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 Elk Hunting on Vancouver Island

Anything you need to know about the best time, places, outfitters, and regulations of Vancouver Island elk hunting, you can find here. We are ready to help you make a rewarding BC hunting opportunity.

✓ Roosevelt elk are a threatened species on Vancouver Island, so there is no general open season for hunting this game. However, each year you may get tags to harvest a limited number of elk legally.

✓ The content is valid until June 30, 2022.

Elks are important game animals in British Columbia, prized for their meat and antlers. Over several decades, harvests have ranged from 500 to 4000 animals per year. Four subspecies of elk inhabit North America, and two of them live in British Columbia; Roosevelt elk and Rocky Mountain elk (with lighter-coloured than their bigger-bodied cousin, the Roosevelt elk). Roosevelt elk (Roosies, as the locals know them) are indigenous to Vancouver Island, and they are the only species that can be found on the island. The University of Victoria estimates that approximately 3,200 Roosevelt elk exist in BC, and its number on Vancouver Island is about 3,000. Among all other species, Roosevelt elk are larger in size with larger and more rugged antlers. A mature bull (Male elk) can weigh over 500 km (1000 pounds), and a cow (Female elk) about two-thirds that size. Elk hunting is considered a challenging sport during hunting season because big game such as elk has a very specific habitat.
Taking the time to understand where you are hunting can pay off in spades when the elk are not bugling and hard to locate. They have smaller home ranges. Elk prefer being in remote areas, away from road access and the accompanying negative human activity. Rugged coastal valleys and misty mountain slopes are home to this majestic big game animal. Elk behave a bit like white-tailed deer; they stay close to cover and are extra careful. If they are under pressure by hunters or other human activity, elks withdraw to even full cover.

History of Hunting Elks on Vancouver Island

The name Roosevelt elk is after President Theodore Roosevelt. Historically, elk are relative newcomers to North America compared to the fossil history that goes back a million years to southwestern Asia. Long before the first European explorers came to British Columbia, elk had an essential rule in the First Nations subsistence economy. They hunted elk to use their products for food, clothing, decoration, implements, weapons, and a medium of exchange. Nowadays, Vancouver Island First Nations people harvest small numbers of elk for food and ceremonial purposes. According to the BC Government Elk Document, BC elk hunting is almost regulated. It has created substantial licence revenue for conservation programs, income for hunting guides and their employees, and thousands of recreation days.

Vancouver Island Roosevelt Elk Hunters

Elk can cover and avoid the eager hunter on public land, so it would be challenging for hunters to shoot elk even in the best weather and conditions. Tags usually are only available on a limited basis during each hunting season. Wind directionterrain, and physical conditioning for elk hunting are other factors affecting your hunting adventure. Finding a spot to suit you makes your Roosevelt elk hunting trip unforgettable, and harvesting your hunting trophy is the memory of a lifetime! You can combine your elk hunting chances on Vancouver Island with deer or other big game animals.

Book Your Guided Elk Hunting Trip

Reasons to Hunt Elks on Vancouver Island

A mature bull can weigh over 500 km (1000 pounds), and a cow is about two-thirds that size. Roosevelt elk are the largest-­bodied elk subspecies in Canada, which you can find on Vancouver Island. Their meat is lean and high in protein. Unlike those elk found in any other areas of North America, Vancouver Island Roosevelt elk sports heavy, gnarled antlers, often crowned on top. As they are nocturnal animals, hunting them could be a challenge for the best hunters. Roosevelt elk are the second most challenging big game hunt in North America, after the Columbia black-­tailed deer.
Roosevelt elk are considered blue-listed species (according to the BC Government Ecosystems), which means they are of special concern, so wildlife officials closely manage them.

Vancouver Island Roosevelt Elk Hunting Highlights

• Your elk hunt adventure can be upgraded to include other big game and small game animals.
• Non-hunters are accepted and welcome with an additional price.
• They are prized for their meat and antlers.
• Although Roosevelt elk horns are massive, they tend to have slightly shorter points than the Rocky Mountain subspecies.
• Their meat is lean and high in protein.
• They are big animals, and you can expect to get so much meat from your harvest.
• Elk can be used for food, clothing, and decoration.

Where to Hunt Elks on Vancouver Island?

Roosevelt elk inhabit the dense, nutrient-rich coastal rainforests where the environments provide great cover for the elk. Their diet initially consists of sedges, grasses, and ferns, supplemented by browse from willows, elderberry, blueberries, cedar, and hemlock. The surplus of food enables them to reach the heaviest weights of all North American elk subspecies. As most of BC's Roosevelt elk are on Vancouver Island, chances for Roosevelt elk hunting are at its different areas. The Salmon River Valley in Sayward, Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, and Nanaimo are where you can find elk. But hunters should be aware of no hunting and no shooting areas of Vancouver Island. In the winter, elk are primarily found in open forests, grassy benchlands or floodplain marshes. From May to June, elk migrate to subalpine and alpine basins.

When to Hunt Elks on Vancouver Island?

The season opens annually on October 10, just after the main rut period, whether for rifle or archery elk hunting. Harem bulls continue to guard their herd or pull the hot cows to protected areas away from competing bulls.
Elk are nocturnal animals, which means they are active during the night, and it could be a problem for elk hunters. So, the best time of the day to shoot is early morning.
Elk hunting opening season is limited and strictly regulated by the Fish and Wildlife Department. This branch sets legislation, policies and procedures to manage fishing and hunting activities. So always consider the elk hunting opening season and plan for it in advance.

Protected Areas of Vancouver Island, Based on the BC Act

How to Track a Roosevelt Elk on Vancouver Island

Going hunting for elk during the archery season is recommended when vocal bulls can help point you in the right direction, and the thick cover allows you to get close. All are because of the heavy cover. By the way, the rifle works quite well too.
Start your adventure by researching. It needs to understand where to hunt when elks are not bugling and is hard to locate. Their bedding, feeding areas, and watering holes give you plenty of chances to set up between them and water or food sources. Knowing about elk water and food sources allows you to set up perfectly for hunts. Right guide outfitter helps you. About half of the bulls they take are usually on these sources.
Elk's ability to sense danger is almost always related to their nose. Their sense of sight and hearing is great, and their sense of smell is even better. Their scent keeps them safe, so considering the wind is of the utmost importance. It should be one of the main factors when hunting elk. Your best bet is to make sure to keep the wind in your face.
You may hear of Calling elk before. It is necessary to know when and how to use your calls to get the most success. It requires only three elk calls. The most famous elk call has to be the bugle. We use a simple locating bugle, an ugly-sounding challenge bugle and a simple cow call.

Elk Hunting Methods on Vancouver Island

Millions of people around the world enjoy hunting elk without a defined same way. There are several ways to experience this big game hunting sport. It's important to make sure that you take the most advantage of your hunting trip by learning about elk hunting methods.

Rifle Hunting

A heavy bullet in a .300 to .375 calibre rifle is recommended. Rifle hunters should be able to make shots consistently from 30 yards (27 m) out to 350 yards (320 m). As tracking elk is not easy, the sooner you put them on the ground, the better. Too often, hunters will make a single shot and then watch the elk. Elk are big animals, and sometimes it requires multiple shots to bring them down. By the way, rifle hunting is considered an easier way of hunting than hunting by a bow.

Spot and Stalk Hunting

Most of the hunters prefer tracking their game instead of waiting for the game to draw to them. Spotting and stalking elk is usually known as the most successful method. It needs experienced hunters to identify animal tracks and signs if there has been an animal recently. A skilled tracker can almost guarantee the sighting of the game. The spotting would be a guess through wind, terrain, your hearing. Elks are so vocal in the early fall that spotting can be done with the ears.
After spotting elk, the process of stalking can be very productive. The best elk hunting guides typically combine stalking with calling. Consider the elk you heard is closer than you think. Also, it might move away from you when you begin the process of stalking the elk for a shot. Assume that you're making elk sounds yourself. So, the elk you heard might be moving toward you or away. It depends on what you just told them and what their attitude and situation are.

Bow Hunting

Archery hunting is also permitted for elk on Vancouver Island. Bowhunting (or bow hunting) allows bagging several animals since it is quieter and doesn't make other animals run away; also, it is a proper choice for big species like elk. A hunter with archery or other short-range gear may hunt elk from a ground blind or tree stand, usually over a waterhole or food source.

Hunting from a Blind

Some ways of hunting from a blind like blinds treestand or ground blind can be available on request for big game such as Roosevelt elk. Guides try to keep very close contact with you while you are in the stand.

Elk Hunting Regulations on Vancouver Island

Regulations for BC Elk Hunts | Region 1

Vancouver Island Elk Hunting Cost

Vancouver Island elk hunting may vary in price depending on duration, hunting methods, licence, tags, services, guide, and tax. It has to be mentioned that Roosevelt elk hunts are slightly more expensive rather than most other elk hunts. The elk hunt prices usually are offered for $8,500 to $10,000. Your elk hunting trip may be combined with other big game or small game animals.

Choose Among the Best Guide Outfitters for Elk Hunting in BC

According to British Columbia Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis, non-resident and non-resident alien hunters are required to be accompanied by a guide outfitter, assistant guide outfitter or a holder of a permit to accompany at all times when hunting big game, regardless of the type of licence (restricted or unrestricted) they have.
To experience a successful hunting tour:
1- Plan for it in advance.
2- Choose the areas where you intend to hunt for your trophy elk hunts.
3- Apply for and obtain the necessary licence.
4- Select the right outfitter.
An outfitted hunting trip is not only for unskilled hunters. Hiring a professional outfitter or guide provides a truly world-class hunt. It helps you access the best areas for hunting on Vancouver Island and new vistas of outdoor adventure.

Vancouver Island Elk Hunting Safety Tips

• In the late spring/early summer, which is calving season, cow elk are extremely protective of their newborn calves.
• When it is the mating season in September and October, bull elk aggressively protect their harem towards other bulls and different intruders, such as people.
• If you see an elk calf, the mother is probably very close, so be careful about that.
• Signs that an elk is anxious and angry include: sending its ears backward/ grinding its teeth/ curling its lips and elevating the hair on its rump.
• When it is the mating season in September and October, bull elk aggressively protect their harem towards other bulls and different intruders, such as people.

Customize Your Hunting Trip on Vancouver Island


Bear
Cougar
Deer
Elk
Wolf
Duck & Goose
Grouse
Pheasant
Snowshoe Hare
Raccoon
Band-tailed pigeon

Vancouver Island Elk Hunting Common Questions and Answers

Generally, there are two subspecies in BC, but just Roosevelt elk live on Vancouver Island.
Roosevelt elk are indigenous to Vancouver Island and are the purest strain left in North America.
Almost 3,200 Roosevelt elk exist in BC, and its number on Vancouver Island is about 3,000.
The Roosevelt elk is the largest subspecies of elk.
Roosevelt elk are considered threatened species, and there are about 3,200 of them left in British Columbia. Based on Conservation Status Ranks of the BC Government, they are assigned to the blue-listed species.
The Salmon River Valley, Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, and Nanaimo are among the places you can hunt Roosevelt elk.
Yes. You can often hear Roosevelt elk's bugle during the rut, from mid-September to mid-October or even November. Still, bugling will often bring Roosevelt elk to you.
A mature bull can weigh over 500 km (1000 pounds), and a cow about two-thirds that size.
Their diet consists of sedges, grasses, and ferns, supplemented by browse from willows, elderberry, blueberries, cedar, and hemlock.
The elk rut begins in early fall.
Spot and stalk on Vancouver Island for elk hunting is a preferred hunting method and an exciting opportunity.
Vancouver Island elk hunting may vary in price depending on duration, hunting methods, licence, tags, services, guide, and tax. But the price starts at 1,000$.
Hiking boots, waterproof pants and jacket, socks, hunting pants, short-sleeve shirt, long-sleeve shirt, gloves, hat, layer clothing
Clothes, camping items, rifle or archery equipment, heavy grain ammunition, binoculars, duffle bags and snacks are useful gears for your elk hunting packing list.

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