Do Elk Like Barley? 🌾

Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and OutdoorsmanOpens in a new tab..

Elk love a free meal and will often travel several miles to find the most nutritional and accessible food that they can find. This often leads them to nearby agricultural fields and farms where they can eat crops. So do elk like barley? 

Elk love to eat barley and other crops when they can find them. It is not uncommon to see large herds of elk gathered together in fields of barley in the areas that they call home. Of all of the various crops that elk eat, barley tends to be one of their favorites. 

Do Elk Like Barley

If you are headed out on an elk hunt and want to ensure that you find some animals, it might be a good idea to look for any local fields that are growing barley. Finding a major food source, such as a field of barley, can lead to a much higher rate of success when on a hunt. Continue reading to learn how to use an elk’s love of barley to your advantage on your next adventure. 

What Do Elk Regularly Eat?

Elk are large herbivores, so they need to eat plenty of different plants and shrubs every day. As they move, they will casually browse any nearby twigs, leaves, grasses, or even mushrooms when they can find them. Due to their large size and stomachs, a single elk needs several pounds of food every day in order to survive. 

Although elk can survive on all of these natural resources, they love to move into agricultural fields when they can and munch on crops that are much more plentiful and easier to find. This includes things like peas, barley, alfalfa, and corn. It is not uncommon to see large herds of elk out in these fields and continue to feed on the plants throughout the different stages of growth and harvest. 

Using Barley to Hunt Elk

Baiting elk in many places is illegal and cannot be done, but that doesn’t stop elk from being attracted to agricultural fields where barley is being grown. Because of this, you can use barley to your advantage. If elk are regularly moving into a field of barley to feed, it is much easier to ambush them and potentially get a shot opportunity during hunting season. 

It is important to note that barley cannot be used to attract elk once it is cut and harvested in most places. Again, it is illegal to bait elk in most states, but this is only for external bait that is moved from one place to another. If a plant such as barley is being grown for agricultural purposes, it is not considered baiting, and it is legal to use in hunting situations. 

How to Hunt Elk with Barley

In order to hunt elk with barley, you will first need to locate a field that the elk are regularly visiting. You must also ensure that you obtain permission to hunt near and on the field from the landowner. With these two things acquired, you can make a plan to ambush the elk as they travel to and from the field during feeding hours. 

To do this, try setting up outside of the open field of barley, where you will have some cover to hide behind. You can then attempt to ambush the elk as they come and go from the field that they are using as a food source. Because elk will typically feed during the night, your best bet is to catch them traveling out of the field in the morning or heading to the field in the afternoon. 

No matter if you are using a rifle or bow and arrow, setting up outside of a field of barley will allow you to stay hidden and avoid any potential problems with livestock, property boundaries, or shooting near buildings.

The number one concern should be the safety involved when hunting around a field that the elk are using as a food source. Take your time and do some homework to find the best travel routes around barley and set up in the best possible spot. 

Laws Regarding Barley and Elk Hunting

In most states, the use of bait is illegal when it comes to elk hunting. There are many laws that prohibit any use of food or other substances to attract and take elk, including crops such as barley. But, when grown in a field for other purposes, you can use the field of barley to your advantage, all while staying inside the circle of legality.

There are very few laws regarding elk hunting around agricultural fields as long as you abide by all other hunting laws. 

When barley is grown for agricultural purposes, it is not considered to be bait for elk. And, when you hunt outside of the field, such as around travel corridors to and from the barley, you can avoid any legal issues and stay within the laws of the state that you are hunting.

Although elk are almost always attracted to barley wherever it is grown, you should take your time to do any homework regarding specific laws in the state that you are hunting. 

One of the few times that barley could be considered bait is if it has already been cut, processed, and moved. This can be considered hunting over bait since work has to be done to get the barley to that specific location. If barley is being grown in a field, however, you are generally good to go when it comes to hunting near or around the agricultural field. 

Final Thoughts

Elk are very large animals that require a lot of food every single day. An easy way for them to obtain this food is to find large fields of crops such as barley that fulfill their dietary needs. If you happen to have barley in your elk hunting area, you are sure to find plenty of elk nearby. 

Steven Lines hunter pic 1

Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since he was a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of outdoor experience. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channelOpens in a new tab. dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.


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Hi, I'm Sam! I used to work as a caregiver, and now I'm in medical school. My blog is about helping people get healthier through fun activities like archery, hunting, and powerlifting. If you like one of my articles, please share it with your friends and family so they can be healthy too!

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