A big advantage to backpack hunting is the freedom to follow a trail wherever the tracks lead, with no need to return to a distant camp. Tracking is the most exciting way to hunt elk, but with several sets of eyes, ears, and nostrils searching for danger, it's also the most difficult. The key is knowing when to cover country and when to slow down. Typically, elk will begin to meander, poke their noses into the snow to grab mouthfuls of fescue, and turn uphill into thick timber before lying down. When you see these signs, stop for a minute and think. Can you circle to approach the area where you suspect they've bedded from above, with the wind in your face? You'll lose time leaving the tracks, but gaining the element of surprise is often worth that risk.