Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Elk are amazing animals, but they are very large and need a ton of food. To find this food, they will often travel several miles to find the best possible food source that they can. This can sometimes lead them to clover fields, which begs the question: do elk like clover?
Elk love to eat clover any chance they get. These animals will seek out clover and other crops to get an easy and nutritious meal in the areas where they reside. Out of all of the different plants, shrubs, and crops that elk like to eat, clover is easily one of their favorites.
If you can understand the stomach of an elk, you can start to hunt them better and increase your odds of filling your next elk tag. Finding a consistent food source that the elk are using, such as a large field of clover, can be a great way to hunt. Continue reading to learn how to use clover and other food sources to help you out on that next elk hunt!
In this post, we'll cover:
Normal Elk Diet and Feed
Although elk love to eat crops that they can easily find in farm fields, their main diet consists of a variety of different plants and shrubs. Because of their large body size, they need to eat a large amount of food (several pounds) in order to survive. As elk move from one area to another, they will eat and browse any kind of twigs, grass, leaves, or tree bark that they come across.
The natural diet of an elk is made up of all of the different plants that are found in their environment. That being said, elk will often travel for many miles if it means that they can come down into an agricultural field in order to eat various crops. Elk will seek out things such as
and, of course, clover. Large groups of elk can often be seen out in fields of clover, even if there is plenty of natural feed for them in the surrounding area.
Can You Use Clover to Hunt Elk?
Although elk love to eat clover, you must be careful if you intend to hunt them around a field of clover. In many areas, baiting elk is illegal. But this will not stop herds of elk from being attracted to big farm fields where clover is being grown. If you have a nearby field that is full of clover and that the elk are drawn to, you can use this to your advantage to find and effectively hunt elk.
For most areas, as soon as a farm field is cut and harvested, it cannot be used to attract elk and hunt over. The main difference here is that once a crop is harvested and cut, it can be transported. This is where all states will draw the line and prohibit plants (such as clover) from being moved and used as bait sources. As it is being grown, however, it can be hunted over since the crop is being grown for “agricultural” purposes.
How to Hunt Elk with Clover
So if you have a nearby field of clover and have permission to hunt near or on it, where do you get started? Getting permission from the landowner to hunt on or near a field of clover is the hard part. If the elk are regularly visiting a field of clover to feed, you know where they are eventually going to be and can formulate a plan to ambush them as they enter or leave the area.
In order to best do this, your best bet is to try setting up on the outside of an open clover field where there will be more cover. Because clover does not grow very high, you don’t want to be out in the field where they can easily see you. Instead, try waiting on the outskirts in the brush or near fences to break up your outline. Elk will usually feed during the night, so it is also easier to catch them traveling out of the field during the morning hours and heading towards a field late in the day.
Whether you decide to hunt with a high-powered rifle or archery equipment, do your best to find the best possible spot to set up near the clover field. Always be aware of surrounding livestock, private property, and nearby buildings when shooting and hunting. Also, try to be to your ambush spot well before you think the elk will be traveling through to or from the clover, as you never know when exactly they will be showing up.
States That Allow Baiting for Elk
If you don’t happen to live near fields of clover, you can still use cut clover to bait elk in some particular areas. As of right now, there are only two states where elk reside naturally that allow baiting. These two states are Oregon and Washington. You can view the state rules and regulations for each state on their websites, which can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for Washington and https://www.dfw.state.or.us/ for Oregon.
Other areas where elk reside as non-native animals, such as the state of Texas, do not have very many rules or regulations regarding baiting for elk. Because the animals are considered non-native to the state, they are regulated differently. You can bait in many of these types of areas, and clover can be a great option.
Although elk love to eat a wide variety of different foods, clover tends to be one of their favorites. If you find yourself with a big field of clover in your elk hunting area, you can easily use this to your advantage to better find and hunt elk to fill your next tag! Just remember to hunt safely and do your homework before the hunting season.
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 channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.