Ready to learn How to Prepare for Emergencies in Elk Hunting? These simple tips will help you prepare for your public land elk hunt in order to keep yourself safe while in the backcountry.
Elk like cold weather, so many states such as Colorado will get you licenses that last over late October to early January, right when the weather is both temperamental and also uncertain. For example, you may know what to expect in late January – but November and December are the times when you may get lulled into security when turns of the weather catch you out.
While there are a number of other precautions to be taken while hunting to ensure your safety, we will be talking about physical safety for the most part as we discuss how to prepare for emergencies when elk hunting in our discussion below.
First Aid Pack
There are potentially three things that a serious hunter should do in terms of quick responses to medical emergencies:
- Take some basic training in CPR, stemming blood flow etc.
- Carrying an all-around “How To …” book like
- Carrying a suitable first aid pack
The medical first aid pack for a hunt needs to provision for more accidents and emergencies than a basic kit you could keep in the home or office.
The kit above has over 200 items, but whatever one you choose, it should include the following:
- Protective gear such as medical gloves, eye masks and surgical masks
- Dressings, band-aids etc. for small wounds and blisters
- Tourniquets and pressure wraps to stem blood
- Seal to help in case of penetrating chest trauma
Much of your time is going to be spent away from areas without cell phone signals. So satellite communication devices – which are vastly improved these days – are essential items factor hunters. I use the Garmin inReach Explorer+ model. Besides regular communication, you can set up specific communications for emergency communication, depending on the options on the device you choose:
- Emergency signals/beacons
- Text custom messages
- Ways to share your location
Keep the device charged and test it out so you know how to activate and use it. Such communication could mean the difference between being found or getting in serious trouble.
Know the Area and Evacuation Routes
Every area you go to will have a Parks & Wildlife Department. For example, in Colorado, there is the Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Find the right department and get on the phone with the hunting consultants they have.
Not only will they know where to find the herding zones for elk and the best times of the day to hunt (e.g., elk feed below the snow line if there is more than 15” of snow and they feed more towards the middle of the day when it turns cold), they can tell you the best and safest routes to take in and out of the area, which parts to avoid and most importantly, the right evacuation routes if things get messy weatherwise.
GPS Systems for Backcountry Hunting
To keep track of your location for entering and exiting public lands, use a GPS-based hunting map like onX for hunting. Before you set out, make sure to download your route maps to your Offline Maps account on the onX Hunting maps account – way before you get out of cell range.
This could be a vital part of your decision on how to prepare for emergencies when elk hunting.
Share Itinerary and Contact Information
Share your intended hunting route with your family or point of contact. Many public lands also require you to sign in/out on a clipboard. Be sure to do this so the rangers know you’re out hunting in the event that you run into an emergency. This can be critical as you think about how to prepare for emergencies when elk hunting.
We talked about satellite communication devices. If you have a onX or other GPS mapping app, share Waypoints or Tracks for specific touchpoints during your planned trip. This way, if you fail to check-in or are late to return, your contacts know a starting point from which to spread out and look for you.
Monitoring the Weather Forecast During Your Hunt
Many of the hunting situations you will find yourself are in will involve bad weather – be it rain, storms, snow, sleet, and even deep freezes. There are multiple precautions you should take if you go elk hunting in the late seasons, especially. OnX for hunting includes a weather feature that allows you to see the forecast for your hunting area.
- Know the historic weather during the period and in the area you are going to
- Track weather carefully going in
- Find a hunting app with a weather and wind conditions page – which you can use to track the weather during your actual hunt. For example, the Wind and Weather button in the onX hunting app can keep you safe.
Watch the animal behavior which can predict changes in barometric pressure.
Dress warmly, in layers, especially in winter. Stay safe and don’t go off-road if the weather turns south – and even less so unless your car tires have chains.
Preparation is key for a safe elk hunt on public lands.
Additional posts that will help you plan a successful elk hunt on public lands.
- November Elk Hunting in Colorado
- Merino Wool for Hunting
- Which Colorado Elk Hunting Season is Right for You?
Recommended gear for public land elk hunting
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Primal Pioneer is a food blog and public land hunting resource by Mike and Jennifer Shreckengost. We’re a husband and wife team who combined their two passions – a love of the outdoors and food – into a joint effort with Primal Pioneer! You’ll find resources on planning and executing your own DIY over-the-counter public land big game hunt, along with wild game recipes featuring mostly venison and elk.