Hey guys, For those of you that ever hunt elk on extended trips with one, two, or however many guys, my question is, what rules govern who is shooter and when...is it one shooter alternating each day, do you alternate based on elk encounters, etc? My brother in law decided he wants in on the next elk hunt, and we each have different opinions on this.
After watching the Born and Raised series, and seeing how they alternate shooters based on encounters with elk even within a single day, I like that method for a couple of reasons: 1. There's a level of excitement and anticipation from multiple perspectives that both guys can experience each day 2. Two guys with tags have an opportunity to experience being both shooter and caller on those rare days when the stars align and the rut is on. This seems to average things out better, rather than one guy being the only shooter on that hot day, and the next guy up potentially coming into the exact opposite conditions the following day. The same would apply to good weather vs poor weather...again, alternating more frequently would seem to average things out better.
Now, I know those hot days are wishful thinking and few and far between, but the fact that it's possible at all, makes that system more appealing and fair to me. What are the rules you all follow with your hunting buddies?
Have always alternated every other setup (opportunity) unless someone has spotted a really good Bull that they want to try for. Edit, but normally I am hunting solo but possibly sharing a camp with others.
I've only ever hunted with one guy at a time, and those are rare occasions. I'm mostly solo even when sharing a camp. But when I do it's either as Rock describes, or I call for someone else to try to get them a bull.
My elk buddy and I just kinda play it by ear. I've never felt it unfair. Sometimes, we alternate from setup to setup. Sometimes day to day, sometimes not. We just kinda play it by the situation and the circumstances in that hunt.
My buddy hasn't killed an elk in a few years, not for lack of trying. Last year he didn't have an opportunity. He didn't go in 2016. He brisket shot and lost one in 2015. I killed one last year, and I hunted in 2016, and missed one in 2015. He's due and he's up. I would say on our next hunt that he's designated shooter until he kills one. I think that's fair for us.
Team approach. Whatever is going to get a bull on the ground for the group. With my old man and my brother being my partners, for one they are both awful callers right now, and I want to call them a bull as bad as myself (and still managed a shot each year as caller). If you are foreseeing high potential for jealousy, probably shouldn't be hunting together anyway.
After trying different methods over the years my hunting partner and I bow hunt separately. One reason is to cover more ground and also the difference in weapons; I shoot a longbow and he shoots a crossbow. We will occasionally hunt together during rifle season when the elk are found in our area in much larger groups.
My current hunting buddy only had a couple elk under his belt, so I pushed him ahead to be the shooter on our 2016 NM elk hunt. He ended up killing a 350 bull on our first setup! He did a great job of calling for me after that, and I killed a great bull as well.
It's the same "rush" for me, whether I make the shot, or my buddy...I love it!
Good to hear everyone's perspectives...to the guys that alternate with each setup, what is your definition of when a setup starts and ends? I know that's getting down to detail, but is a question I was going back and forth with my brother in law about. Like when you make contact either visually or by calling, does that start the setup, regardless how far away it is? And then when does a setup "end"? For me, the "when it starts" is tricky because you can glass something up at a mile out, but it's not really something you can pursue for whatever reason...loss of contact seems a bit easier, and for me, loss of sight and sound ends it once a stalk has started or a setup is blown for whatever reason.
I know it's all a matter of perspective and will vary from group to group and situation to situation, which is exactly what I'm interested in hearing.
I prefer not to hunt in a group. We did that 1 year and seemed like we made too much noise and bad decisions as a group. Usually its just 2 of us. I don't ever remember us having a discussion as to who would be the shooter. Each encounter is different. We are usually not selfish so 1 time 1 guy will call and we will switch it up but both have arrows nocked. Only time I specifically said YOU are the shooter was when I screwed up an easy shot so figured I owed it to my buddy since he called it in. Of course the next bull walked right by me and out of the shooter's range. I do seem to have the best luck hunting solo but having 1 on the ground by yourself isn't any fun after the pics are taken.
If you're too worried about "rules", it could work against you, IMHO. You'll find that elk rarely play by the rules. Team hunting is all about doing whatever needs to be done, to get an elk down, according to the situation. Play your strengths.
Once you get a bull down, you eliminate the "caller vs shooter" dilemma !
One time my best friend and I were working a bull we hadn't seen. I was voice bugling and the bull came right to me, past my buddy for a chip shot. He didn't shoot because he said I'd called the bull in. I was waiting for him to shoot and the bull turned and walked away.
Another friend killed that bull the following week. He ranked #11 in CO archery at the time. Since then I've always made sure we're both on the same page for every variable.
It seems that I am always the caller when hunting elk.
Usually pretty effective with just one other hunter but it is much tougher with more than that. 3 is maximum and that is really tough to manage. Typically put the shooter/shooters a bit in front and try to get them settled in with some shooting lanes prior to calling.
Interestingly, I think I have every bit as good a chance to get a shot as the shooters and have killed a number of bulls that came in around the shooter without them getting a shot and allowed me to shoot.
I was pretty much the caller on this hunt trying to get my son and best friend a shot at a bull. Worked out for my son!
I was pretty much the caller on this hunt trying to get my son and best friend a shot at a bull. Worked out for my son!
I found that the caller can carry a bow, but if he has a desire to shoot then things go bad quickly. Obviously, if a bull comes in the back door then the caller shoots the bull. Other than that the caller must give himself up for the good of the team and focus totally on getting a shot for his partners. You better get this worked out long before the tires ever even hit the road!
Joe, My thoughts exactly...I'd like to get this squared away as soon as possible, then get on with the fun part of planning, practicing shooting, training, etc.
It seems that most guys alternate on setups, or go the team route. I think Bake was the only one that mentioned sometimes alternating day to day. I hadn't thought about the team route, with the caller nocking an arrow on a setup as well, but I like it...focus goes to putting an elk on the ground for the team...period. I imagine there are some points to be on the same page about even with this approach, but seems that should be easier, and would revolve more around when the caller should feel good about taking a shot. To me, that could be resolved by splitting a minimum "safe" distance apart. If caller sees the bull come in a location where it's obvious the shooter didn't even see him, or could get a shot at the moment the bull presents a shot to the caller, then the caller is at liberty to shoot.
There's some variability and subjectivity in that scenario, but some is common sense...if I'm 75 yards from my partner, and bull flanks on either side and is now 20 yards out from me and moving away from shooter, in my mind the setup now shifts me to the shooter role. I know I'm overthinking probably, but don't want to leave anything to question when we get out there.
When having multiple hunters (2-4) hunting together it can be advantage hunters over the elk in a huge way, you just need a good game plan per encounter. In most cases we are running & gunning elk, this means as soon as we locate a bugling bull we now will setup accordingly. For us when hunting dark timber ( that's normal for us) we will alternate one shooter per encounter. It doesn't matter if there's 2 to 4 hunters, still only one shooter at a time! We now have the luxury on a setup to have multiple callers as needed. In most cases it's still one caller but you never know. The caller generally starts aprox 25 yards from designated shooter with good cover, this allows the caller to move left or right to direct an oncoming elk or caller can retreat if needed on a hung up bull. The callers role is very important here!
On more open country we will then consider two shooters when available, this is because the caller will need to be quite a bit further back, more in the 60 yard plus range even to a 100 yards away so it's tougher to direct a bull exactly where you need him to come to a single shooter. With two shooters they can be 40 yards apart or so.
At any rate we will alternate a new shooter per setup. This way everyone's happy that has a tag & all will have their chances sooner or later!
"My brother in law decided he wants in on the next elk hunt"
I think that first you need to decide if you really want him along. The way you phrased this statement suggests to me that maybe you really aren't that thrilled with him coming along. If everyone wants each other along and wants each other to succeed then the answers to questions like who is the shooter becomes pretty easy.
We go out as a group but I generally prefer to hunt by myself. They normally set up with one as the caller WITH the understanding which-ever hunter gets the first good opportunity takes it - with-in reason of course (don't shoot past your partner just so you get to shoot first). TEAM CONCEPT.
As Lou said - passing one up could result in a missed opportunity.
Nice video cnelk, When hunting with my friends I'm usually the caller, I'm also always a "shooter"( if I have a tag). Elk never do what you want them to do so keep an arrow nocked and pick a good calling spot that's also a good shooting spot! I've killed several bulls as caller but never had it work out with someone else calling for me as the "shooter". In My experience you'll often call in a silent satellite bull that the "shooter" will never see, might as well shoot em'.
When I hunt elk with either one of my buddies I get first opportunity at being the primary shooter (They live in MT, me in PA). After that we alternate primary shooter and caller, but its known that if you have a kill shot at any time take it no matter whose turn it is.
I tried to get him out with me this September, but he wasn't interested in going at the time. I ended up going solo, and after hearing about my experience and fact that I planned on going back, it flipped a switch and he is now all in.
The main thing that's driving my preference for alternating shooter/caller on each setup(with the note that both are at liberty to shoot based on who has the best opportunity) is based on what I experienced on my trip.
In the same area, on back to back days, I experienced a day full of screaming bulls, followed by a day full of complete silence. When you may only have one day like that in a trip, I'd want him to experience being shooter in a situation like that just as much, if not more, than I'd like that for myself.
If you feel the need to define the rules to such a minute level that is a concern IMO. That means to me that each guy is more out for himself. That is just how I read it. When I am hunting with people I want to be in a group where each guy is genuinely excited for the OTHER guy to shoot something. It eliminates all the potential hard feelings.
One such hunt for myself was my first moose hunt this past fall with my brother. It was a first for both of us. We alternated after 24 hours, but the shooter was shooter for a PM, then the following AM. So each "day" we were each "on" for half a day. Once one person shoots, it's the other guy. We were also both on the understanding that priority 1 is getting a bull down, so when/if things don't go according to plan and someone improvises to shoot who isn't "the shooter" that's perfectly all right. And I wouldn't be worried about a person selfishly taking an opportunity over, as when you reference my earlier point, I'm not hunting with that type of person. We are both equally happy for either to get one.
I prefer solo hunting, especially when you're with guys who feel they are "competing" for the shot. The more independent everyone is, the better chance you have of everyone filling their tag. Once I fill my tag ( I usually do by myself) it frees me up to help my partners fill theirs. I prefer not to elk hunt with any more than 2 other hunters, 3 total at the most. I'm not really into party hunts, too many personalities to deal with, and it seems to complicate an already difficult task.