(c) Jack Ballard
USE YOUR NOSE – The smelling ability of dogs and deer is thought to be a thousand times better than that of humans. But that doesn’t mean the appendage propping your eyeglasses or dripping snot is worthless.
Elk stink. The overall olfactory impression is similar to smelling a barnyard ripe with livestock manure. On many occasions I have caught the scent of elk, especially when hunting in the timber, before I have seen them. Sometimes the odor emanates from recently-abandoned beds. But often it comes directly from the animals.
If you catch a whiff of elk perfume, stop moving immediately. Engage your eyes and ears. The chances are high the elk are quite close. Listen intently for the sounds of moving hoofs or breaking twigs. An absence of such noise is good, and means the herd hasn’t spooked if it’s real elk you’re smelling. Spend enough time looking in the direction of the scent to scrutinize the cover. Your first movement should be to slowly drop from a standing position to a crouch which often allows a different and extended sight window into the woods.
From there, hunt at a snail’s pace in the direction of the scent. I’ve killed a couple of elk I stalked after smelling them. The nose knows.