E-Scouting For Elk With Google Earth – How To Find More Elk

By Charles •  9 min read
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Why should you be worried about learning about E-scouting for elk with Google Earth?  The simple answer is – to find more elk during your elk hunting trip.  For many of us, it is extremely hard to find the time to get boots on the ground to scout hunting areas for elk. This is especially true for all of you nonresident elk hunters out there.  In addition, spending two or three of your precious hunting days can be a waste of time.  Time you could use to be actually hunting.

Table of Contents

E-Scouting for Elk With Google Earth Is Your Answer

E-Scouting for Elk is a way to scout from the comfort of your home well ahead of the start of the hunting season. That way, when the season finally begins, you’re prepared to get out and hunt much quicker.  With the help of Google Earth’s free technology you can now scout for elk from your computer.

How Can Google Earth Help You

Google Earth is a popular and free program that every hunter should be using.  Google Earth allows you to explore any area where there are elk, in 3D, using satellite imagery. 

How To Mark Locations On Google Earth

Marking your locations is fairly simple once you understand how to get it done. 

Example:  How To Add A Placemark On A Water Hole

Adding a place mark for a water hole
How to Open a Placemark While E-Scouting For Elk in Google Earth
How to change a placemark name
How to Change Placemark Name While E-Scouting for Elk in Google Earth
Possible Water Hole Placemark
Renamed Placemark When E-Scouting for Elk With Google Earth

E-Scouting for Elk Can Help You Close In On Your New Elk Hunting Location

Going on elk hunt can be one of the best experiences any hunter can have.  Provided of course you know where to look for them.  Using Google Earth for E-Scouting for Elk will allow you to take a whole unit, which could be hundreds of square miles, and break it down into smaller areas that you can focus your attention toward. 

This is accomplished by looking for the things that elk will need most during the season you will be hunting.  Basically, you are going to take your time and study the imagery in an attempt to find the things that elk will need most during the time of year you will be hunting them.  You will be looking for sanctuary, water, food, and bedding areas the elk may be using on a daily basis.

Finding Sanctuary

The first thing you need to look for is a sanctuary area.  This will allow you to eliminate many areas were elk are not.  Elk, by nature, like to stay away from any places frequented or inhabited by humans.

Once you have eliminated these areas, you can spend your time looking for the other necessities the elk are looking to find.

Example:  How To Create a 1 Mile Buffer Zone Around a Road

E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Marking a Buffer Zone
Using the Ruler Function – E-Scouting for Elk
Choosing Units for Measurement
Changing the Units – E-Scouting for Elk
E-Scouting For Elk With Google Earth - How to use google earth ruler function
Create the One Mile Distance Line – E-Scouting for Elk
E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Drawing a Buffer Zone
Draw a Path 1 Mile From the Road – E-Scouting for Elk
E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Marking a Buffer Zone 2
Draw a Path 1 Mile On the Other Side of the Road – E-Scouting for Elk

Finding Water Sources

Water is essential for elk since they need to drink water on a daily basis.  Use this basic fact to your advantage by searching for and marking water sources on the map. 

Finding Food Sources

Food is the next element on your list. Understanding the eating habits of elk is important to find the right spots.  This is because elk eat primarily during the early morning and late evening hours.  Once you have these areas located you will be able to set up at a glassing location and glass these feeding areas.  This will be your best chance of finding elk during most times of the year.

Finding Bedding Areas While E-Scouting for Elk

When hunting elk, remember that elk retreat to cover areas during midday to bed. Many times it is also where a startled herd would flee to, so identifying them is just as important as locating water sources. 

Putting These Elements Together While E-Scouting For Elk

Once you have all your areas covered, mapped out, and marked, it’s time to save all your waypoints and send them to your GPS unit. These are the actual points that will guide you on your first actual boots on the ground trip to the area. They make all the hours you put poring over Google Earth worthwhile.  However, if you don’t have a GPS, you can still use those waypoints. Simply print them off Google Earth and take the printed maps with you. You may need to print out more than one map for each area just to have high-quality pictures. Bear in mind that the printed maps don’t have coordinates and won’t be as accurate as GPS. Still having them with you will guide you around and increase your chances of harvesting an elk.

Example:  A New Area To Check Out When Done E-Scouting For Elk With Google Earth

When you put all of these elements together you will have one spot ready to check out when hunting season starts.  However, you should find several of these areas.  If the first spot does not work out during hunting season, you move to the next.  Just keep going down your list until you find the elk.

  1. An Area Showing Ridges Running Roughly East To West
E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - North and South Facing Slopes

2. After Dropping A Placemark Drag It To The Location You Want It

E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Adding a placemark for a feeding area

3. Rename the Placemark

E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Rename a feeding placemark

4. Add a Second Feeding Area

E-Scouting for Elk with google earth second feeding placemark

5. Add a Bedding Area

E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Choosing a bedding area

6. After Adding a Placemark Showing The River and a Closed Road That Provides Access , You Have Your First Spot

E-Scouting for Elk with Google Earth - Possible Water Hole Placemark

 For more information about scouting for elk on location see our article “Scouting for Elk with Boots on the Ground”.

*Featured Photo by Nicholas Koenig on Unsplash


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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