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So last Friday I am in elk early morning. I follow a bugling bull and watch him gather his cows and they all bed down. Mean while there are two other bulls bugling about 200yds away. Every time another bull would talk the herd bull would just scream. I figured I would back out and try for one of the satellite bulls. I snuck in close to another bull and started to cow call (wind direction stopped me from getting closer).......nothing. So as I was going to sneak in a little closer, a hunter up top let out this long whiny bugle with some soft chuckles. Well of course the herd bull had to start screaming and give himself away but what baffled me was the satellite I was after went nuts and started to run towards the hunter's bugle. I stopped him about 60yds away but couldn't get a shot off (cool 6x2.) I am trying to figure out why that hunter's particular bugle got him so fired up when there were other elk bugling for an hour prior? Just trying to get more educated on their communication. Thanks for any helpful input.
Elk hunting isn't a perfect science, so could be one of several explanations. My guess would be the herd bulll had already kicked the satellite's behind, so he knew better than to do nothing more than scream insults from a distance. Along comes this whimpy sounding new guy on the block. He more than likely ran towards this new "bull" to size him up, hoping to steal HIS cows.
That makes perfect sense. He was on a mission and obviously knew better to mess around with the herd bull. It really surprised me he was not more interested in a cow call. Thanks Wyo.
Most of the bugles I heard were interpreted as saying #$@$ you.......and I took them personally..........damn elk.
Ha. Hard not to take it personal....
Ha. Hard not to take it personal....
He had to go check out the new bull and figure out where he stood in the pecking order. The other bulls he already knew who they were and how he ranked in the pecking order with them.
So are the satellite bulls afraid to come into a cow call assuming the herd bull will kick their butt again?
Possible. Who knows? Same reason a bull will respond to one call when he ignores another. Not every vocalization is going to trigger a response every time. Same reason you tune out your wife until she hits a certain tone...then your response is IMMEDIATE! lol!
Years ago, I found a "magic" call that worked awesome. It was a call I'd never heard anyone mention until years later. That "magic" call was the mew. Fast forward a few years and suddenly it seemed to be the rage. It was the answer to all those bulls that had become bugle shy. Seemed like hardly anyone used bugles anymore...everyone was too busy blowing their freakin' cow calls every 2 seconds as they tromped through the woods. One afternoon, I had a herd that was going to pass just out of range. No problem, I'd just hit a couple mews and they'd come right in...just like they always had. Only problem was, as soon as I mewed they stopped in their tracks, turned around, and departed the way they'd come. I realized those elk had become conditioned to the point they were cow call shy. Not saying that's why your satellite ignored mews, but it's a possibility.
Are you 100% sure it was another hunters call? I've heard some wack elk bugles. Little howls like coyotes ended up being big bulls.
My interpretation is about the same. The herd bull is telling the others to F-off and stay away from his cows. The satellite is fired up, but maybe not fired up enough to charge into the dominate bulls territory so he went on to the other bull.
Part of me wonders it it's actually a real bull he knew instead of another hunter. Supposedly they know each others sounds.
I've watched bulls screaming just going to fight eachother and taking turns sparring. They werent interested in breeding just fighting. Maybe he was just in fight club mode and wanted another contender.
Defensive herd bull indicates a hot cow in his group! Satellites will hang on the perimeter as you experienced wanting a piece of the action as soon as the cow is ready to be bred! These Satellites will Advertise themselves as a possible breeder bull to this cow, they are not trying to fight or challenge the herd bull or they'd be right in his face challenging him for the right to keep & breed these cows! Because they already know where they fall in the pecking order from previous displaying they don't dare get to close to this group!
When this additional hunter or real bull bugles during your presence it merely represents more competition to the satellites, some will become defensive towards them not wanting to share the possible prize! (grin) The herd bulls defensive bugles just keeps the pesky satellites at bay!
No hot cow, no defensive bugling action!
A cow can be bred by 3-4 different bulls not just the herd bull, this is why the satellites hang in there hoping the hot cow might choose one of them as a possible breeder! They bugle representing dominance to the best of their abilities!
I am positive it was a hunter. He sounded off with the same exact bugle 3-4 times and then came down into the hole were all the action was cow calling every few seconds. But I guess that's neither here nor there. The satellite bull thought it was a real bull, hence the question. Paul I think you are right on with the "hot cow" theory. This bull was going bozo and if there was even a peep from another elk he was screaming. It is truly awesome to experience. Thanks to everyone for the input.