Elk Hunting Essentials – Equipment List

My checklist for elk hunting in the mountains of Alberta and BC has been pared down to the bare essentials with the goal to travel light because elk hunts can be grueling affairs.

I now wear full camouflage clothing — fall brown or fall grey depending on whether snow is absent or present, respectively — and light, sturdy, insulated hiking boots. Warm gloves are essential.

I use light-weight 10×42 binoculars and make it a habit to check the focus when in the field. I don’t use a spotting scope when elk hunting the aspen parklands which have been my usual haunts over the past several years. I also pack a range finder.

I’ll use either a fanny pack or a day pack depending on where I’m hunting to carry my lunch, water and hunting accessories.

I carry extra ammunition, a first aid kit, a three-bladed Browning knife (skinning, hide-cutter and boning saw), sharpening stone, rope, a Wyoming knife to quarter or half a carcass, two-way radio to stay in touch with my hunting companion(s) and a cow call. I have matches and survival gear in case of emergencies. I’m prepared to stay in the bush overnight if necessary.

While I’ve taken most of my elk with a .270 Winchester calibre rifle (shooting 150-grain bullets) a few years ago I switched to a .300 Winchester Short Magnum (also known as .300 WSM) with 180-grain bullets for added knock-down power, a decision I don’t regret. Although there’s nothing wrong with a .270 Winchester caliber it doesn’t match the .300 WSM for big animals like elk and moose and has additional range. My rifle is fitted with a 3×9 variable scope, and a bipod, which has saved the bacon on more than one occasion.

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