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Elk Calling Mistakes!!

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Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby ElkNut1 » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 1]

With the season creeping up on us quickly & so many newer hunter & a few older ones here! (grin) I figured it may be perfect timing to help all of us here with "Calling Mistakes To Avoid" This can be some great info that we can glean from & help ready us for our upcoming elk hunts! Who knows, one small tid bit here could alter our odds & help us towards a successful elk hunt! This Topic can include wallows, water, licks, etc. Feel free to add as many as you'd like but try & only put up one tip per post please! I'll start!

When calling in a "Setup" make sure the caller no matter if there's several hunters or just you, that you call from a chosen spot where elk cannot see the source of the calling, therefore it puts oncoming elk into "search mode" this can prevent hangups! If a lone hunter, call & move with the wind in your favor! Wind hitting right cheek, go left of center, wind hitting left cheek, go right of center. Move 10yd-40yds depending on encounter & cover & do not call from there as elk comes closer, except to stop them for a shot!

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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby JohnFitzgerald » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 2]

When blind/cold calling, make sure to give plenty of time for the elk to come in.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby JohnFitzgerald » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 3]

When popping the end of your tub for glunks, make sure to take your wedding ring off first.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby JohnFitzgerald » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 4]

If you use a bite and blow call only, make sure you have a spare. When wet with spit, the reeds are known to stick.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby The Doc » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 5]

Mistakes ,not sure there is enough space on the forum for me to list all of mine

one evening i saw "elkbowdown" and clayton they were night calling. for some reason they stopped by my camp and told me that they heard a bugle across the canyon , but they were going elsewere and that i should hunt it. {very kind of them} that night it snowed about 4 inches, still snowing hard in the am. first light saw a sattelite bull. ok we saw each other . mistake 1 working in on bugling bull , not paying close attention ,looking for others. i work in slowly and silently up to the second bench . off to my right i see 3 bedded cows . the bull had been quiet for about 15 min. snowing very hard. i put an arrow on the string. hit 2 winey cow calls. 3 seconds later i hear comotion about 70 yards to my left . here comes a nice Idaho 6 point , full stem ahead right at me. when he gets to about 20 yards and coming right at me still running in the open timber i think better draw now {in self defence} mistake 2. he slams on the brakes . slides to a stop at 8 yards , chest covered by a short lodgepole. this lasted about 5 seconds. he whirls and runs back the way he came , so i procede to hit the " duck being ran over by a truck" cow calls. 3 of by far the worst sounding call that ever come out of a reed. mistake 3 { had elknut have been there with me that morning to hear my calls he would have fell down laughing"
anyway the bull sprints to about 30 yards . now imagine what he is thinking at this point. {who is squeezing a mallard this early in the morning} stops brodside. so naturally i shoot , i hear the arrow crack " right into the elk" mistake 4 . its still blizzarding so i figure i better start tracking my so called double lung hit bull . mistake 5. i almost get to where the bull was standing and about 40 yards off to my left , the bull and 2 cows are standing there looking at me. so i think just freeze. no arrow on string . mistake 6. the bull will fall over at any point , mistake 7. they trott off.
i go to where the bull was standing when i fired what turned out to be a "warning shot" . there centered in a 6 inch lodge pole was my dry , non bloody arrow. a clean miss.
it was still a fun day. it quit snowing and i got into 7 different bulls. this was pre wolf.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby cnelk » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 6]

Biggest calling mistake I see guys do...

Calling to elk that are too far away. [200+ yds]

Obviously you used the wind to get close enough to see / hear the elk. Why would you call and make your presence known?


Get closer.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 7]

The Doc wrote:Mistakes ,not sure there is enough space on the forum for me to list all of mine

one evening i saw "elkbowdown" and clayton they were night calling. for some reason they stopped by my camp and told me that they heard a bugle across the canyon , but they were going elsewere and that i should hunt it. {very kind of them} that night it snowed about 4 inches, still snowing hard in the am. first light saw a sattelite bull. ok we saw each other . mistake 1 working in on bugling bull , not paying close attention ,looking for others. i work in slowly and silently up to the second bench . off to my right i see 3 bedded cows . the bull had been quiet for about 15 min. snowing very hard. i put an arrow on the string. hit 2 winey cow calls. 3 seconds later i hear comotion about 70 yards to my left . here comes a nice Idaho 6 point , full stem ahead right at me. when he gets to about 20 yards and coming right at me still running in the open timber i think better draw now {in self defence} mistake 2. he slams on the brakes . slides to a stop at 8 yards , chest covered by a short lodgepole. this lasted about 5 seconds. he whirls and runs back the way he came , so i procede to hit the " duck being ran over by a truck" cow calls. 3 of by far the worst sounding call that ever come out of a reed. mistake 3 { had elknut have been there with me that morning to hear my calls he would have fell down laughing"
anyway the bull sprints to about 30 yards . now imagine what he is thinking at this point. {who is squeezing a mallard this early in the morning} stops brodside. so naturally i shoot , i hear the arrow crack " right into the elk" mistake 4 . its still blizzarding so i figure i better start tracking my so called double lung hit bull . mistake 5. i almost get to where the bull was standing and about 40 yards off to my left , the bull and 2 cows are standing there looking at me. so i think just freeze. no arrow on string . mistake 6. the bull will fall over at any point , mistake 7. they trott off.
i go to where the bull was standing when i fired what turned out to be a "warning shot" . there centered in a 6 inch lodge pole was my dry , non bloody arrow. a clean miss.
it was still a fun day. it quit snowing and i got into 7 different bulls. this was pre wolf.


Mallard squeezing, warning shot.... :lol: :lol: :lol: Thanks Doc.. good points and gave us a morning chuckle (pun intended). RJ
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 8]

There's no such thing IMO as sounding "too big". There is however, such a thing as saying "the wrong" thing. Grunts have their place in a caller's arsenal of sounds but chuckles are used more successfully in many situations. Chuckles are calling something to them (chicks); grunts are confrontational. In my earlier days of bow hunting wapiti, I'd throw grunts on the back of many of my bugles, in many situations... Why? Because I could and they sounded way cool and impressed my hunting partner of that year ;) I was being confrontational. What was I saying? Stay away! Not the best method when you're trying to locate elk and/or call elk to you. Practice both chuckles and grunts as each have their place but reserve your bugles w/grunts for when nothing else you've done seems to work to dislodge a bull from his cows. RJ
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Swede » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 9]

Answering a call from your tree stand is another mistake. Normally do not do any calling while in your tree stand except to settle down an elk you have already shot.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Freebird134 » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 10]

Swede wrote:Answering a call from your tree stand is another mistake. Normally do not do any calling while in your tree stand except to settle down an elk you have already shot.


Mind expanding on this Swede? Why do you normally not call in a stand? And, what are the situations in which you would call from a stand (other than to stop a shot elk).
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Lefty » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 11]

Im a long way from being an elk calling expert.

However with ducks geese and coyotes sometimes calling ( or continued calling)is a bad idea.
If they are coming let them come, no reason to alert any animal to your location
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby JohnFitzgerald » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 12]

cnelk wrote:Biggest calling mistake I see guys do...

Calling to elk that are too far away. [200+ yds]

Obviously you used the wind to get close enough to see / hear the elk. Why would you call and make your presence known?


Get closer.

Ah yes, very common mistake cnelk!
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby CrazyElkHunter » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 13]

Do not over call! Every year, I run into hunters, that when they hear a cow call or bugle, usually from me, they go ballistic and go into a constant frenzy of calls. This is not normal to a elk and they will go the other direction. I know it's the excitement of finally hearing a elk, but it will work against you. Stay calm and don't over do it. When hunting is slow, I love picking on these callers. I will hook and set em with the best I calls I know. Most laugh it off when I call them in close and say you got me, and say it was exciting, but every once in awhile one gets a attitude. Last year a guy was cow calling every couple of minutes behind our camp. Which was good. When I decided to answer him, he started cow calling every 5 seconds.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby mattstanton » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 14]

1. when working solo, use the terrain to bring elk into range. A small roll in the ground that obstructs the elks view of where the calls are coming from will prompt him to crest that roll to get a peek at you hopefully offering a shot.

2. Get close! If you don't get within that 100yd range before you try and pull the bull in, your odds go way down. why would a bull leave 10 or 12 cows to travel 400 yds to pick up one cow or fight off one bull. On the other hand, if he can keep his herd within ear shot while rounding up a cow or running off a bull? Much better odds.

3. If you are not sure what to say in response to a vocal elk, don't guess. No call is better than the wrong call every time.

4. Never call without an arrow nocked! (from experience) You never know when that bull will pop out after that first cow call.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby easeup » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 15]

JohnFitzgerald wrote:If you use a bite and blow call only, make sure you have a spare. When wet with spit, the reeds are known to stick.


you guys have already captured the most common ones that Murphy taught me; but this one made me laugh too. I had a bite and blow call screw up one morning as I sat on a small draw trying to get it to work correctly. natually, it was making some real sick cow calls. I sat there a half hour or so cussing myself for not having another one.
I did not make mistake #9 also because I did have an arrow nocked and you guessed it, here comes a 5x quietly down the draw looking for that messed up cow.

woohooo...what luck!
so even when mistakes are made a hunter can recover and make things work out.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Swede » 07 26, 2012 •  [Post 16]

Calling or not calling from a stand is a little complex. I normally don't call from a stand, as the place I am waiting is where I expect elk will be coming to on their own. I stay quiet and let them come with no idea anything is waiting there. I have found that many elk will avoid others, even cows. Maybe they are call shy too. Calling tells elk that the place where you are waiting is occupied with elk. Elk especially bulls will turn away, or hang up and wait, then turn away. When on occasion they are close, they may leave because they cannot see what called, or they just do not want any kind of conflict. They can stand back and look over the area I called from. I am convinced they were coming, but now they have second thoughts so to speak, If I am in a tree I can go nowhere. If an elk comes around and sees nothing then they know something is wrong. I can't call when they can see me.
A good example was a wallow/spring that I had my son in law waiting at. Day after day he saw and heard nothing near his stand location. It made no sense to me. The location had been good and always reliable. Finally I asked him one evening if he was calling from his stand. He said "yes about every 1/2 hour". As soon as he quit the elk came in. I have experienced this situation many times before I realized, calling was not working for me.
I have called in elk to my stand. What I just wrote is not intended to say it can't be done. I have done it on at least several occasions. It has worked when the odds were against it.
I would call when I see or hear elk and know elk are not going to be coming my way. Depending on the situation I may try a distressed calf call or a chuckle to turn them. I have used short bugles and cow calls too. I have not tried the distressed calf yet. The odds are long against turning elk going somewhere else, but in the situation I describe you have nothing to lose.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby T/H » 07 27, 2012 •  [Post 17]

Phantom16 wrote:There's no such thing IMO as sounding "too big". There is however, such a thing as saying "the wrong" thing. Grunts have their place in a caller's arsenal of sounds but chuckles are used more successfully in many situations. Chuckles are calling something to them (chicks); grunts are confrontational. In my earlier days of bow hunting wapiti, I'd throw grunts on the back of many of my bugles, in many situations... Why? Because I could and they sounded way cool and impressed my hunting partner of that year ;) I was being confrontational. What was I saying? Stay away! Not the best method when you're trying to locate elk and/or call elk to you. Practice both chuckles and grunts as each have their place but reserve your bugles w/grunts for when nothing else you've done seems to work to dislodge a bull from his cows. RJ


i agree with this. there is only 1 guy that i know that might be able to sound too big but for the most part the human bugle is no match for the pissed off herd bull as far as sounding too big is concerned.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby ElkNut1 » 07 27, 2012 •  [Post 18]

Good stuff folks!!! Come on now there's tons more, some of you are holding back! (grin) Remember even the simplest of things to us can be huge to others!

"By the way, who's squeezing a mallard this early in the morning" LOL!!! Awesome!!

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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Swede » 07 27, 2012 •  [Post 19]

Excuse me Elknut. I didn't know my early morning calling practice was carrying that far. Anyway now you know why I am practicing. LOL Another mistake I have made is to call next to an opening the bull would not cross. I could not come to him and he refused to come to me. Several times I have seen bulls walk back and forth a couple times, determine that no elk is really there, then leave. Even though they did not see me in the bush, they saw no elk and I had no opportunity the get them.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Goneelkn » 07 28, 2012 •  [Post 20]

Don't hide so well that you can't get a shot off. One i made years ago, and can still see that bull through the branches i couldn't shoot through.
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby Freebird134 » 07 28, 2012 •  [Post 21]

Great thread! I love hearing how OTHER people make mistakes too! :)
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby otcWill » 07 30, 2012 •  [Post 22]

I could write on and on about this but to simplify things: One of the most common calling mistakes I see is the lack of understanding of elk noises. So many just seem to head out into the woods and blow their cow calls or bugles without any idea of what they are saying. Also, have a plan. Don't just go out and start calling. I rarely if ever do any actual "cold calling". When I use my call, with the exception of the locater bugle, I already know generally where the elk are that I am calling to. Learn what your sounds mean and never use them at random. Good luck!
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Re: Elk Calling Mistakes!!

Postby cnelk » 07 30, 2012 •  [Post 23]

Another mistake I did [ONCE!] was not practicing drawing my bow before calling at a set-up.
An elk came in and when I drew, my right elbow broke a twig coming to full draw.

Be sure to clear all branches, twigs above and behind your draw radius.
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