Elk – The Healthy Red Meat!

Are you looking forward to an elk hunt at The Wilderness Reserve? Or did you enjoy a guided hunt this past year? Beyond the excitement of the hunt and the relaxation of being surrounded by such majestic nature, the meat harvested has great value. The Wilderness Reserve can help you work out the transportation details and even give you some preparation tips to make the most out of your Midwest elk hunt.

The Health Value of Elk Meat

Did you know that elk meat is exceptionally low in fat? In fact, it has less fat and cholesterol than veal, chicken, beef or pork. The fat that it does contain is what’s referred to as ‘the healthy fat’, Omega-3. Even better, explains that the meat is high in protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Most game tends to be healthier for us than store bought meats, but elk is even better for you than venison!

And that’s just the actual nutritional value of eating your harvested meat. There is also huge health returns for the hunt itself. All the fresh air and cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart, lungs, and even your emotional health because nature has long been recognized as a healing force. So what’s not to love?

Cooking Elk Meat for a Tasty Meal

Just like with venison, elk can be substituted for many of your favorite recipes that call for beef. Roasts, steaks, burgers, and stews are all very tasty when made with elk meat (and healthier!). The trick is to understand the differences in cooking technique needed for the best outcome. Elk shrinks a lot less than beef when it cooks, but it also cooks faster and dries easier.

  • Marinate the meat for tenderness and flavor.
  • Take care not to overcook – chefs recommend heating only to medium.
  • Don’t pierce with a fork or knife while cooking; the tasty juices will flow out.
  • Cook quickly to prevent drying.

No matter how you serve it, elk will make for a delicious lunch or dinner. Some cooks even substitute it in less traditional methods, such as for fajitas or stroganoff. The beef like texture is an easy adaption in your diet, and the flavor is only slightly gamey, which suits varying taste buds.

If you are looking for an awesome wild game marinade, check out the Ultimate Wild Game Marinade on the Elk Network sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Plan a Meal from Your Midwest Elk Hunt

So you have decided to give elk a shot and see for yourself how delightful it is. But what to serve with it? Game meat is best served with complementary fresh foods, both for taste and health aspects. And the right wine will have you savoring every bite!

Start with the drinks. Both venison and elk meat are well paired with a rich red wine, although if you prefer a lighter body, there are still plenty of choices. Try a pinot noir or a Zinfandel, or even chardonnay if that’s your favorite.

Tasty Brussel SproutsNext, on to the side dishes. Stick with the fresh theme, and focus on vegetables that will bring out the essence of the main course. You can’t go wrong with oven-roasted vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and rutabagas. Brussel sprouts are also an excellent partner, and add color to the plate nicely. Wild rice is a popular choice for an elk side, and cranberries are often served with game roasts.

When it comes to dessert, you might want to go light because the main course is sure to be filling. Fresh fruits are a wonderful way to complete the meal on just the right note. Roasted peaches with a caramel glaze, banana fosters, blackberry crepes or strawberry shortcake are all fairly light but delectable. Or go a more traditional route and top vanilla ice cream with fresh blackberries.

Hunt in the Midwest Before Cooking

Although there are restaurants and meat markets that offer venison and elk, there’s nothing quite like taking the whole journey yourself – from the woods to the table. Take pride in the immense satisfaction of harvesting the trophy of a lifetime with a guided elk hunt at The Wilderness Reserve. Not only will you gain many healthy meals, but memories that will stick with you for years to come!

Book Your Guided Elk Hunt Today!

The Challenges and Rewards of Late Season Elk Hunting

Hunting elk, even in the best of weather and conditions, can be challenging and often leaves the hunter unsuccessful. Elk seem to have a magical ability to avoid the eager hunter on public land, which can be frustrating after investing all that time and money in the effort. Late season elk hunting is no different, but brings its own set of challenges and rewards, whether on public land or a hunting preserve like The Wilderness Reserve.

Understanding Elk Behavior in Late Fall & Early Winter

Elk Grazing Late WinterThe key to a successful harvest, no matter the game you seek or the time of the year, rests on the ability to understand and predict animal behavior. This can take years to grasp, but there’s no better time than the present to start giving it a shot and fine-tuning your elk intuition. So what are the majestic bulls up to at this time of year?

Typically, the snow is beginning to push the elk downhill from higher elevations, where the snow has buried the food. As they browse on fir needles and paw for patches of hidden grass, they turn a lighter color of brown or gray as their coat of hair thickens in response to the cold. Elk are also gathering together in the large herds they will remain in through the winter.

As with all Northwoods wildlife, elk are busy in the fall bulking themselves up for the winter season. The bulls don’t shed their antlers until later in the winter or early spring, so they still need to take in those extra calories to maintain that weight. Knowing where the elk are foraging for food can be the key to successful late season elk hunts.

The Challenges of Late Season Elk Hunting

There are naturally a different set of challenges to hunting elk during the late season. Many elk hunters rely on elk calls for the hunt, and this isn’t an effective tool post rut. Physically, the hunt is harder because the hunter faces wading through deep snow and withstanding cold temperatures for long periods of time. Predicting where the big bull will be is only part of the trial.

The physical requirements of a late season hunt aren’t to be underestimated. Elk can walk for a dozen or more miles a day, covering great distances for food. This means that the hunter must be prepared to hike through deep snow, or be smart enough to accurately predict where the bull will be at what time of day. As with anything, though, a bigger challenge means a bigger reward!

The Rewards of Late Season Elk Hunting

If you are hunting public land, the late season means that there are less hunters in the woods. The elk are less likely to be disturbed in their daily movements by the presence of humans. As the big bulls are often successful in eluding early season hunters, you have to chance to harvest a real trophy!

The forest itself at this time of year is a breathtaking reward. With nothing but trees and nature surrounding you, the peacefulness of the forest is magnified by the covering of the snow. Sounds are muffled more, and nature’s beauty is only enhanced. And the white coating allows hunters an easier view, making the coloring of a bull stand out that much more. If you brave the late season hunt and beat the challenges, the sense of accomplishment when you succeed will be that much greater!

Tips for Late Season Elk Hunts

How to master the challenges of late season hunting? Be flexible and adapt! Although elk calls aren’t as effective, this is a great time of year to employ tracking techniques. Whereas a forest floor covered in fallen leaves and debris can easily hide tracks, as well as make quiet movement impossible, a covering of snow makes an elk’s path stand out clearly.

Watch for tracks that have sharp edges and no debris in them as these are indicators of freshness. Look for the path between feeding and sleeping spots. Watch for fresh rubs on the trees, as these are typically in the middle of the bulls daily range and it’s unlikely the path has changed significantly yet. Also check clearings for droppings and signs of freshly eaten vegetation.

Bulls tend to be at slightly higher grounds than the cows, so adjust up after spotting a cow herd. You are more likely to find them on south facing hills than the north side. These areas tend to be warmer with less snow, and thus more food. Most importantly, try to think like the bull because interpreting his behavior accurately can save you from miles of hiking without even a glimpse of your trophy. And when you succeed with a late season elk hunt, pat yourself on the back because not all hunters are dedicated enough and brave enough to attempt this challenge! Once you’ve got your trophy elk, check out this blog on Cooking Elk Meat for a Tasty Meal!

Guided Elk Hunts at The Wilderness Reserve

Seasonal Elk BehaviorElk hunting packages at The Wilderness Reserve are available from September through Christmas, with late season hunts offering a unique experience for hunters of all abilities. Spotting a proud bull through the snow-tipped branches of the forest is a thrill, and harvesting your trophy is the memory of a lifetime! And nothing is as cozy as returning to a secluded Northwoods cabin to spend the evening recounting the day’s adventure in front of a roaring fireplace! Experience the wonders of elk hunting for yourself on 5,500 acres of quality managed habitat at The Wilderness Reserve! 

Book Your Guided Elk Hunt Today!

Rocky Mountain Elk Hunting: Elk Talk

Experienced sportsmen know that the most successful hunters are those that study and understand the game they hope to capture. Knowing the animal’s daily movements, habitats and behavior gives you an edge in the wild, and creates an unspoken connection between the hunter and the hunted. And if you are hoping to experience the successful thrill of a Rocky Mountain elk hunt, it’s helpful to interpret the creature’s communications.

Understanding Rocky Mountain Elk Calls

Like all animals, Rocky Mountain elk have a diverse set of communication signals with different meanings. For elk, communication involves vocal calls, scents and movements that vary, depending on the time of year. There are four main types of elk calls, each used with different pitches and in different combinations to convey the intended message.

  • Bugles: This is the most familiar of elk sounds, as it can be heard over long distance. Bulls bugle to announce their presence to competitors and cows, sometimes to indicate their strength and readiness to fight and sometimes to impress the cow. Challenge calls are often followed with grunts or chuckle sounds.
  • Chirps, mews, and squeals: These softer sounds are typically used to communicate in everyday conversation.
  • High-pitched squeals: This is the distress signal from a newborn calf to its mother, and the cows can identify their offspring by their individual squeal.
  • Barks: The barking noises are warning signals, given sharp and loud. A cow will sound off a long, drawn out mew when she’s injured or trapped.

The bugles of each bull are singular to that animal, and can be useful to hunters in locating the bull as well as determining the size because older, larger bulls will have a deeper bugle. With such a wide range of sounds, it can take some time to gain insight into elk behavior. But it is an extremely useful tool for the hunt, and is worth the time to study and learn as much as possible.

Hunting with Elk Calls

Hunting With Elk CallsMany hunters believe your chances of capturing a trophy elk depend on mastering the elk calls. But opinions vary greatly about which calls are the best to use, and how and when to apply this hunting technique. It really comes down to the individual hunters’ style, as well as your ability to perform the calls accurately. If you aren’t good at it, you shouldn’t bother because a call done wrong, or used at the wrong time, can have the opposite of intended affects.

The best bet is to practice at home with a variety of calls, and consider each approach in relation to your hunting style. Whether you choose a diaphragm mouth call, a grunt tube, or an open reed style call, make sure you have plenty of practice in!

Using calls during the rut is said to be most effective, but using a raking call pre-rut can attract a bull, and bugle calls pre and post rut can alert you to the bull’s location. Be careful with bugle calls because the bull might move in the opposite direction. If you are near a herd, using an excited cow call can draw the bull in.

The Wilderness Reserve offers a convenient Midwest location for out West quality big game hunting! With a guided elk hunt at The Wilderness Reserve, you can enjoy the chance to catch the trophy of a lifetime on 5500 acres of premiere hunting land. Hunt packages include 3 nights lodging in one of our secluded cabins, with its own private lake for your enjoyment. If you’ve already got your trophy elk, check out this blog on Cooking Elk Meat for a Tasty Meal! Ready to experience the excitement of a big game hunt for yourself?

Book your Trophy Rocky Mountain Elk Hunt Today!