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Old July 10, 2018, 08:43 PM   #1
Join Date: December 1, 2017
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Washington Elk Hunt: Nov. 2018

Hi Guys,
I'm planning out my first ever elk hunt. My wife's parents live in Washington state, so were going to make the trip from Indiana to visit in November...And I'm going to get out for a few days on an elk hunt. This will be for the "modern firearm" season which starts Nov.3.
So far, I've researched a good bit and I'm very close to being settled on GMU 654. It's just west of Mount Rainier. This will be an over-the-counter tag, and I'll be limited to public ground. Does anyone have any experience hunting elk or any other deer types in Washington or nearby? Any elk hunters out there with any tips?
Gear: Browning X-Bolt in .270 Win, Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14, Hornady Precision Hunter 145 grain. The rest of my gear is typical of most midwestern whitetail bow-hunters...binos, camo, boots, etc.

Any tips and advice is helpful,
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Old July 10, 2018, 09:09 PM   #2
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Your rifle is a good choice (brand and cartridge.) Your scope is excellent EXCEPT 4.5x magnification is too much for the lowest power and 14x is excessive for the maximum power. I recommend a variable power scope with the lowest power at 2x, 2.5x or 3x. I've hunted elk three times. Didn't see even one elk on my first hunt. I got a small 5 x 5 bull on my second elk hunt, and a very large 5 x 5 bull on my last elk hunt. The big one is on my wall! My last hunt was in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on the west slope of the continental divide in Montana. I wish you good luck on your hunt. Enjoy your hunt!
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Old July 11, 2018, 01:16 AM   #3
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I hunt that same area, just not that same GMU (Mashel). Lots of elk, also lots of elk hunters who set up camp in late August and camp until end of the season. It's possible to score a nice bull. It's also possible to get snowed out by Halloween. Hunt north of HWY 410 for best odds.

Your rifle and gear will do fine in the mountains, probably more elk killed with 270s and 30-06s than the gun rags would have you believe.

The whole Mashel area has lots of roads and logging skids, so find an area at least 3-4 miles from the closest blacktop and study the maps until you know them by heart. Make sure you have good sturdy boots and are in good shape, the Mashel area goes from about 4,000 ft to over 10,000 ft, and elk can be at either extreme. I have seen bulls down by the river in October, and in knee-deep snow right before the opener. If you have someone who has hunted the area a lot, it can save you days and days of scouting.
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:39 AM   #4
Join Date: June 30, 2017
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I like the rifle and cartridge.

Would prefer a scope in the 2-7 variable range.
I grew up hunting out of Yakima, Mount Clemmons area, and way up the Wenas Valley.
More open then your area, but most elk are taken at inside of 200yds. And usually on the verges of heavy brush.

Good luck, dress warm, have fun
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Old July 11, 2018, 02:32 PM   #5
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I suggest Gortex or Cabelas' Dry Plus clothing. It does rain a lot here in November. You will need to wear a hunter orange vest during rifle season. Good luck.
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:04 PM   #6
Join Date: December 1, 2017
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Thanks for the advice!
Do you have any suggestions on other GMU's. Because Hwy 410 is north of that particular GMU 654 (which is only an idea of mine at this point, I'm not dedicated to it yet). How do you feel about GMU 460? 466? For me, its better on the family if I'm closer to Bellevue.
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Old July 11, 2018, 08:09 PM   #7
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I'll certainly look into that. Would be very valuable, a make or break actually. Thanks for the advice.
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Old July 13, 2018, 01:19 AM   #8
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Do you have any suggestions on other GMU's.
The biggest problem is that WDFW has broken up the map with lots of smallish areas and then put special hunts in place across the best areas. If it were me, I would go north of 410 and farther east, probably gmu 240 or thereabouts. Not that the Bumping or Goose Prairie areas don't have elk, they just don't have many good bulls, there is too much access for the bulls to get very big. Lots of spikes and cows, the big bulls like the higher, more remote areas. That said, 2 years ago I saw a great bull in that GMU.

Closer to Bellevue there are a lot of bulls, but Western WA hunts tend to be wet and thick undergrowth. But you do have a great chance to bag a bull.
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Old July 13, 2018, 05:56 AM   #9
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Good luck.
I did some DIY hunts when I was younger and they can be fun OR a complete bust. Finding someone willing to pass information about travel patterns and hidey holes would be very advantageous.
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Old August 7, 2018, 07:28 AM   #10
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GMU 654 is mostly private property. The largest land owner charges a fee to enter. You have to buy an annual permit to enter. By the time you are in Washington the limited number of permits will likely be sold there is a little DNR property, but it is crowded with hunters. 2 years ago I hunted the DNR and counted 25 hunters on about 100 acres of land

There is some DNR land in unit 510 and 513 that are accessable. Look up the DNR website for maps

Best of luck on your hunt. There are some nice bulls here. Post pictures if you're successful.
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Old August 7, 2018, 10:14 AM   #11
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I'd say your set-up is spot on. I, personally, wouldn't worry about the optic. If you end up with a really close shot, you may be a smidge over-powered for quick target acquisition, maybe... just a skosh... very little. But especially the top end... I personally don't mind seeing clearly.

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Old October 14, 2018, 05:14 AM   #12
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I am in Eastern Washington, interested to know where you went.

There's a few areas near Yakima county close to the Cascades that I have heard elk can be found, and have seen them along I-82 a couple times. I believe they are more common on in western and northern WA, GMU 654 would probably be a good try.

There are statistics from the WFWD that list where what was harvested, how many hunted there, percentages of successful hunts, etc, but I can't seem to find the correct page at the moment. I am limited to local hunting areas because reasons.
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Old October 14, 2018, 12:43 PM   #13
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A lot of us prefer a lower power scope, especially on the low end of the range. 4.5x? ok, probably fine. But, before you go, take the gun into some thick woods at your home, and look around with the scope, set on different powers. See what you can see, especially at the low end. If you have any problems in your home woods, expect the same, or worse in elk country.

Another point, your Browning X bolt, does it have iron sights??

I am a firm believer in having iron sights as a backup on any game rifle, as a back up, just in case. Especially when you are travelling half way across a continent to hunt. Murphy likes to elk hunt, too.

back up sights, on the rifle (and a screwdriver) means if the scope fails / is rendered unusable (for any reason) you can be back hunting within a couple minutes, instead of being thousands of miles from home (and probably several miles from camp) with a rifle you can't aim.

A back up scope is another alternative, if your scope packs it in, but takes a bit of time to mount and sight in. A complete back up rifle, (already sighted in) is best, but isn't practical for many folks.

Another point, if at all possible, verify the zero of your rifle, as close to the altitude you will be hunting as you can. My Google-fu says the highest point in Indiana is 1200ft. hunting at 4000ft is DIFFERENT. 10,000feet is different again. it WILL make a difference in POI at range. Will it make a "minute of elk" difference?? Can't say. Only way to know is to test your rifle & ammo (and you) as close to "operating altitude" as you can.

The air is different at a mile + above sea level. It can matter.

Dress warm, in layers, carry basic survival kit, Mountain storms can come up very quickly, and in November in the high Cascades, that fine sunny morning could dump a foot of snow on you before 10am...and be clear as a bell again at noon. And, don't count on your cell phone working. It might, it probably will, but don't count on it.

Be well aware of the dangers of hypothermia. If you do get caught in a storm, hunker down, shelter, wait it out. Be prepared to do that. Be prepared to survive overnight alone. Someone will be looking for you, eventually.

Like most things, if you are well prepared, you are unlikely to need it. But if you aren' really don't want to be in that situation.

Good luck with your hunt!!
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Old November 1, 2018, 01:17 PM   #14
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Get yourself an orange poncho. It does rain.
Beside that Scorch pretty much said all you need. Know the area, walk as much of it as you can.
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Old November 3, 2018, 10:17 PM   #15
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Get GOOD rain proof gear, folks have said its rains. No it is raining and will be raining alot. BUT if you are foot you’ll sweat.

That said I’ve seen herds of elk nearing 100 head over in that area but dont count on it. Might be onesie twosie.

Post up if ya bag one.
Just shoot the damn thing.
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