What To Expect

Here’s what you need to know about hunting Roosevelt Elk.

Before you book your hunt

We want you to know what to expect. Before you book, we’ll have detailed conversations about the elk, the conditions where you’ll hunt, our rates of opportunity and success, and the gear you’ll need. We’re happy to answer questions by phone or email before the hunt and for as long as you need us afterwards.

Once you book your hunt

We’ll send you a contract to review, complete, and sign. Our hunts book quickly, so we require a 50% non-refundable deposit to hold your spot. The conversations about your upcoming hunt will continue as we go into detail about your options and preferences. You can also expect:

  • Periodic calls and/or emails to check on your preparation and progress
  • Equipment suggestions and a gear checklist
  • Shooting tips
  • Advice on how to prepare for your hunt
  • Updates on conditions as needed

We can also help you make travel arrangements, get Washington State licenses and tags, and plan for taxidermy and meat transportation.

The day before your hunt

Please arrive at the REO Lodge after 3:00 PM. We’re about halfway between Portland and Seattle but we’re pretty far off of Interstate 5, so we recommend that hunters who fly in rent a vehicle and drive to the Lodge, which takes 2-3 hours depending on traffic.  Once you get to the lodge, you’ll have time to:

  • Find your sleeping area and unpack.
  • Prepare your gear to hunt the next morning.
  • Check and tune your equipment as needed. Archery and muzzleloader hunters can practice and adjust gear at the Lodge. Modern firearms hunters can check zeros and shoot at the PeEll Sportsman’s Club. The extra time this takes is built into the modern firearms season schedule (noon arrival at the PeEll Sportsman’s Club).
  • Meet your guide and plan your hunt.
  • Get to know your fellow hunters.
  • Get a full brief on how we hunt and a full update on the latest game regulations.
  • Have dinner.
  • Go to sleep and dream of big bulls.

The Game

Roosevelt Elk occur only in the rain forests west of the Cascade Crest (the western edges of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia) and in Alaska. Their antlers are somewhat smaller than those of Rocky Mountain Elk, but their bodies are significantly larger. Mature animals are 6–10 feet (1.8–3 m) long and 2.5–5 feet (0.75–1.5 m) tall at the shoulder. Bulls weigh from 700 to 1,100 pounds (300–500 kg), while cows weigh from 575 to 625 pounds (260–285 kg). For reference, Roosevelt Elk are roughly 20% larger than Rocky Mountain Elk, about twice the size of Tule Elk, and slightly smaller than an American Quarter Horse. Like all elk, they’re strong and tough. If wounded, they’ll move into the lowest, nastiest cover you can imagine (more about that later).

Weather & Habitat

We hunt on huge tree farms on the Pacific Coast of Washington state. They look like easy walking from the road, but moving on them can be difficult because they’re rocky, hilly, steep, and wet. Thick cover alternates with huge open areas where you can see for miles. Archery season can get hot with temperatures reaching 75 degrees mid-day.  The muzzleloader season usually has moderate temperatures reaching 50-60 degrees mid-day, with occasional rain.  Rifle season is not bitterly cold, but it will usually rain.  You will want the best rain gear and boots that money can buy.

Hunting Methods

Roosevelt Elk are one of the toughest species of North American big game to hunt. We specialize in calling big bulls for archery and muzzleloader hunters during the rut. For modern firearms season, we use the spot-and-stalk method, and we hunt the timber as needed.

Rifles & Cartridges

The areas where we hunt are just a few hundred feet above sea level. They have plenty of dense brush, but it’s a mistake to confuse a Roosevelt hunt with brush hunting as found in the southern and eastern US. This is logging country. The elevation is low, but we can often spot elk miles away across clear cuts. You may spend some time in the timber, but you’ll spend more time on classic spot-and-stalk mountain hunting of the type that Jack O’Connor and Warren Page used to write about—it just takes place at much lower elevations within sight of the Pacific Ocean.

There are very few easy shots here. Some are offhand, fast, and close. Others are 300-500 yards, with a little more time to get a hit. Bring a rifle that you can shoot well in a hurry and that you can hit with at long range. We like to see hunters bring a scoped bolt-action rifle chambered for a high-velocity cartridge with a flat trajectory and plenty of punch downrange. It’s even better if that rifle is worn from plenty of previous hunting.

A cartridge that can drop a 1,000-pound elk RIGHT NOW can be the difference between passing up a shot and a trophy on your wall. Our hunters typically do well with the 300 magnums, and we use them for our own hunting. We consider the 30-06 and the 7mm Remington Magnum to be the minimum for Roosevelt Elk where we hunt them. Some of our hunters have done well with lighter cartridges. But others have gone home empty-handed because they weren’t confident that their choice could handle a long shot at a big animal across a windy canyon. You don’t need a 338 or a 375, but they’re not out of place if you can shoot them well.

You will also need a weather-resistant scope and Butler Creek (or equivalent) scope caps. Our wet, cloudy weather makes the gloom at each end of the day last a lot longer, so legal shooting hours and the time when you can actually see to shoot can be two very different things. A good scope can add 45 minutes of hunting time to each end of the day, and scope caps will keep it dry enough that you can actually use it.

We hunt in timber at times, so variables should have a low end of not more than 4x, and 2-3x might be better. When budget is an issue, a solid fixed-power scope is far better than a variable that fogs or won’t hold a zero.

Your rifle should have a synthetic stock. A wood stock can work IF it has been glass bedded and the barrel is free-floated. This helps with long-range accuracy, but is more because the rain and humidity here can cause a wood stock to warp and shift your point of impact even at fairly short range.

Shot placement is the most important factor in taking game, but the bullet must also penetrate and stay together. We strongly believe that it’s unwise to scrimp on the one piece of gear that actually kills your elk, so we recommend the Nosler Partition, Barnes TTSX, Swift A-Frame, Berger VLD-Hunter, and other premium bullets.

Once you get a zero, stop shooting from the benchrest. Learn to shoot from the positions that Jeff Cooper describes in “The Art of the Rifle”, especially offhand. Also practice the post rest for mid-range shots, and shoot out to 500 yards from prone or a rest in case a long shot comes up.

Again, there are very few easy shots here. Bring a rifle that you shoot well.

Physical Preparation

Our hunts can be as strenuous as you want to make them. No matter how strenuous that is, having limber joints and flexible muscles will make it easier. Our hunters and guides often spend a lot of time hiking on hilly terrain, so if nothing else, start walking NOW. As you get used to it, add a pack with a few pounds of gear and start walking up hills. Increase the load, distance, and incline until you can carry 25-30 pounds up and down hills for several miles several times a week without hurting the next day.

It also helps to build strength in your core and upper body. Several months before your hunt, start working on classic functional strength exercises, especially complex multi-joint moves like push-ups, dips, deadlifts, squats, chin-ups, overhead presses, lunges, kettle bell swings, etc. If you can’t get to a gym, then spend some time on calisthenics and standard body-weight exercises like push-ups, chin-ups, dips, and lunges.

Your entire body will thank you for doing this every night you spend in elk camp. And with any luck, you’ll use your new strength to pack out a huge rack and LOTS of meat.

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