Location: From Grand Junction CO, stationed in Arizona
Yes they do.
Here is a link to a video I took after this bull busted us. He started barking at us but wasn’t sure what was there, he could hear our cow calls but couldn’t see any other elk. After he had enough he dissapeared over the top of the ridge.
A bark is a warning sound all bulls and cows make. It means something has startled them or they saw you but not sure what you are. The plus side is they didn't smell you or they would have just ran off to the next zip code. I have called back dozens of elk after busting them or running into them on the trail. Last year a bull busted us on the trail. The bull was standing in the trail watching us at 50 yds when we realized he was there. He took off and I imidiately barked at him and he stopped a few hundred yards away. I barked 4 or 5 times and he returned a bark. We barked at each other for over 30 min while my partner snuck up for a shot while I kept him busy. He missed his shot, but I continued to bark at him and a few minutes later I was able to get a shot at him also. 2 years ago I called in a small 5x5 for a friend and he missed the bull at 15 yds and the bull tore up a 1/2 acre running out of there. Once again I barked right away and the bull stopped a few hundred yards away. I was not sure if he had stopped, but I continued to bark. anyway. A few minutes later he answered me with a bark. We exchanged barks for 15 minutes until he came to within 12 yds of me and 40 yds from my friend. He was able to connect on his 2nd shot and harvested his very 1st elk. I shot my bull the previous day, so I was trying my best to help my friends. I have called back cow elk the same way. I only use diaphram calls and barks are easy to learn. It is just a extreme chirp with a hard grunt thru your grunt tube. If you do it right the ground shakes. I only hunt the archery season, and have been so for over 30 years.
It's more of a "what are you" than a bark. From my experience they will bark if they know you are there but don't know what you are. I have had cows at 25 yards barking and scratching the ground trying to figure out what I was. I never moved and they lost interest and quickly moved on.
Now if i only had a Elk tag and not a Deer tag.....
Let me start by telling you the story of two Johns.
John number one went on a day hike with a couple of friends in the Cascade Mountains about an hour from Seattle. He somehow got separated from his buddies and became lost. John was dressed in casual cloths for a warm weather day hike and had nothing but a lunch with him. He spent three days in those mountains and luckily made it out to tell the story.
John number two, a friend of John number one, was much better prepared when...