.

I would focus my efforts from pre rut through the rut on the first area where the staging areas are. If you?re hunting early season during the pre rut you may catch a bull or two in there.

Aside from that the elk are where you find them. I like to get out a day or two before opening day and re scout the areas I?ve spotted them during summer trips if I?m in a new area. With any luck I?ll find an elk or current sign and follow them from there.

I?ve hunted the same area for a little over 20 years and a lot of spots where there  are rut sign don?t hold elk anymore. They move around a little here and there in the mountain range depending on weather, rut and hunting pressure. In that time we?ve found them anywhere from beside the road up to 15 miles back in the thick timber from where they were before.

As I said. With a new area I?d gladly give up a day or two of my hunting trip that week for an extra couple days of fresh scouting.

Best of luck!!
30 miles is nothing. Hunt them both.
Hell, I put over over 800 miles in a typical 10 day hunt.

Gotta find the elk to kill em
Welcome to the forum satelite4406 and AlberaElkAddict  :welcome:

Agree with cnelk, I'd hunt both if at all possible. When was the last time you scouted them and saw the herd of cows? And are you planning on scouting more before the season starts? If you can continue scouting, I'd just plan on following those cows the best I could. But also realize that a herd of 170 cows is probably going to break up into multiple herds once the rut gets going.
Welcome to Oregon! In my experience, id say you're better off hunting where other hunters are not. Also as stated, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on one area or another, rather I would hunt where there's less pressure and if nothing comes to fruition, change areas. The elk may be rutting, but that doesn't mean you should get stuck in one. Good luck to you!
So, we hunted Eastern Or a couple years ago, and absolutely agree get where other people are not. There where plenty of closed roads that didnt seem to matter the guys on 4 wheelers or even in trucks. And also agree alot of times where they are in june/ July isnt ehere they are in Aug/ you've got roughly a month so hunt both areas!!!! Good luck!

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

Thank you all for the reply's. 

I have 2 three day weekends the first part starting 8/25 then labor day, and then a full week off starting 9/8 so hope to get a mix of early action to herd formation.  No hesitation about switching areas and just covering ground come hunting time.  Considering what you have all said, I think I will continue my scouting by casting a broad net, just becoming familiar with the area since it is all new to me. 

I found the first area in mid June and will be checking a camera this weekend as well as covering more ground.  I saw the heard of 170 on both days this last weekend of 7/21 during bedding time in 2 spots about 1/2 mile apart.  Both are in restricted access areas, but nevertheless I am expecting a LOT of pressure come hunting season.  I'm already familiar with lawless quad hunters and pickups with 5 people in the bed so hope to avoid all that.

Will keep you up to date with what I find.


Went out again this weekend. 

Area 1 camera has this guy on 3 different days, will be a nice little 6x6. (first time trying to attach a picture so hope it works)

Area 2 camera had cows and calves, hiked around the area some more but still not finding an area with rubs. 

Still pondering what to do opening weekend, try and shadow big heard of cows to see if a bull shows up or try for where a bull is now....
Three questions:

1. When does your season open?
2. Will you be able to get back and scout between now and then?
3. Are your cameras still out?
cohunter14 said:
Three questions:

1. When does your season open?
2. Will you be able to get back and scout between now and then?
3. Are your cameras still out?

1.  8/25
2. Yes, hope to make at least 1 more trip
3. Yes, same general areas but different trails

And just for more clarity I have that bull 4 times now, same spot, relative same time over 2 week period.
Big Heard of cows still sitting in the same pocket.
Based on those answers I?d say let the next scouting trip and your cameras answer the question for you. A lot can change in the next 25 days, but see what the cameras tell you next time out and I?d also plan on leaving the cameras there and checking them when you head there to hunt. Hard evidence is a lot better than guessing. I think there?s an outside chance that the bulls could still be separated on the 25th but it just depends on the area. In one of the areas I hunt the bulls head towards the cows around mid August, but I?ve also heard of areas where they don?t move until after Sept 1.
I have a spot that my cameras show the elk use until the second week of August. Then they vacate until late Sept.

Be prepared to adjust and not bank on what you're seeing now
Exactly what cnelk said, I've had great luck getting decent bulls on my cameras all throughout July/Aug. As soon as the season shows up....poof, no where to be found. Find the cows now and you'll find the bulls come September.