hunting, elk,
Imperial Ruler: From a high, open knoll, a 7x7 herd bull surveys his harem of cows.. Donald M. Jones

Six big-game experts share their secrets for finding, stalking, and killing big bulls on public land.

1. ■ Miles Fedinec

“It’s as much a life experience as a hunting trip. On day four, when it’s cold and wet, the elk aren’t bugling, and you’re 14 miles from your truck, hunting the backcountry sucks. You have to learn to be comfortable when you’re miserable.”

2. ■ Bob Daugherty

“Here in the semi­desert country of New Mexico, moisture is the first consideration for finding elk. Elk need water, and more of it during the rut. If there’s no water, it’s probably not worth scouting.”

3. ■ Travis Reed

“In the backcountry, you’re hunting elk that have everything in their favor. Yeah, you can probably kill a bigger bull on managed private ground, but any elk you get out here, especially in an OTC unit, is a true trophy.”

4. ■ Chad Schearer

“One simple little trick is to park where everyone can see your truck. It might just move them on to the next spot.”

5. ■ Ty Stubblefield

“When you hunt backcountry elk right, there’s nothing comfortable about it. You can alleviate some of the pain with good gear and whiskey, but basically it’s going to hurt.”

6. ■ Jay Scott

“Don’t be afraid to draw your bow on a close elk that’s staring at you. He’ll stop or hunch or maybe even wheel a little—but he’ll almost always give you a shot.”

Related: 31 D.I.Y. Tips for the Ultimate Elk Hunt