Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo from Archers Choice TV is a husband and wife team who have hunted all over the world together. They enjoy bowhunting Rocky Mountain Elk. Over the last several decades, they have hunted elk across the country and know what it takes to put an elk on the ground. I recently interviewed Ralph about his favorite elk hunting tactics.
Every elk hunter dreams of calling in a big bull, but Ralph enjoys hunting them like whitetails also. “Early in the season, I like to sit over water and wait for elk to come get a drink. Like whitetail hunting sometimes sitting for hours and hours is worth it. Many hunters don’t like this tactic but it works very well. In the early season, bulls aren’t typically coming to calls and the weather is very hot. Everything needs a drink so sitting over water is a great tactic,” Ralph explained.
Another reason Ralph likes hunting over water is because it doesn’t disturb the elk. “Many hunters run and gun during the early season, hoping they can find a hot bull. Instead of finding a hot bull, they educate the elk in the area. Sitting over water isn’t as exciting as calling in a bull, but it works well and doesn’t spook the animals. I love calling in bulls but I wait until the rut for that,” Ralph added.
Use an Elk Decoy
When the bulls start screaming in the rut, Ralph likes to use a Montana elk decoy to bring the bull the last few yards. “Bulls like to see that cow they hear calling in the brush which is why they often hang up just out of bow range. We have had great success outsmarting bulls with the Montana elk decoy. When the bull sees the cow decoy, he is often convinced that she is the real thing and comes the last 10 or 20 yards that we need for a close shot,” Ralph noted.
Elk Estrus Scent
Most deer hunters use urine to build mock scrapes and bring bucks in but for some reason, elk hunters don’t use elk urine when elk hunting. Ralph says that is a mistake. “Elk give off a very strong odor. “I have removed the bladder of elk in the past and used the urine in a spray bottle,” Ralph said with a laugh. “I like using urine because if the wind shifts and a bull gets my scent at the last second, he sometimes gets confused if he smells elk urine at the same time. If he hesitates at the last second before he bolts, it gives me enough time to let an arrow fly.”
This fall, Ralph and Vicki will be using the Wyndscent Unit which puts out a heated vapor scent that can be smelled a great distance away. Elk estrus is one of the scents offered in the Wyndscent lineup.