a Bull elk bugling with cow elk around him.

9 Elk Hunting Books You Need in Your Collection

The thrill of chasing elk is a call that allures thousands of hunters to the high country of the Rockies each year. For many such hunters, bagging any of the four North American elk species is a lifetime accomplishment. With a range stretching from the Pacific coast to pocketed regions in eastern Ontario, there’s an elk hunt adventure waiting for any hunter! With vast options and many tactics to master, planning an elk hunt can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are dozens of excellent elk hunting books covering everything you need to know. In this article, we’ll be introducing nine of the best elk hunting books every hunter should own. Before introducing these riveting titles, let’s talk about the excitement of elk hunting itself!

The North American Elk

Before expansion, elk dominated North America, roaming freely coast to coast, and from Northern Alberta to Mexico. Most Native tribes honored and hunted elk. Mismanagement saw the species dwindle from a peak population of 10 million prior to colonialization to just 100,000 in the early 20th century. Today, the population hovers around the 1,000,000 mark.

North America is home to four elk species. Roosevelt elk, the largest species, roam the dense fern forests of the Pacific Northwest. The modest Tule deer abides further south in central California. Rocky Mountain elk roam the largest range, extending from the Canadian Rockies to New Mexico. They’re joined by their cousins to the east, the Manitoban elk, who actually inhabit Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and a small area of Ontario.

Getting Excited for Elk Hunting

Elk yields some of the best meat of any game animal. It is tender, lean, and above all, delicious. Hunters can craft delicious steaks, wonderful jerky, and world-class summer sausage from their elk harvest, which can provide enough meat to support an entire family upwards of a year or more. The joys don’t end there. After its meat is long gone, a bull elk provides an astounding trophy. The Rocky Mountain elk, with their magnificent antlers that can reach a weight of 40 pounds (18 kgs), add a touch of opulence to any trophy room.

Besides the tangible products of elk hunting, there are also intangible aspects. Elk of all species inhabit some of the most pristine country on the continent, with some of the premier locations including British Columbia, Colorado, and Idaho. These locations are beyond stunning in both their scenery and their demanding nature. Ancient peaks towering over tranquil river valleys, the delightful scent of secluded aspen groves, and the breathtaking sight of a sunrise reflecting off pristine glacial lakes are just some views you’ll inevitably encounter on an elk hunt. The thrill of the hunt and time spent with friends in camaraderie is the cherry on top.

If you’re ready for an unforgettable time, start planning an elk hunt! If you’re unsure where to start, or just want more inspiration, these nine elk hunting books should get you started.

1. Elk of North America: Ecology and Management by Jack Ward Thomas

Book cover of Elk of North America: Ecology and Management by Jack Ward Thomas.

Jack Ward Thomas’ masterpiece title is the most scientific book on this list. Thomas was a wildlife biologist who became the head of the US Forest Service in his later career. Few professionals can match Jack’s credentials, particularly in elk conservation and behavioral studies.

Elk of North America: Ecology and Management is one of the few species books that provides intimate insight into the scientific and historical behaviors of elk. Thomas combines years of experience as a scientist and an outdoorsman to provide a striking look at several of North America’s elk species. Hunters looking to expand their knowledge base and gather a better understanding of the majestic animal will find this book enlightening.

Though not one of the quintessential elk hunting books, this is a crucial read to grasp a full understanding of the creature. Thomas excels at intermixing data-driven information about elk while providing photos, stories, and histories about the majestic creature to keep the reading interesting. This title is essential for hunters seeking elk knowledge and its practical application.

2. Radical Elk Hunting Strategies by Mike Lapinski

Book cover of Radical Elk Hunting Strategies by Mike Lapinski.

Anyone who aspires to one day call in elk during the rut must read this book. Author Mike Lapinski is a world-renowned bow hunter and author, whose several elk hunting books have won many awards. This title, in particular, is an excellent starting point for hunters looking to improve the basics of their elk hunting skills.

Radical Elk Hunting Strategies: Secrets of Calling Elk in Close feels almost like cheating. It’s easy to read, fun to flip through, and extremely affordable. Lapinski combines all of his experience to create what he refers to as a “radical elk hunting strategy.” Throughout the book, he teaches how, when, and why to use this strategy, providing illustrations, photographs, and anecdotes that help the reader visualize the concepts in discussion. Both bow and rifle hunters will find the techniques and information within invaluable.

Lapinski organizes his strategies and theories systematically. This makes the book very digestible, even for young hunters who lack high-level comprehension. Hunters who want to improve their calling, stalking, and overall skills, especially in the rut, need to read this book.

3. High Pressure Elk Hunting by Mike Lapinski

Book cover of High Pressure Elk Hunting by Mike Lapinski

The second Lapinski entry on this list, this book is the follow-up to our previous selection, Radical Elk Hunting Strategies (see above). Because this book is an extension and update of the aforementioned title, readers should pick up this book after completing the previous one. This book does an excellent job of building on the foundations laid by its predecessor.

High Pressure Elk Hunting: Secrets of Hunting Educated Elk takes the basics of Lapinski’s “radical strategies” and expands them to encompass the modern adaptive behaviors of elk. As hunting practices and strategies evolve, so do elk adapt to combat such strategies. This book serves to bridge the gap between Lapinski’s older hunting methods and the additional difficulties and technologies more modern hunters are facing.

Lapinski organizes this book with several chapters dedicated to the improvement of and implementation of his methods in a modern environment, mixed with some basic elk hunting knowledge and skills chapters. Overall, it’s an affordable book that serves as a commendable sequel.

4. Solving Elk Hunting Problems by Mike Lapinski

Book cover of Solving Elk Hunting Problems by Mike Lapinski

The last Lapinski book on this list, this title wraps up his modernization of the “radical strategy.” Lapinski provides closure on some of the modern issues that arise within his strategies in this book and provides some new techniques for hunters who want to expand their repertoire even further.

Solving Elk Hunting Problems: Simple Solutions to the Elk Hunting Riddle is an excellent choice for those who have read the other two Lapinski titles featured on this list. Within this title, readers can expect to learn multiple new techniques for calling, stalking, and planning a hunt both during and after rut, which helps expand on previously learned and techniques from the other books in the series. Once again featuring photos and illustrations, it’s an easy read, and a much needed update for fans of Lapinski’s strategies.

Hunters of all age groups and experience levels are certain to find something new within the 15 chapters of this book, and readers following Lapinski’s strategies from his earlier publications will benefit from learning new, updated methods.

5. Elk Hunting Guide: Skills, Gear, and Insight by Tom Airhart

Book cover of Elk Hunting Guide: Skills, Gear, and Insight by Tom Airhart

Airhart’s book covers several essential topics for eastern and greenhorn hunters transitioning to western elk hunting. Within this book, Airhart discusses the nuances of western hunting, including strategies to stay safe in the peculiar terrain, tracking tips, and area-specific advice for popular units. This is a great read for transitional hunters and newbies.

Elk Hunting Guide: Skills, Gear, and Insight represents the totality of Airhart’s own experiences hunting elk. It’s almost a guarantee that his personal stories throughout will make the reader laugh more than a few times. Aside from being enjoyable, the book grants readers a glimpse at the harsh realities of elk hunting. Airhart stresses that excellent fitness, multiple backup plans, and above all else, judicious planning are hallmarks of a safe and successful hunt.

Western elk hunting is more physically, mentally, and financially demanding than many lifelong whitetail hunters from the east realize. It is also inherently more dangerous, volatile, and logistically taxing without proper guidance on the matter. Airhart establishes the crucial application of proper skills and techniques early and routinely in his book, which is why this is a must-have for hunters unfamiliar with western hunting or wanting to develop their western hunting skills further.

6. Elk Hunting the West the Eastman Way by Mike Eastman

Book cover of Elk Hunting the West the Eastman Way by Mike Eastman

An older, but still relevant and informative title, this elk hunting book has everything a hunter could want. Penned by legendary Western hunter Mike Eastman, this work contains everything from field dressing strategies to hunting tales of biblical proportions. It even comes with an instructional DVD! Any elk hunter should pick this book up.

Elk Hunting the West the Eastman Way is as entertaining as it is informative. Eastman includes sectional tips on topics of all sorts, including elk behavior, calling strategies, equipment recommendations, and how to find elk. One of the biggest selling points in this book is his section on locating public land hotspots, which is an area in planning that many hunters struggle with. To complement these tips and tricks, Eastman includes dozens of stories, photos, and data points that are sure to impress.

This book has stood the test of time since first publishing in 2003. Though some points may be slightly outdated, the pure volume of information and strategy alone is worth purchasing this book for. Not to mention Eastman’s creative, often witty, storytelling within.

7. Elk Hunting the West Revisited by Mike Eastman

Book cover of Elk Hunting the West Revisited by Mike Eastman

This book is the newer, updated addition to the teachings featured in Eastman’s other legendary elk hunting book, Elk Hunting the West the Eastman Way, featured above. Though it covers much of the same information as its older brother, the nature of hunting as it develops makes this a perfect choice for newer hunters who want to break into elk hunting, and older hunters who want to refine skills.

Elk Hunting the West Revisited released in 2015, twelve years after its predecessor, and revisited some of Eastman’s most critical theories and strategies in a way that complimented more modern techniques and structures. It contains new recommendations on hunting locations and even includes an entire section on specific trophy units hunters should pursue. Leveraging new technology and data to create successful hunts is the forefront of this revision, and Eastman again portrays these points through wonderful analogies.

All hunters will benefit from picking up a copy of this title, especially if they’re particularly invested in Eastman’s other works. The portrayal of a fun, modern approach to elk hunting preserves traditional skills with new, easy-to-learn techniques. Overall, it’s one of the better elk hunting books available for the modern reader.

8. Bowhunting Modern Elk by Patrick Meitin

Book cover of Bowhunting Modern Elk by Patrick Meitin

Patrick Meitin has served as an outdoor photographer, writer, and guide for several decades. This book is a culmination of both his learnings and teachings throughout his career. While the book contains many strategies and concepts designed for bow hunters, rifle hunters will still find it just as useful.

Bowhunting Modern Elk contains so much excellent information within, it’s difficult to identify exactly what it does best. Meitin meticulously describes all his best advice in great detail in the pages of this title. Greenhorns will find his advice easy to grasp and his stories enjoyable to read. Seasoned hunters will find the information well-informed and intelligent. Like several other elk hunting books on this list, this one contains expert advice on hunting techniques and strategies that many readers will want to try themselves. It is an excellent piece for anyone who wants to learn the ropes of western elk hunting, or enhance their skills.

If you can only afford or accommodate one book as a greenhorn, this might be your best choice. Although it has something for everyone, the more basic strategies that Meitin highlights within are better suited to DIY starters or long-time hunters trying to break into elk hunting.

9. Public Land Elk Hunting by Matthew Dworak

Book cover of Public Land Elk Hunting by Matthew Dworak

Matthew Dworak, a Colorado native and lifelong archery hunter, is a legend in his own right. This stellar publication highlights his years of hunting and bow experience. Dworak’s expertise makes this book essential for mastering elk hunting skills, especially on public land. This title is suitable for hunters of all ages, experience levels, and locations.

Public Land Elk Hunting is one of the highest rated, reviewed, and recommended books on this list. Once you have a copy, the reasons will become clear. While it’s nigh impossible to cover every single detail of a successful hunt, this book gets extremely close to accomplishing just that. Dworak walks readers through the basics of elk hunting: calling, stalking, and picking a suitable location; but he also provides detailed descriptions on how to leverage particular skills to apply these basics more effectively when hunting. Even seasoned elk hunters are certain to find something useful through his descriptions.

Dworak then details in great depth strategies for understanding public land hunting like pressure avoidance, locating high-yield units, and understanding migratory patterns. He also includes several excellent insights on preference points, optimizing land usage, and many other practical hurdles that new elk hunters struggle to navigate.

The prose and descriptive language used by Dworak in this book keeps the reader engaged, which makes the learning process delightful throughout. This legendary elk hunting book punches well above its weight and is one of the best choices hunters of all experience should pick up.


The Western elk hunt is a bucket list item for many hunters. Despite this, the hunt itself can feel so overwhelming and distant that it becomes easy to lose sight of the excitement of the idea. To combat this, hunters must often turn to distractions or inspirations that occupy time until things smooth out. These nine elk hunting books serve well as both inspiration and education on the topic of these mighty beasts.

Whether you’re planning your dream hunt, just looking to get motivated, or want to develop your pre-existing skills and knowledge further, at least one of these riveting titles is sure to fit the bill. Remember, the foundation of any good hunt begins with positive mindsets and well-made plans, long before boots ever hit dirt. The skills learned through reading, researching, and reflecting now will pay dividends later when you’re leveraging the skills and knowledge you learned to stalk a trophy bull high in the Rockies. Until then, happy hunting!

If you’d like to further expand your hunting library, check out our list of 10 Must Read Sheep Hunting Books.