The above Spike Elk was harvested with the rifle and gear listed on this page. He was taken in 2016 on public land in Utah during the over the counter spike hunt.
Selecting the proper survival load out for the time of year and terrain you will be in can be a difficult task. There are many factors that go into what you carry. For example, weight, quality of gear and appropriate gear for the situation.
Elk hunting can be very physically demanding so it's my opinion that you first need to get into excellent shape, because the last thing you want to do, is leave things in camp because they are too difficult to carry. The reason I say that, is, the best thing you can do is stay in the field all day, and you'll need a lot of food and water and equipment to make that happen.
Here is a list of must have equipment that everyone should carry on their person. I am not referring to a survival kit, I am saying you should carry this stuff attached to you or in your pockets at all times. Yes you should ALSO, have a survival kit.
Carry on your person at all times:
1. Fenix hl50r head lamp.
2. High muzzle energy pistol. Spare Ammunition.
4. Appropriate Hat.
5. Compass. (Military Lensatic compass with tritium)
7. Good boots.
8. 3 Liters of water.
11. Pocket Knife.
13. Water purification device.
16. Cell Phone.
17. Ear Plugs.
18. Eye wear.
20. Adventure Medical kit Trauma Pack (QuikClot Sponge).
21. Tourniquet (Recon Medical Military Issue One Handed).
22. Howard Leight Ear Plugs
23. Safety glasses.
24. Hunter orange.
Other Important Items:
1. Smoke in a bottle (wind direction detection)
3. Laser Range Finder
4. Scent Killer
5. Field Regulations
6. Freeze Dried Food
.300 Winchester Magnum
I am going to seem a little bias here when I say this, but I think the .300 Win Mag is the best Elk Hunting cartridge. If you find a good rifle to shoot it in, then you found a superb system. Please allow me to explain why I say the .300 Winchester magnum is the best for elk.
The main reason I sway toward the .300 Win Mag, is the long range effectiveness in that this cartridge and rifle has a great ballistic co efficient and has enough energy to drop elk at long distances. Something I have noticed while elk hunting is that it's very common to be 500 yards from the elk when they detect you. If you want a better chance of harvesting an elk, it's a good idea to be capable of shooting out to 550 yards while also still having the energy to drop them in their tracks. The .300 Win Mag rifle can penetrate 3/4 inch steel. It kicks like a mule but knocks the socks off any big game animal even at a distance. I like that I can push it out to 400 yards with such ease that I have no doubts in it's performance like I would say a .270 Win. Don't get me wrong I took my buck with a .270 Winchester this year, but I don't think the .270 Winchester will deliver the shock necessary to drop an elk at 500 yards or farther.
Plus or minus a few foot pounds the .300 Winchester Magnum has the same energy at 1000 yards, that a .44 Magnum has point blank.
I also like the mainstream availability of ammo loaded for .300 Win Mag.
The rifle in the picture is a Remington 700 Sendero I obtained in the 90's and it shoots better than 1MOA to say the least. If you shoot the right ammo and you are having a good day, this rifle will put them in the same hole at 100 yards. I admit, I am not the best shot in the world especially with the kick this thing produces so I do sometimes slap the trigger and can start getting sloppy, I tend to shoot 1" groups to as bad as 2" groups if I really slap the trigger bad but the rifle itself will do sub MOA. it comforts me realizing at least my rifle can do the job. To remedy the kick I added a limb saver.
My suggestions when it comes to the Rifle chambered in .300 Win Mag are to use a limb saver. The last weekend before I added the limb saver I shot this rifle with some very powerful ammo loaded to take down buffalo and I could only get 15 shots out of it before I literally couldn't shoot it anymore because of the powerful kick. I have since put the limb saver on.
The Good news is that if you really concentrate and put that round down range you will definitely hit your target with enough energy to vaporize an elks heart and lungs and crush any bone or meat in the way with impunity.
A couple tips regarding using a blued rifle is make sure you take some oil with you on the hunt and a cleaning rod. Those rifles will rust if you don't take care to wipe it down. Use one of those limb savers, add a hunters sling, a scope shade device, maybe a bi-pod and put some spare ammo in one of those elastic ammo holders that attaches to the stock. There are plenty of times when I grab my rifle and run, and it's nice knowing I have 9 rounds attached to it.
I don't want to sound like I wouldn't use a .270 or .308 Win, I just feel better when I am on an elk hunt with the .300 Winchester, I don't mind .270 for Deer, but I know how tough elk can be. We are talking about 700 pounds of wild animal. I have seen them absorb a lot of bullets and keep going, so I don't prefer much less than a .300 Win Mag.
Limb Saver, Spare Ammo Holder, Sling, Bi-pod, shade cover for scope. The accessories I have mentioned here, I personally believe are most useful. I might take the bi-pod off in the field but the rest of those items I consider must have. Even that shade cover has improved the rifle's capabilities. It looks a little crooked in the picture, because I recently took it off for cleaning and didn't straighten it yet, but this one is made of some kind of like neoprene or something, but it doesn't impede the scope functionality. Another trick I use is, I put a ballistic chart under the spare ammo holder much like a quarter back puts plays under his wrist guard. The scope on here happens to have it's own bullet drop compensation built in but I still like the ballistic chart. This scope is built to be zero'd at 200 yards and is quick to adjust for BDC up to 500 yards. It's an old school Burris scope no longer made but was great in it's day. I personally don't believe in shooting more far than 500 yards because I want to humanely kill the animal to the best of my ability and I know how much can go wrong after 400 yards.
It's good to zero an elk rifle at 200 yards because you want to be able to aim right on out to about 300 yards and not worry about bullet drop compensation.
You should have a good set of binoculars and a nice spotting scope if you want to get serious about hunting. I would suggest good brands like Vortex and Nikon. I am not sure if you really need to pay the highest prices, I lean toward middle price ranges.
I don't want to spend too much time on this subject other than to say, this is very important.
What to carry in your backpack:
It's often neglected to think about what you will need once you are successful as an Elk hunter.
I carry game bags, rope, gutting or skinning and game processing knife, extra water, snacks, material to attach your tags with and an over all survival load out. The last thing I want to do is go back to camp for lunch, I would suggest you get some freeze dried food for your backpack.
You also need equipment that will help you stay comfortable if you get any weather.