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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

How To Elk Call
By T.R. Michels
Aug 7, 2006, 05:09

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T.R. Michels
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Elk Calling, by T.R. Michels

Determining what call to use when you are hunting elk is not a matter of what time of the year you are hunting, but which sex and age class elk you want to attract.

Cow elk don't normally respond to any call, other than a Fighting Squeal, because they prefer to stay with the herd and their calves. However, lone cows may come to a Contact Mew, Cow Mew or other cow/calf calls to join a herd; or to the Bugle. Remember, it's the cow that chooses and responds to the bull. Older cows may respond to Distress Mews and Calf Mews out of maternal instinct.
The Fighting Squeal is one of the most productive calls you can use, especially if you don't care whether you call in cows or bulls. I've stopped a herd of over 50 cows as they were leaving, by using a Fighting Squeal. By repeatedly blowing the Fighting Squeal as loud as I could, I got the closest of the cows (which were at 50 yards) to turn around and look in my direction.

Then, as I continued to use the call, the farthest cows (which were 300 yards away) turned around and began to trot in my direction, eventually stopping within 50 yards of where I stood. The closest cows walked to within 20 yards of me. During this time the herd bull had been following behind the cows When the cows stayed where they were (for 15 to 20 minutes), the herd bull came to the front of the cows to push them in the other direction. As the bull got in front of the cows he walked within 20 yards of me, close enough for a shot with a bow.
I've also used the Fighting Squeal to bring in 1 and 2 year old bulls. Although older bulls don't respond to the Fighting Squeal as well cows and younger bulls, I once used it to bring in a massive antlered 8x7 point non-typical bull, from 200 yards to 100 yards. He came in slowly, stopping frequently, and it took him about 15 minutes, but he came within rifle range. You can also use the fighting squeal to get a cow/calf heard to show itself during daylight hours.
All bulls respond to any call that may lead them to an estrous cow, especially a loud Contact Mew or Cow Mew. Herd bulls also respond to heavy breathing, Glugs, Contact Grunts, Roars, Bugles, Chuckles, Coughs, Dominance Grunts, and Gurgles out of dominance. I've used a Glug and heavy breathing to stop a bull and bring it in closer.

Depending on the sex and class of elk you want to call there are basically four different sets of elk calls that can be used  to hunt elk. The dominant bull calls of the fourth technique are not as effective after the rut because the bulls are exhausted, not as aggressive, and not as interested in breeding.
  1. For cows; Distress/Contact/Cow/Calf Mew or Fighting Squeal.
  2. For any elk; Contact/Cow/Calf Mew, Fighting Squeal, or Contact Grunt.
  3. For any bull; Contact/Cow/Calf Mew, Contact Grunt, Fighting Squeal, subdominant Bugl,e Loud Inhale/Exhale or Glug,.
  4. For dominant bulls; Contact/Cow/Calf Mew, Contact Grunt, Fighting Squeal, Roar, dominant Bugle, Chuckle, Loud Inhale/Exhale, Cough, Dominance Grunt, Gurgle or Glug,
You can perform most of the call elk use by carrying Haydel's MEB-85 Magnum Elk Bugle, their VTC-93 Variable Tone Cow Elk call, and their Double and Triple reed elk diaphragms. If you are archery hunting you can use the mouth diaphragms while still having both hands on your bow.

T.R. Michels is a nationally recognized outdoor writer and speaker, who has been researching big game for several years. He is the author of the Whitetail, Elk, Turkey and Goose Addict's Manuals. His latest products are the 2002 Revised Edition of the Whitetail Addict's Manual, the 2002 Revised Edition of the Elk Addict's Manual; and Whitetail Notes & Activity Factors. For a catalog of books and other hunting aids contact: T.R. Michels, Trinity Mountain Outdoors, PO Box 284, Wanamingo, MN 55983. Phone: 507-824-3296. E-mail:  Website:

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