Calling High Country Bulls
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Steve Byers

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

Calling High Country Bulls

By Steve Byers

Aug 28, 2005, 14:23

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Calling High Country Bulls

By: Steve Byers


Bugling Bull

It?s a crisp clear morning in the high country, you?ve hiked
for miles in the dark to get there when suddenly you hear the shrill high note
of a bull. What is your next move? Do you call back aggressively, or come off
non-confrontational, cow calls or bugles? For the seasoned elk hunter the
choice may come easy, but for a newcomer it can and will be difficult. Let?s go
over a few basic elk sounds that can help you out on your next hunt.



         I feel that
given the right calls at the right moment, there isn?t a bull in the wood?s
that can?t be called in. I think confidence plays a huge roll in calling for
elk. If you are timid, that will be reflected in your calling. Put some feeling
into it! What?s the first thing you think of when I say the word ?elk?? Are you
thinking of a huge herd bull chasing cows and bugling, warding off all
contenders? Yeah, I thought so, me too! To steal a catch phrase from Will
Primos, ?calling is the heart and soul of elk hunting?. The sound of a bugle in
the high country sends chills down my spine! Let?s get started with bugles.


 While no two bulls
sound alike, there is a definite rhythm and cadence to follow. Most bulls start
with a low guttural growl, building to a high note and then abruptly ending
with another growl. This may be followed with a series of chuckles or grunts.
These are short burst?s that go from high to low quickly. There are many types
of bugles, ranging from a non-threatening ?location? bugle that goes from high
to low note to an extremely threatening longer growl to a shorter high and then
ending with a longer growl. Some call this a ?lip ball?, this is a sound a bull
will make when he is set to defend his ground. The last call we need to talk
about is the ?glunk?. This is usually made by a bull while tending his cows.
This may be just the thing a bull wants to hear, before he commits to coming
in! You can make this sound by cupping your hand and tapping the end of your
grunt tube with the palm. Try using these and practice, practice,



          While spot
and stalk on elk can be extremely effective, nothing is more exhilarating than
calling in a bugling, slobbering 800 pound bull! Elk are some of nature?s most
social and vocal animals. We as hunters can use this against them. Let?s begin
with cow and calf sounds, here are a few different calls to start with. The
first is a social call that the herd uses to communicate that all is well; it
is called a ?chirp?. It is a short call sliding from high to low note and lasts
only about one second. The second is the ?mew?, it is a bit longer than the
?chirp?, and has an all together different meaning. The ?mew? is usually used
to locate each other, and could mean ?come here?. Generally speaking, calf
sounds are similar to cow sounds only higher in pitch. The last cow call and my
personal favorite is the estrus call. This is where you can get as crazy as you
want! When using the various other cow sounds I try to remain fairly silent,
but with this call you can be as noisy as you want. I have actually found that
some noise mixed in gives it a more realistic touch. This call is longer in
length than any of the other cow calls. I also try to make the high note just a
bit higher than with the other cow/calf sounds. I have seen that these calls,
mixed in at the proper time, will call in any bull out there!





     You can be a
great caller and call in a bunch of elk, but if your set-up is bad then the
odds will be stacked against you from the get-go. I know people that like to
get on their knees, as to break up their human outline while waiting for a bull
to come in. I prefer to stand in front of a tree to break up my outline, if you
get behind a tree a bull could be right in front of you and still offer no
shot.  I like to use a tree or brush,
when a bull goes behind it, to draw my bow. 
I use my system that I call the ?Y? system. With the caller behind the
shooter, the shooter draws a straight line from the bull to the caller, and
places himself 30 yards on the downwind side of that line. The reason for doing
this that most time?s a bull will circle to the downwind side of the caller. A
bull does this so that he can smell the elk he hears calling. When he does this
he will circle right into the lap of your shooter, and if he comes straight in,
then the shooter will have a good shot. I have used this method for over a
decade now, with some great results.


Dave Church with nice bull



       If you take
these tips and apply them on your next elk hunt, they will help you. Above all,
practice your calling and learn to distinguish the different types of calls
that elk make. The most successful elk hunters out there are the aggressive
ones, so push your luck! For more information on calling or the author check


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2005 by

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