Elk Hunting in Alberta

Its elk hunting season here in Alberta

With an early snowstorm across most of central and southern Alberta the early October hunt is looking promising. Using a 180 gr. bullet with the 30 06 range out to 300 yards I’ll be able to hunt elk successfully here in Alberta. I’ll be shooting a Winchester 30 06 Expedition Big Game factory ammunition that produces sufficient 30 06 muzzle velocity to take on these large big game animals.

Living in the western part of Central Alberta we’re close to the Rocky Mountain Foothills where extensive development is forbidden as it rests adjacent to a National Historic Site, the Banff National Park. As such, only heavy industry are permitted to extract resources such as timber and oil and natural gas. Given this, there are no private property rights needing to be dealt with, only Crown Leases in which Alberta Ranchers purchase the rights to graze their cattle on Crown Land during the summer season. Most of the cattle will have now been moved off the winter range leaving the majority of Crown Land open for big game hunting.

Where we will hunt

With all that natural resources development there is a great expanse of oil and gas access roads into the wilderness and logging roads leading to clear cutting areas where timber had been harvested and new trees planted. It’s in these new areas of forest growth that the sedges and grasses grow that elk will habituate to feed off of. This is especially true on the southern facing slopes where the sun can reduce or remove the snow cover making it easier and more likely to find elk feeding there.

This is where we are going to set up our hunting camp for the next couple days to take advantage of elk movements and habits throughout their foothill and mountain ranges. Our first tasks will be to travel to the large river valleys or creeks and hunt near the fresh moving water as elk tend to begin their day browsing near clear fresh water at sunrise to begin their digestion cycle for the day. After drinking plenty of clear fresh water elk will begin browsing on riverside willow trees, aspen and tall grasses and sedges growing nearby. Once they’ve quenched their thirst, elk will begin climbing up out of the river valleys to higher ground where they can continue grazing, resting and continue grazing the grasses and sedges they feed off of. Our goals are to follow their habitats and see if we can encounter or call a satellite bull elk to our rifles.

Calling elk is an exciting exercise

When elk are nearby, there is a lot of vocalizations to listen to and determine the sex or age of the animals nearby. Calves and cows have more of a bleat than a bugle call, while bulls use the bleats and the bugle to identify themselves and broadcast themselves to other bulls and cows.

Elk are a herding animal with a dominant bull gathering a harem of cows and their calves together in late August and throughout September. Non dominant bulls will continue attempting to mate cows that were not bred in their first estrus period by attempting to mate them in the October estrus period. These bulls were not able to become dominant bulls earlier in the season due to their stature, age or lack of fighting strength to overcome a dominant bull with a harem. These hanger on bulls are called satellite bulls, as they revolve around the harem like satellites, being chased by the dominant bull all the while attempting to exploit any chances of breeding a cow while the dominant bull is kept busy elsewhere. That’s why using a cow call in this situation has a high chance of bringing these less experienced satellite bulls, usually younger in age and status, closer to our shooting lanes.

30 06 muzzle velocity

Once in our 30 06 shooting range, our rifles will dispatch the elk in a quick and humane kill. To achieve a quick and clean kill on elk size game I’m going to be shooting rounds with a 30 06 muzzle velocity of 2750 (feet per second) FPS. For elk size big game I like to ensure the Energy at the point of impact is over 2000 foot pounds (FT.LBS.) of energy. For example, if an object was dropped one foot above its target at the velocity at that range, it would have the same impact of dropping 2000 pounds over a 1 foot travelling distance. So, at 300 yards, a FT.LBS. Energy rating of 2000 would equal an object weighing 2000 pounds, nearly a ton of energy, hitting the target at that point of impact. It would like a 2000 pound weight dropped a distance of 1 foot. This release of energy would be sufficient to successfully take an elk-sized big game animal.

For my elk hunting this year, I am using the Winchester 180 gr. Expedition Big Game rifle cartridge with the former Accubond bullet. This polymer tipped Winchester 30 06 cartridge with a bonded alloy lead core is sold as the Winchester Expedition Big Game 180 gr. round in 30 06. While I’ve been able to hand load these bullets, I like this manufactured ammunition because of what I’ve seen it do on elk size game and it is readily available in most outdoors and hunting stores in my area at an affordable price.

Try reading a good book on elk hunting like “DIY Elk Hunting Guide” by Dan Allan, see what you can pick up on elk hunting for your next elk hunting season in Alberta!

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