Bet on Sleepy Time Elk – Secrets for Hunting Elk

Bull Elk by John E Phillips
Bet on Sleepy Time Elk – Secrets for Hunting Elk

Vestavia AL –-( Editor’s Note: With bow season for elk just around the corner, starting in some states the first of August 1, we wanted to know the best tactics for taking an elk.

So, we contacted Wayne Carlton of Montrose, Colorado, one of the most widely recognized elk hunters and elk callers in the nation, who has been hunting elk for 34 years. We asked him to give us his best elk-hunting strategy.

Wayne Carlton’s Advice:

“A lot of people want to go out before the sun comes-up. Often that’s good to do that, and watching the sun rise is always beautiful. But, in some places you hunt elk, like canyons, you can end up creating a lot of commotion just getting there.

Sometimes you’ll never spot the elk you want to chase and if you do see them, you end up watching them walk away. I’m a midday hunter, but not because I want to sleep late. I hunt in the middle of the day, because I’m trying to hunt the elk in the areas where they feel comfortable.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t outrun the sun. When the sun’s coming-up and it’s heating the ground, the thermals start to rise instead of moving down. Through my years of hunting elk, I’ve developed a pattern of watching elk at the crack of daylight, providing I don’t scare them off, to see in which stand of timber they’ll be standing. If you can find that one section of timber, even with millions of acres to chase the elk, you know the stand of timber they’ve gone into before, and then your search becomes narrowed to an area that’s the size of a pinhead, compared to the amount of land you did have to consider.

I like to hunt bedded elk at midday. But, if you can’t hunt bedded elk because of the terrain, then hunt them early in the morning and late in the evening. The advantage is only a theory, but think of yourself. Where do you usually feel the most-comfortable and secure? Generally, it’s in your bedroom. You put your head down and feel secure enough to go to sleep peacefully. I don’t think that elk are that different. Elk stay in their bedding areas during the middle of the day because they feel very-secure there. They don’t move around in their bedding areas, so you don’t have to chase or outrun them up the side of a mountain.

I try to do any strenuous work before I actually get to the elk. For example, when I hike, I’m panting, and I’m doing all the physical stuff just to get level with or higher than the elk. I really want to be above the elk, because hopefully, the drafts will go-up the mountain during the day, so they won’t see or smell me. I use an adjacent drainage, not the same drainage the elk has used to get above the elk. Then, I’ll let the draft come-up in my face and go down to them. Traveling downwards doesn’t exert the same kind of energy as going up does.

You can hunt much-better, because you’re not in a stressful situation. You can become more of a predator coming down, trying to see an elk before the elk sees you, or you can set-up in area to which you can call an elk.”

This is just a sample of what you’ll learn in the new Kindle eBooks, “PhD Elk” and “Secrets for Hunting Elk,” by John E. Phillips. Go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, Smart Phone or computer.

About John E Phillips

The author of almost 30 books on the outdoors, many on Amazon, Phillips is a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) and an active member of the Southeastern Outdoors Press Association (SEOPA). Phillips also is the owner of Night Hawk Publications, a marketing and publishing firm, and president of Creative Concepts, an outdoor consulting group. Visit him Online at

John E Phillips