We are excited to announce that we have partnered with the Idaho Fish and Game to provide a free elk calling seminar at the new IDFG building in Nampa, Idaho on August 23, 2019 at 6:30 p.m MT. The keynote presenter will be the ElkNut, Paul Medel. He will be joined by Chris Horton, founder of Elk Addicts. And for the youth attending, the recently crowned World Peewee Elk Calling Champion, Chris Fong, will also be in attendance.
This star-studded panel will be providing their insight into the art of elk calling and hunting over the counter public land elk. There will also be door prizes that have been donated by Exo Mountain Gear, Phelps Game Calls, Elk Addicts, and the ElkNut mobile app. Be sure to show your appreciation for these great companies by checking out their products in advance of the event!
The new IDFG building is located at 15950 N. Gate Blvd., Nampa, Idaho. If you would like to attend in person, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be broadcasting the seminar live for those who cannot attend in person. This will happen on the ElkNut mobile app Instagram page, @elknutapp. Either way, mark your calendars for Friday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. MT. You don’t want to miss this!
We have received some great feedback from customers since our last update to the ElkNut App. And while we can’t put all the suggestions to work, we have been able to make a couple major changes that you will see on this new version of the ElkNut App. If you already have the app downloaded, the update will be automatically pushed out through the App Store or Google Play store depending upon your device. If you don’t have the ElkNut App, you may purchase it on the App Store here or the Google Play Store here and it will be in this new format.
The most noticeable update to the app is the menu bar that is located at the bottom of the screen. We learned there is too much information on the app that not enough of our users were able to navigate to very easily. This new navigation bar lets users now right away that the ElkNut app is more than just a library of elk calls. It’s loaded with tips, tactics, and elk calling sequences to help you become a more successful elk hunter.
Speaking of sequences, we have added a substantially more detailed Slow Play sequence! This used to be tucked away in the Tactics section as one of the “ElkNut Nuggets.” But it’s such an important sequence, and Paul has expounded on it so much in this update, that we knew it needed to be more prominently featured. If you want to understand how to work every bull you encounter, you need the slow play sequence in your life!
We have also added two additional tactics to help the Early Season and Solo elk hunters. Check those out and let us know what you think! We get a lot of questions about these two topics, so we hope you will find the information helpful. We’ve also added a couple more ElkNut Nuggets (in the Tactics section), but we don’t want to spoil the surprise. Open up the app and see for yourself!
You’re also going to want to check out the newly updated “Products Used” section. Here you can find the products we recommend to help you to find the most success in the field. This section can be found under each elk sound included on the app. Select the sound, then you’ll see the screen showing the video, audio, tips, and products used. Definitely give these companies and products your consideration.
In sum, it’s short time; elk season is next month for many of us. We hope you will dive in to this app update and let us know what you think and other things we can do to improve it. As always, thank you for your loyalty and for sharing the app with friends and family. Remember, friends don’t let friends elk hunt without the ElkNut app.
After following along with Top Priority Hunting’s 2018 bear hunting season on YouTube this spring, we (Joel, Ryan, and myself) decided running a bear bait could be a great way to get out this spring, stretch the legs, do some scouting for fall, and perhaps even take a bear or two. We had no idea how much excitement this bear season would hold. Here is a recap of our season.
Pick a General Location. We knew a few areas that held bears from our experience hunting, and we listened up whenever there was a good bear hunting podcast. Brian Barney with Eastman’s Elevated put a couple great ones late winter that helped us decide on a location–close to grass, close to or near rocky areas where a den might be, and not too low in the elevation (as the snow would continually melt through the season and impact bear activity).
This was the night we picked the general area for our bear bait. Saw a bunch of elk to boot!
Start Gathering Supplies. We used a combination of molasses oats and old bread as the base for our bait. We also tried out a variety of scents and flavorings, including Moutlrie’s and Boar Masters among others. We also contacted a few local eateries about getting their old grease and picked up some chocolate sauce containers on the cheap from Costco. One truck load from the bread shop took care of our bread needs for about $20. As for the barrel, a friend helped us weld a chain to the barrel and cut a small hole in the side to limit the amount the bears could get to at a time.
Bear baiting is a family affair.
Set the Bait and Camera. We mulled over a few specific locations, but ultimately went a little higher up the mountain to set the barrel. We rode four wheelers a mile or two in and then hiked the last half mile or so straight up. It wasn’t so bad the first time. But the second, third, fourth, etc. time doing that hike with heavy packs full of bear bait got old fast. (Note to self for next time.) We picked a flat spot near a grassy park, dammed off the back of the barrel to force bears to enter from the direction of our stands and camera, and hacked off some limbs for the tree stands.
Bear baiting was a different type of heavy pack–good training for fall!
Feed the Bears. The next few weeks were a waiting game. Since it was a new bait site, it took a while for the bears to start hitting it. We had it set up on April 17 or so, and didn’t have our first bear until May 7, I believe. But once the bears started to come in, it didn’t take long for a lot of different bears to start hitting the bait. Between the three of us, we made sure to restock the bait about once a week, sometimes twice a week. We arm twisted whatever buddies we could get to come help us carry the bait up the steep hill to the site. Most of the bear action was at night, but early morning and later evening hours also started to produce some bear activity.
Here’s a good sized boar we happened to catch on camera during daylight hours.
The Hunt. We initially hunted the bait from the tree stands we set up. Unfortunately, we had assumed thermals would get the wind in our favor nicely for an evening hunt, without thoroughly vetting the directionals that time of day. Unfortunately, there was a fairly constant directional blowing up the draw. The bears were coming in above the stand, so any chance at sitting the stand and taking a bear were nixed early on. However, we shifted strategy a bit by coming in around and high, above the bait, and watching from a distance before stalking in. This produced some good encounters.
Joel’s Shot. The first encounter that produced a shot occurred in late May. Joel went in with archery tackle, hung out above the bait, the snuck in when he saw activity. He was able to sneak in to about 40 yards, and made what we thought was a pretty good shot on a bear. But unfortunately he was not able to recover the bear. We saw it show up a few days later on the trail camera and were not able to locate a carcass as the season went on.
Tayler’s Bear. I went up again a few days later, rifle in hand. I’d never taken a bear and didn’t have much more time to hunt. I wanted to get it done. So I sat up above the bait about 200 yards away with a good wind and waited. For about three or four hours. Finally, I heard the chains of the bait rattle. A couple blonde color phase black bears (they were regulars) showed up. I had already decided if the bigger of the two showed up, I would make an effort to take him. The trees around the bait were thick, and I didn’t have a clear shot, so I started slowly sneaking in. It took about five minutes, but I crept through the trees to about 60 yards before I had a good opening. I sat, rested the Tikka 6.5 Creedmore on my knee and waited for the right shot. The bigger of the two blondies walked back into view near the bait and sat down, facing immediately away from me. He slowly started to quarter to the left. I waited until he quartered enough to give me a good shot at the lungs on his opposite side–he did so a few second later, and I squeezed the trigger. He jumped, yowled and headed down hill out of view. The other bear lumbered off in confusion and stopped about forty yards to my right. I told him to move along and he obliged. After calling Ryan, my wife, and my dad, giving the bear a bit to bleed out and die, I hiked down to the bait. There was good blood. I peeked over the ledge and could see my bear piled up. Success! He was a younger boar with a beautiful blonde coat!
Blake’s Shot. Ryan’s younger brother Blake had been staying with us this summer, moving pipe for a local rancher. He hasn’t shown a lot of interest in hunting, but when he came up, he decided to give a bear hunt a go. So we signed him up for Idaho’s mentored hunter passport and Ryan and Joel took Blake to the bait. (Blake had also helped me haul in bait on one prior occasion, so he had some skin in the game.) On back to back nights Blake had a shot at that smaller blonde bear and unfortunately wasn’t able to connect. It was a good lesson for him that hunting doesn’t always come easy, and it’s important to invest time on the front end to practice shooting more and make sure you’re comfortable behind the trigger.
Summary. We made about 20 collective trips in to our bait with 50-70 pound packs. We probably saw about 25 different bears on camera, including two or three really quality boars. These big males rarely hit the bait during shooting hours, but it was fun to watch them through trail camera pictures. Ultimately we were able to come away with one really cool blonde bear and a ton of memories and lessons for next year. We feel bear hunting is an important part of conservation and were glad to do our part this year. Not only is bear meat good eating, but controlling the bear population is important to our elk and deer populations.
We have enjoyed working with Scott Ellis in developing the Turkey Tech mobile app. His turkey calling credentials are tried and tested in the field every year, and 2019 was no different. He completed another single season slam (his third), bagging each of the four species of gobbler in the United States. You can keep up with these hunts, and many great others, but subscribing to his YouTube channel, Hunt Quest.
Hunt Quest is in its third season, and in addition to a ton of great turkey hunting, you’ll also get to see Scott, his friends, and family, chase trophy whitetails, hunt hogs, and work some waterfowl. Watching these shows is a great way to sharpen your turkey hunting abilities during the off season, enjoy high quality hunting video productions, and get to know Scott a little better.
Please subscribe to Hunt Quest and let us know what you think of the show.
Our business is working with expert callers and hunters and disseminating their knowledge into a format that’s accessible and intuitive to our customers through mobile apps.
Providing additional information through a podcast platform goes hand in hand with this model. To this end, we’ve launched the Got Game University Podcast, which will be organized by series.
Each series will focus on hunting a certain game animal. Right now, our series include ElkNut, Turkey Tech, Duck Tech and Whitetail Tech (one for each app we’ve developed). Each series will primarily feature our expert callers on each app, with occasional guest appearance from other industry experts.
The focus of each series and episode will be to help the do-it-yourself hunter increase their odds of success hunting. If it’s elk you’re after, we want to help you learn the language so you can have more meaningful encounters with elk. Turkeys? The goal is to help you take gobblers pulse and tailor your calling to that specific bird in that specific situation, and then execute a well-placed shot. I think you get the picture. Knowledge equals power, and we want to help you become a force to be reckoned with in the woods!
This article was written by Luke, the oldest son of Got Game Tech founder, Tayler Tibbitts, putting into words his first big game animal hunt where he was the shooter.
Although I’ve been hunting with my dad before when he’s shot something, this late whitetail deer season was my first time having the gun in my hands. On December 29, 2018, I had turned ten, eight days ago, which is when youth can hunt big game in Idaho. The only general season open in my area was a late short-range weapon whitetail doe hunt. I was hunting with a Savage bolt-action .20 gauge shotgun with a slug.
My dad and I woke up at 6 a.m. and planned on hunting the
river bottoms that bordered some fields. I had butterflies in my stomach as we
left the truck and headed down to the creek bottom. We first saw some whitetail
does around 7:30 a.m., but shooting light wasn’t until 7:45 a.m.
At 7:45 a.m., the does we had seen moved to about 160 yards
away. This gun was sighted in for longer ranges than a typical shotgun and had
a scope, but that was still a long ways away. I tried to find the deer in my
scope to see how I felt, but had a hard time finding the deer.
Fortunately, another group of deer walked out in front of me
at 30 yards! I held still and was really quiet. I had some trouble taking the
safety off the gun as the first deer came into my sights. I thought I had it on
fire, but when I pulled the trigger nothing happened. This happened a second
time too! Finally, I was able to get the safety all the way off and settled the
cross hairs on one of the does.
I was resting the gun on the fence in front of me, and when
I pulled the trigger, the doe didn’t even run. She just dropped. I shot her
through both lungs. After I shot this deer, I felt happy and proud of myself
because I managed to shoot my first big game animal. My first phone call was to
my mom, and she was really excited for me. I also called my grandpa and uncle,
and they were excited too.
I helped field dress the deer by unzipping the hide on the
belly and holding the legs while my dad worked with the knife inside. After
finishing, we dragged the deer through the creek and across the field to our
truck. We aged the meat and turned it into steaks and jerky. We’ve eaten the
meat from my deer for dinner. It feels good to provide food for my family.
My favorite part of this hunt was the feeling of shooting
the deer, because of how exciting it was. I like hunting because of how hard it
can be–you might need to walk a long ways and do hard things to get the right
In 2019, I plan on shooting a mule deer buck and a bull elk.
I am going to apply for controlled hunt tags in Idaho, and if I don’t draw,
I’ll hunt over the counter. I am planning on scouting with my dad during the
summer and fall to prepare for my hunts.
The Got Game Tech team has partnered with whitetail wizard, Steve Stoltz, of Buckmen TV, to bring you a great tool that will help you become a better and more successful whitetail deer hunter.
The Whitetail Tech mobile app takes Steve’s hunting wisdom, which is expansive, and breaks it down in easy to digest sections and topics. On the app you can learn rattling sequences, review myriad hunting tactics, and even sharpen your deer calling skills. This app is a game changer, and it’s free for a limited time! Download it on the App Store and Google Play today!
My brother and I met up at the trail head late in the afternoon the day before Idaho’s general archery elk season opened. I had hunted mule deer with him down in Utah the week before, and this time it was his turn to play wingman. We were excited to spend three days on Idaho’s public land chasing bugling bull elk.
We headed up the trial with a plan in mind about how we wanted to spend the next three days hunting. I had two trail cameras set up in different drainages, and we figured we’d hustle up to the first trail camera to see what was in the area, and then hunt around that drainage the first day or so. After that, we’d transition into the second drainage, check that trail camera, and give that spot a go if things didn’t pan out earlier on.
That plan quickly changed. When we came up to the meadow that signaled our turn to the first trail camera, as well as the spot we wanted to camp, we came upon a group of thirty or so teenagers on a school-related wilderness campout. It was dusk, and we didn’t have a lot of time to call an audible. So we headed off trail to check the camera (which ended up having pictures of a couple good bulls in the area) then decided to chat with the campers and see what their plans were. They had arrived the day before and would be hiking all around in that drainage for the next two days. With that, we told them we were glad that youngsters were getting out to enjoy the great outdoors, and wished them well. Then we headed back down the trail, both agreeing Plan B had now become Plan A.
Things got a little tricky at that point. It was dark. I knew the general area in which to cross over into the other drainage, but it was just a game trail, and steep at that. We switched on the head lamps and made our best guess on the trail. I knew we were close, but we ran into a lot of downed trees, some cliffs we had to go around, and a pretty mean slide that was plenty nerve-racking. But by 11:00 p.m. we found ourselves at the saddle and gladly set up camp for the night. Hiking up that steep hillside with our camps on our backs had us beat.
Hunting with your camp on your back has its efficiencies. This is the Nemo Spike Tent.
The next morning it was easy to wake up, knowing that after eleven months of waiting, it was archery elk season again! We ate a quick breakfast, loaded up camp, and started down into the drainage with elk on the brain. I let off a location bugle no more than fifty yards from where we’d slept. We got an immediate bugle in reply. I looked at Ben and we knew this was going to be an historic day.
However, things didn’t quite pan out with this first bull. We tried to cut the distance in order to try our hand at the Slow Play calling tactic (as taught by Paul Medel, the ElkNut), in which you give a bull time to get fired up rather than starting out aggressive from the get go. But as we tried to close the distance, we bumped an elk on our left. We were pretty sure it was a different elk, but after that point we were not able to get a sound out of the bull we’d heard below our camp. After thirty minutes and no appearance, reply, or sound of an approaching bull, we decided to move on.
As we rounded a bend on the game trail, we looked across the drainage and saw a group of five bulls feeding their way up a steep slope. They were a long way off, far enough that we couldn’t see antler sizes through the binoculars. But it was early and we decided we had time to get around to this herd about the time they’d be bedding down. We picked a spot we thought they’d be when we got there and started out. As we approached it became clear that the group included five bulls, three were rag horns, one was a five point, and one was a six point. Perfect; we had options!
Bow in one hand, bugle in the other. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
The plan went really well for a while. But as we got within about 250 yards, we ran into a flock of grouse. As soon as one would explode out of the brush, we’d move along and another one would bust out. Any high country hunter knows how nerve-racking this can be! Anyways, when we got to the spot we’d picked from across the canyon, I let out a location bugle. No response. I waited another few minutes and bugled again. Nothing. We started to think that maybe we’d picked a spot that was too high and the elk had slipped below us. But we hadn’t heard anything, and it had started to warm up. There was a chance the elk had bedded down where we expected and they just weren’t interested in talking yet. We decided our best bet was to drop down into the trees about fifty yards and see if we couldn’t work our way into the herd of bulls with some cow calls.
The trees were thick, and our visibility was about thirty yards. Within about two minutes, we’d found one of the two bigger bulls in the group of five, but he stood about the time we realized where he was. I cow called and froze him, but I could only see his back half through the only available shooting lane. As I tried to take a few steps down hill, still cow calling, to get a better shooting lane, he busted, and the gig was up. We heard the five bulls crashing through the trees. Within minutes, they were standing at the location we were when we initially spotted them. It was not even 10:00 a.m., we’d been presented with two opportunities, and swung and missed both times!
After some water and food, we decided to head down the drainage and check that second trail camera I’d hung, which was on a wallow. I had found the wallow after hunting this area the year earlier and had marked the spot on my OnX app as one to explore next year. I’d only made it in three weeks earlier to set the camera, and this would be the first time we’d checked it. Who knew what we’d see? We also knew there was a good sized creek along the way and our sore feet and knees were calling for a little refresher.
The hike down was steep and slow going. We descended about 2,000 feet in elevation. At last we reached the bottom of the ravine. We found a great spring and saw a small mule deer buck (I had a mule deer tag in my pocket as well, but this buck wasn’t big enough to turn the elk hunt into a deer hunt quite yet). After wrapping around a ridge, we wound our way into the drainage with the creek. We took a quick soak and then enjoyed a great early afternoon nap. (Any honest archery hunter will admit that naps in the woods are the best!)
While scouting in early August I discovered the creek and meadow with this bull moose hanging out there. I knew I needed to come back during hunting season.
At about 2:00 p.m., we slung the packs back on our backs and headed up to the wallow. Although the action had slowed down over the past few days, there was a serious amount of elk, deer, and even moose coming into this wallow. There was a wide variety of branch antlered bulls as well as one shooter mule deer buck checking in. That decided it for us. With the elk so far not wanting to “play the game,” so to speak, when it came to calling, and considering we were pretty beat from our hiking around the drainage that morning, sitting at the wallow sounded like a plan worth trying.
Just a few of the bulls that came into the wallow in August 2018.
The setting was perfect for an ambush. We picked a spot with good wind and cover and started the waiting game at around 3:15 p.m. On and off I’d let off a location bugle or engage in some creative cow calling for a few minutes. But the wallow was tucked in a ravine and it didn’t seem like my calls were traveling far. By around 6:50 p.m., my focus was waning. Fortunately, my brother’s wasn’t. I heard him whisper my name, and when I glanced his way, he gave me the “there’s an elk” eyebrow raise. I slowly turned around again and didn’t see anything. Ten seconds went by and then I heard him.
Out stepped a six-point bull elk, on his way to what turned out to be another wallow above the one we’d been sitting on. Fortunately, while I had been waiting, I had ranged about every tree in the ravine and knew the distance from me to the bull. As he started towards the upper wallow, I tried to get my knees underneath me and bow in place. He looked at me from 40 yards away, and I froze. After about ten seconds, he turned to advance up the trial and took a couple more steps. I was able to kneel at this point, and when he put his head down to drink, I drew back my bow. When I did so and the bull didn’t look my way, I knew he was a dead elk. He was fifty yards from me, and when I lined up that green pin in my peep sight behind the bull’s shoulder, I let my arrow fly. I saw it hit right where I was aiming and the bull jumped. We heard him crash once in the brush out of sight and then nothing. I looked back at my brother; we both knew we’d done it!
This August archery bull expired not far from where he was initially hit. His death was quick. And he would feed my family for months. We were very thankful. I walked up in awe at the size, strength, and overall impressiveness of these great creatures.
It was about 7:30 p.m. at this point, and we got to work boning out the bull. We knew we were in for a long night. At 9 p.m., we were all loaded up and ready to head down the trail. My brother took the two game bags with the bull’s hind quarters. His pack was full with bivy gear, so he tied the two game bags together and wore them like a squat bar across his shoulders and behind his neck. I had the front quarters in one game bag and the miscellaneous bag (backstraps, tenderloins, neck meat, etc.) in another bag. My EXO pack was loaded full of bivy gear myself, but fortunately the pack has a nifty meat shelf. I was able to fit the miscellaneous bag down in the meat shelf, and then stacked the other game bag on top of the pack and lashed it down. Finally, I held the bull’s head and antlers in my arms like a curl bar and we started out. For the first mile, there was no good trail, and we bushwhacked it for three hours to cover that mile. We hadn’t had dinner and were running on a Five-Hour Energy shot a piece. When we finally did reach a cognizable trail, we collapsed and rested. It was 12:15 a.m. Three and a half miles to go.
On an actual trail, we did make better time. But our bodies were tired and it became an exercise in “mind over matter.” At just a little before 3:00 a.m., we finally found our vehicle at the trail head. What a night (and early morning)! I’d managed to tag out on a great Idaho public land bull elk on the opening day of archery season (even if we didn’t get him to the truck until technically the second day), and my brother was there every step of the way.
Here are a few things I learned from this trip:
1. Build off of your failures. In 2017, I didn’t fill my elk tag. I hunted long and hard, sometimes with family or friends, sometimes solo, for a total of nine days. Each day we had at least one opportunity, and each day I came up empty. On the last day of the 2017 season, we had one of those amazing days with the rut on full tilt, and just about came away with an incredible herd bull. But once again I got beat, that day by the setting sun. On the hike out in the dark, I nearly fell in what looked to be a great wallow. I marked it on my On X app and decided I wanted to come back to this wallow next year. Lo and behold, this wallow is the one I set my trail camera on in early August this year. It’s the one that we decided to sit that afternoon on opening day. And it’s the one I shot my bull on. There’s always room to build on time spent hunting, even if you don’t always get your tag punched.
2. Details matter. One thing I didn’t mention above. When I sat down at the wallow, it was after about eight hours of hard hunting and hiking. I’d pretty much sweated off my Nature’s Paint face paint. Part of me wanted to say, no biggie, it probably won’t matter anyway. But I decided to reapply some face paint with the expectation that I would need it when an elk came in. And an elk did come in. And I did need it. That bull looked right where I was before I ultimately had a shot. Fortunately for me, my face wasn’t glowing and he gave me an opportunity to shoot. That reapplication of face paint detail mattered immensely.
3. A good hunting partner is priceless. Having my brother along was a game changer. He helped keep me focused when I was losing it. He spotted the elk I killed well before I did. And having his help on the pack out was priceless. Thinking about packing that elk out solo, after the grueling six-hour hike with my brother’s help, is staggering. My brother reduced the pain of the pack out by at least fifty percent. (He’s also 6’3″ and 240 pounds, so he can carry a lot.) I highly recommend finding a good hunting partner to take with you elk hunting.
There are probably many other principles to glean from this elk hunt. But those are the high points. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labors, namely elk steak, burger, roast and jerky, until we are blessed enough to do it again next year.
It’s always awesome bringing a successful hunt’s rewards back for the family to see!
Many of our great customers have asked when we’re going to bring them a duck calling app. Well, the time has come! We’ve partnered with three-time world champion duck caller, Barnie Calef, on our newest app called Duck Tech. You can find it on the App Store and Google Play.
Barnie Calef waiting serenely for a flock of ducks to fly over the blind.
You’ll see the familiar, tried and true methodology making sure you know how to make a call, what the call means, and when to use it when hunting so you can find more success. If you are a duck hunter, or want to be a duck hunter someday, we hope you’ll check out this app here and let us know what you think.
Each season we try to make improvements to the ElkNut app to continually give our app users a competitive edge in the elk woods. To that end, we have just rolled out an entirely new section of the ElkNut app called “ElkNut Nuggets.”
This section is located in the Tactics section of the app as seen here:
Then you scroll down to the Tactic entitled “ElkNut Nuggets”:
Once you open it, you’ll see ten tactics, including:
The Slow Play
Bugling Bulls Moving Away
Those Advertising Bugles!
Bugling Too Aggresivley
Herd Bull Tactic – Herd Bull with Hot Cow
Calling Before Daylight
Two-Man Call and Stalk
Opening the Corridor
When Bulls Cow Call
Understanding Emotion in Elk Calling
Be sure to get your app updated if you have it, or if you don’t, definitely check it out here.