Interview with Mossy Oak Pro Staff Member Jim Brennan

Mossy Oak Pro Staff Member Jim Brennan

Elk Hunting Interview

Q: I have an archery elk hunt planned for the fall. What steps should I take in the next few months to help increase my chance of success?

A: The biggest mistake that hunters make when hunting out West is not being in the proper shape. Elk hunting is very tough and you should be in the best shape possible. Second, make sure you have proper maps well ahead of time to scout your area. Look for north facing slopes where it will be the coolest. That is where you will find your elk. Also look for feeding, water and travel areas. Hunting with a bow out West also requires you to possibly shoot a lot farther than you are used to. Make sure you practice out to ranges past 40 yards. You may not have to shoot that far, but it will make you a better shot. Also shoot up and down on very steep angles for good practice. Try running or jogging then stop and try to shoot just one arrow. This will simulate real life scenarios.

Q: What calls are easiest to use?

A: Most people have trouble using mouth diaphragm calls. The bite and blow reed style calls are very easy to use as are the push bellow style calls. They do a fair job and will usually mimic a cow elk. The most versatile is the mouth call. You can make many different sounds and it does not require your hands so you are free to glass, range and shoot. Always carry a mouth call on you and keep it in your mouth. When an elk walks by you can stop him with a cow call to get the perfect shot.

As for bugles, some of the companies make easy blow through style calls. You will have your best luck if you purchase several of them and PRACTICE a few months before your hunt.

Q: What about calling? How do I learn when and how to call?

A: There are several avenues to learn how and when to call. My advice is to look for a seminar in your area on elk calling. You can also watch some of the dozens of television shows and also the various DVDs that are on the market. Watch them and practice. You can also check with your friends who might have elk hunted and pick their brain. The best avenue is going to a local seminar. Usually you will get one-on-one instruction by the speaker and will get the most out of it.

Q: How do you have your bow set up for elk?

A: My archery equipment does not change throughout the year. I use the same set up for all my animals hunted. I do not like switching around. I want to get familiar with the bow and shoot it all year long. On that note there are some very important points when elk hunting. They are very big animals and your shots need to be spot on. NEVER shoot an elk head on or quartering towards you. You should only take broadside or quartering away angles. An elk can travel a long way and usually even live with one lung hit. Make sure you have the proper angle. Also make sure your set up has enough energy in it to pass deep into the animal. Speed is less crucial with your arrow than weight. They also have a huge shoulder bone so aim about 3-4 inches back from the front leg and about mid way up the body.

Q: What is your favorite tactic for calling in a bull once you locate him?

A: My calling varies on what time of the season it is when I am hunting. In the early season I like to locate elk by using bugles or cow calls. Bull elk are not very vocal early but will respond to your calling. A lot of times they will come in quietly, so be patient. Give yourself at least 45 minutes on each calling set up. When the rut picks up, so will my calling. I locate a bull by bugling but then will cover as much ground as I can and get close before I will call again. The bull will usually respond better if you get in close to him and call again. Some bulls respond better to cow calls while others prefer bugles from rival bulls. Also never try and estimate how big an elk is by his sound. I have some seen huge bulls come in but they sounded like little rag horns.

Q: How important is scent control? Some guys say “just hunt the wind”?

A: There is a lot of writing about scent products, scent control, clothes washing, etc. When it comes to human odor and the wind I feel there is only one true way to hunt and it is not to forget the wind at all. With an elk, have the wind in your face or you will be wasting your time. Elk will smell you EVERY time if the wind is not in your favor. Sometimes I will have to circle around a half mile or more to get the wind in my favor to approach a herd of elk. Try your best not to have them smell you. Elk will run a mile or more and relocate if they feel they are being hunted and wind you.


The Mossy Oak ProStaff is a group of top outdoors men and women from across the country that act as spokespersons for the Brand. Members of the Elite ProStaff are people the hunting community will recognize from their hunting expertise and accomplishments, videos, TV and magazine articles. Our Regional ProStaff is a group of accomplished hunters who promote Mossy Oak in various regions across the U.S. They also manage a more localized Field Staff in their regions. From event support to retail store grand openings to radio and TV appearances, our ProStaff adds value to the Mossy Oak Brand nationally, regionally and locally.

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