Why Does It Feel Like Elk Disappear When Hunting Season Starts? Because They Do

A couple of deer in a field

Every hunter has set up in a prime area, knowing that the animal your after is there. There’s been sign everywhere, trail cam pictures, and maybe you’ve even seen them there scouting ahead of the season.

But, opening day comes around and they are gone for the whole season, only to fool you again year after year.

Each time, thinking you must be either crazy or not truly in the right areas.

Well, Outdoor Life says a study exists that will make you understand why and not feel so crazy or defeated.

Elk in Utah are found to move out of their area on public lands when hunting season opens up. The pressure from the increased activity seems to push them to private lands that aren’t being used.

It’s even found that Elk reduce their use of public land as much as 30% during hunting season.

That’s the hard part about hunting public land. There is so many hunters clogged into accessible areas in literally can change the movements of the animals.

It shows how smart they are and makes the hunt even more fun knowing if you’re not on you’re A-game you can push the animal out.

Brock McMillan, a professor who helped with the study, summed up what we all are thinking.

“It’s crazy; on the opening day of the hunt, they move, and the closing day they move back. It’s almost like they’re thinking, ‘Oh, all these trucks are coming, it’s opening day, better move.”

Those fears about your dream Elk leaving is actually true…

But wait, there is hope. This same study found that if private land tags were given out in these areas that the Elk were pushed back out into the public land.

That is pretty amazing… they really do know they are being hunted.

The study was started in Utah to better manage Elk populations. Since this happened, these private land tags have been permanently implemented in the state. This has given public land hunters a better chance at getting an Elk and giving more data for researching and managing the Elk.

This is a great win-win for hunters, a better chance at an Elk and more data for better management in the years to come.

Let’s hope we continue to see management studies in all areas to benefit hunters and the wildlife.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock