Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Elk will eat just about any kind of plant that they can find and easily get to. It is not uncommon to see large herds of elk, sometimes even hundreds of animals, out in a field of crops because it is a quick, easy, and nutritious meal for them. But among all of the crops that elk can eat, many hunters wonder if they will eat everything. For example, do elk like peas?
Elk do like to eat peas, among other types of crops as well. Elk are herbivores and need several pounds of food a day to survive, so a field of peas can provide the animals with a quick and easy meal. In addition to peas, elk will seek out and eat in fields of alfalfa, oats, and canola.
So if you are wondering, the answer is yes: you can use peas and other plants to help you better hunt elk. Let’s get into the ins and outs of elk diets, what they prefer to eat, how peas play into the equation, and how you can have a better elk season by using peas and other plants to your advantage.
What Do Elk Usually Eat?
While in the wild, elk will seek out and feed on a wide variety of vegetation, such as grasses, twigs, forbs, leaves, and mushrooms. The actual food that the elk eat will largely depend on the time of year, location, and elevation. For example, during the spring and summer months, the elk will primarily want to feed on things like grass, shrubs, and forbs. But during the fall and colder months, elk will start to change their diets to include hardier things such as twigs, leaves, and berries.
But while elk love their natural foods, they will often travel for many miles to seek out agricultural fields where food is not only easier to find but it is much more plentiful. This includes things like corn, clover, canola, alfalfa, and of course, peas. If you live near any type of farm where elk also live, it is not uncommon to see many of them out in the fields feeding during the morning or afternoon hours.
Another benefit to the crops is that many of them can be eaten by the elk during multiple stages of growth and harvest. This provides a much more consistent food source for the elk, and they learn that they have a free and easy meal whenever they like as long as they come down into the fields. Peas are one of these crops that elk will regularly visit if it is growing in their area.
Can You Bait for Elk with Peas?
The short answer to this question is no. In most states, it is illegal to bait elk with any type of substance or food. In fact, of all of the western states where elk are considered “native” wildlife, there are only two states that allow you to bait: Oregon and Washington. State rules and regulations are always subject to change, however, and you need to have the most up-to-date information before attempting to bait elk.
In order to confirm the regulations on baiting elk in these two states, you can visit their websites. Oregon’s game and fish department can be found at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/, while Washington’s state agency can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/. This can and will change, so do a little homework before your elk hunt to see if it is legal to hunt with bait in your state or area where you will be.
Can You Hunt Near Fields of Peas?
While baiting for elk is illegal in most places, there is a slightly gray area when it comes to hunting around fields where crops are being grown. As long as you have permission to hunt the surrounding area and have a legal tag, it is sometimes legal to use the field to hunt near as the elk come and go from the area. Again, consult the local and state hunting regulations to confirm this before you begin to hunt near a field that is growing peas or other crops.
If you intend to hunt near a field of peas, it is important that you find just the right spot to set up and ambush the elk as they enter or leave the area on their travels to the peas. Setting up outside of the actual crops will allow you to find better places to hide and wait, as well as potentially set up a ground blind or treestand to your benefit as well.
Setting up outside of the fields of peas will also keep you out of trouble when it comes to legality or private property issues. Unless you have permission to hunt on a specific property, make sure you are staying on public property or on the private land that you do have permission to hunt. Elk will typically head to crops and fields to feed during the night, so they will be traveling to them during the afternoons and out of them to their bedding areas during the mornings.
Depending on where you are hunting, you can set up an ideal ambush point for your rifle or bow when the elk are in this travel corridor. Just remember to have your maps ready and know all of the corresponding rules and regulations on your hunt. For a quick and easy reference for any state, you can use a website such as https://www.eregulations.com/ to look up specific rules.
No matter where you are hunting, elk love to find crops to feed on. If you are able to take advantage of them, you can use them to increase your odds of filling your tag and coming home with some delicious elk meat. So if you find yourself around some fields that are growing peas, pay attention to what the elk are doing.
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.