Since long before the first Shawnee drew back and took aim on a monster wapiti, bowhunting elk has provided one of North America’s greatest hunting experiences. Anyone who has had the thrill of being up close and personal with a bull elk will tell you the thrill is no less today.

Whether you hunt on public or private land, by yourself or with the best elk hunting outfitters, there are a few things you should keep in mind when bowhunting elk. While the following is by no means exhaustive, here are five key things to keep in mind:

  1. Use gear that’s appropriate for bowhunting elk. Ideally, your draw weight should be 60-70 pounds or more. In no case should you bowhunt elk with a draw weight under 50 pounds. Unless given different advice from an experienced outfitter, use 100-125 grain broadheads. Two blade broadheads are generally preferable . Elk are easily three times as large as deer and require more penetration from your arrows. A heavier, two bladed broadhead will pack extra punch with less resistance, allowing your arrow to penetrate further. Make sure to wear your boots and other hunting gear. The last thing you want in the field is a brand new pair of boots to break in.
  2. Practice shooting larger targets. Ideally, use a life sized 3D elk target. Make sure you can accurately judge shot distance on an elk sized target. One of the major mistakes made when bowhunting elk is underestimating the range. This happens because those who are accustomed to estimating range on whitetail fail to take the elk’s size into account, causing them to believe the animal is closer than it really is. This is not a mistake you want to make when trying to choose a pin sight for a shot at a trophy elk. Make sure you can accurately estimate and shoot at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards.
  3. Educate yourself about elk. Most hunters won’t need much prodding, but it needs to be said anyhow. Immerse yourself at every opportunity. Read books and articles, watch bowhunting elk videos, do whatever you can to familiarize yourself with the mighty elk. Know where its vitals are, know what its habits are. The more you know before you get in the field, the better your chances of taking home a bull elk on your hunting trip.
  4. Condition yourself in the off season. When bowhunting elk, you’re likely to do plenty of walking. The more time you spend hiking in the offseason, the better prepared you’ll be for the rigors of chasing wapiti.
  5. Strongly consider using the services of professional elk hunting outfitters. Tagging a world class elk is truly a once in a lifetime experience for most hunters. Unless you’re a professional hunter yourself, your best bet is to find an outfitter who has a successful track record helping hunters take trophy elk. The best elk hunting outfitters typically lead guided hunts on a big game ranch.

Donald Hill, CEO of Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks, knows what it takes to bring home a world class elk taken with stick and string and can help you take home a trophy elk this season. Oak Creek offers first class accommodations and, most importantly, some of North America’s largest bull elk. Contact Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch to book a guided hunt this season.