The snow was fresh, so any elk sign would be fresh also. After a long, arduous climb in the dark we found fresh elk sign in the form of tracks.
I like fresh snow in an area that I already know holds elk. The two sets of elk tracks were ambling along from side to side, back and forth.
On the same cold morning, loose, moist pellets are fresh.
You can see that it was walking through clover, a nutrient rich elk food.The next photo is of tracks made seconds earlier by a spike bull (I watched him make them, then snapped a photo). Elk nearly or completely step in their front tracks with their back hooves when walking slowly.These are not fast set rules, but true more often than not.When elk have spent considerable time feeding on tender green stuff in a wet area, their poop will be ploppy, more like cattle pies, but smaller with circular flat disks.If they are still steaming in the cold morning air, they’re close by!
Bulls will often, but not always leave their droppings in one neat pile.They were slowly feeding as they moved deliberately down the shaded side of the valley. If the poop leaves a stain on your fingers, it’s fresh!There they would find thicker timber to bed down for the day. A fresh pellet will also often stick to your finger with just a little pressure.This spike's track pattern, with the left rear hoof track not quite on the left front track and the right rear almost exactly in the right front, repeated itself with each step.I watched a big bull elk make tracks a few minutes later but, sorry, I suddenly became too busy to take pictures!Along with the tracks more elk sign appeared here and there. If you hunt with a partner, you can always wipe your hands on his shoulder. After all, you touched it to give him a freshness report.