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jim boyd's picture
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Elk Hunting - Calling for Elk

First of all, let me say that I am NOT a fan of hunting shows.

For the most part, I think they are all BS.

I did watch one last night - it was about September elk bow hunting and the main thrust of the show was listening for bulls calling, then setting up downwind of them and calling them into range... with a heavy emphasis on actually using a bugle call to lure the elk to you.

Is this the case in reality?

Are they THAT susceptible to calls?

I thought a large part of elk in September was finding a bull at longer ranges and then tring to stalk in for a shot - by attempting to predict which way he is going to travel as you are setting up.

Did I watch another BS show or is that accurate???

 

Thanks -

Jim

Critter's picture
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It is not BS it works and can

It is not BS it works and can work very well.  Look at it this way.  Back when you were a teenager and had a good looking girl on your arm didn't you want to fight any young men that wanted to chalenger you? 

The big problem with calling is that some hunters do it too much and a lot of the bulls become call shy.  They may answer you but as far as coming to you they will stay off in the distance and let you scream your head off. 

We had one bull one year that didn't want to move from where he was at in the bottom of a canyon.  We talked back and forth with him for over an hour and he wouldn't move.  So we moved.  We drove around to the bottom where he was located at and started to call.  Guess what?  He was at the top of the canyon now.  I guess that he figured that he had better head up on top to see what was going on.

If you are planning on a hunting trip or just want to take you family on a great trip in the fall of next year I would suggest a trip up to Estes Park here in Colorado.  The bulls will scream all night and at times it will be hard for you to get any sleep due to all the racket that they are making.   

JSmitty's picture
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Location: Eunice, NM
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The first time you here that

The first time you here that in nature every hair on your body will stand up. Then when you get one to answer you will think that you can talk to the animals Thumbs up it is a great and chilling sound and to have 4 or 5 talking all around within 150 yards is awesome.

Get out and have fun with them.

jim boyd's picture
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Wow Guys - that is incredibly

Wow Guys - that is incredibly good news!

I guess the challenge is knowing when to call and how often to do it, in terms of time between calls!

I want to get out there desperately but the more I read - the more I realize I need help when I get there.

It would seem now that a guided hunt is my best option - then after I learn a little, I can branch out on my own...

Thanks!

TwoBear's picture
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I always teach situational

I always teach situational calling techniques.  What you say, and how you say it should depend on what you are hearing.  I try to understand what the bull is thinking, and what image do I want to portray in response to what I think he is saying. 

An example:  An inexpirenced hunter may cruise through the woods using a "lost cow call".  Now he may not even know that is what he is saying as he is calling.  He gets a bull to bugle a locate back at him, that bull is telling the "lost cow" to come on down, she ain't lost anymore.  However, the hunter, figuring he got the bull to bugle will then repeat the same call over and over again trying to lure the bull in.  The bull of coarse figures out in relatively short order that something doesn't make sense, and he is gone.

The expirenced hunter hears the bull bugle back to a lost cow call and his response is to immediatly cut the distance, and switch to an "excited" cow call, increasing the tempo as the distance gets cut toward the bull.  The bull is now getting excited also, because he scored a lost cow and she is pretty danged happy about finding him. 

Very subtle differences in calling can make or break a call up scenerio.  The hunter must learn to understand and interpet what he hears, and respond in the appropriate manner.  I have been calling elk for 17 years, and I still learn something every year. I still misinterpet what I hear once in awhile and not every call will work as planned, however, through time you will greatly increase your call ups.   

tim
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two bears reply doesn't get

two bears reply doesn't get any better. 

Topgun 30-06's picture
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It sure doesn't and the only

It sure doesn't and the only thing that I have found that comes anywhere near calling bulls in the rut is calling longbeards in the Spring.  The techniques are very similar.  Here is a bull a friend took in 2009 that we called in out in Wyoming where I hunt and all we used were varying cow calls.  He made Pope and Young easily with a final dry score of 285".  The bull in my avatar, which I'll also post, was just dry scored after the 60 required days and was 357 3/8" and was shot by another friend opening morning of the rifle season this past October within 250 yards of where we took the 2009 one.  We have a honeyhole, hehe!!!

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CrazyElkHunter's picture
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Location: Clovis, Calif
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 I agree with TwoBears- I

 I agree with TwoBears- I have been bowhunting and talking to elk for over 30 years, always in late Aug thru Sept Pre rut and full rut. Never hunted them with a gun. That is exactly what got me addicted to elk hunting several years ago. Learning what to say and when to say it is very important. 30 years ago it was not as hard as it is now on modern day bugle shy elk, cows included. You can watch all the fancy hunting shows on private land and the high dollar guided hunts in tough to draw areas and they make it look easy becaus the elk are not as pressured and elk will respond more to calls. Elk hunting is very demanding physically and mentally. On public land it is hard to get away from other hunters, but the further you get away from the road the better. I have called in hundreds of elk thru the years, but I wore out a lot of hunting boots doing it. Calling works during the rut! Just do your homework and learn how to use a call, then learn their language. Just don't over do it. Nothing will beat experience and time in the woods learning the trial and errors talking to elk. Every bull has his own personality and voice like humans. I love filling my freezer just about every year, but I love getting into a shouting match with a bull just as much. Try holding a bow at full draw on a bull screaming at you from 5 yards or less and you can't shoot becaus he's faceing you! Been there done that several times. That's why I love to hunt elk. Is it Sept yet? :::]] banghead

TwoBear's picture
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I agree with Crazy elk

Good post Crazy Elk.  I will go as far as saying many people don't understand elk sounds.  I am not claiming to be an expert by any means, nor even hint that I am better than others in any way.  When I hear terms like "Only bugle to locate, then switch to a cow call" or "If you bugle the bull will just gather his cows and leave", I know right away I am listening to somebody that doesn't really know how to call elk.  I bull is a herd bull, becomes a herd bull, and remains a herd bull because he is willing to fight, period. 

When calling a bull 80%+ of our call-ins are done with bull sounds.  Shocking isn't it?  That is real world hunting, being out in the field 150+ days a years calling, watching and studying elk.  You call in a herd bull by by becoming a threat to the herd.  Get in close and call his cows away, he will come in!  You force that bull to deal with you by becoming a threat to the herd.  You are not a threat when you are 300 yards away, and he may gather the herd in order to prevent you from becoming a threat.  In other words, most bulls gather their cows and leave because of distance, not because of the sounds you are making. 

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Another thing to consider

Is timing the rut. In Colo bow season starts last week of August. However bugling or cow calling in a bull this early is more rare due to the fact that the elk are barely getting into their rut behavior. As you get closer to the peak of the rut which generally is mid to end of Sep. into the first week of Oct. the bulls are high on ultra grade testosterone and this is when calling them in is done much more succesfully. When their raging on their hormones ready to fight to love is when they are most susceptible to being called in. This applies to either satellite bulls hanging onto the periphery of the herd bull and his harem or the herd bull himself as others have said by breaking into his comfort zone. Generally a herd bull will avoid fighting and hanging onto his harem if he can, but if you break into his comfort zone and threaten to steal his cows he will come to fight. Harder to do this due to the increased amount of eyes, ears, and noses, involved in breaking into threatening range of the herd.

Satellite bulls near the peak of the rut are eager to come into a mixture of bugles and or cow calling due to their hormone frenzy and desire to 'get some'.

So, one may try bugling if hunting near the beginning of the season, late Aug. or early Sep., and get no responses and think to himself 'this hear bugling/cow calling don't work' where if he tried it two to three weeks later he may find himself awed at all the action and responses that are conjured up by his same calling. Provided he's hunting where the elk are.

If you are a 'newbie' one of the main things is don't be afraid to call. If you are hearing elk bugling play the wind (the most critical thing) and throw some bugles in their direction and close the distance and stay hidden while doing this. I've initally bugled and then cow called more as I could hear them closing the distance. I cup my cow call and blow it in different directions and tones so as not to let the bull pinpoint precisely where I am as easily and make him think theirs more then one cow. If their hot you don't need to sound perfect to get em riled up and ready to come in to kick butt or make love. Be ready to shoot!

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