Contributors to this thread:
For those of you that hunt heavily pressured, OTC areas and use calling as a primary technique, what percentage of the bulls that you've called in have shown up announced? Do you feel that this happens more early in the season? Does the age of the bull in question enter into this equation? For myself, I'd say probably 50% or so never make a peep, and more often the silent ones have been immature, subordinate Bulls...
Early season much more so for me. About 60% I'd guess. And they sometimes come precisely in the place I can't see well, or behind my friend so he can't see them, and I can't shoot!
Opening weekend 3 years ago I called in 3 bulls silently. Unfortunately for me I found out I had called them in as I stood up to move on. Still don't understand how a 500 pound animal can come in without breaking a twig.
Agreed. Their "ghost mode" has always amazed me.
My funniest was two years ago. The big bulls had lots of cows and we hadn't had much luck calling them in. It was mid day and we were laying across a trail trying to take a nap. The client was to my left and wanted to try calling. He made a few calls while we lay there.
A few minutes later as I was about to doze off, I heard a snap, very close. I slowly looked to my right and a modest bull was looking at me from about 20 yards. I had a Montana decoy in my pack. I reached in, pulled the inner tube band off and let it snap open.
That got the bulls attention but he stood there long enough for my guy to get up to his knees as I tried to hide him with the decoy. He took the first of what I referred to as his "lumberjack" shots.
Overwhelming minority of the bulls I've called in have come in silent. Of those that have, nearly all have occurred during the first week in Sept.
Don't want to hi-jack this thread, but................. what was used to call these bulls in? cow calls, bugles, raking, stomping, or combination there of? (especially early season - like first couple weeks)
I had a 6x answer me a quarter mile away up hill following others. He answered maybe twice and went silent. I figured he headed over the mountain. There were others coming up hill so I continued talking with them. I was on a logging road watching for the others coming uphill. Something caught my eye off to my left. I didn't have an arrow nocked. Standing there 25 yards away was a 6x6 broadside looking at me. And right as I was drawing he trotted away.
Inshart, for me it's been mews and light bugles. I don't get real aggressive early in the season unless a bull gets fired up himself. Early on, they seem to be more curious than anything. I feel that's why they come in silent. They want to check out the new kid on the block that's causing all the ruckus. No need to rush in and get your butt kicked before the fun even begins. ;-)
I was just telling DirtyD last night at archery league how I like early season and the 'adrenaline rush' when an elk slips in quiet.
Sometimes you hear a hoof knock on a fallen tree, other times you see a flash of legs coming thru the timber
Gotta love early season
I hunt a heavily hunted area. I would say about 75% of the time the bulls slip in quiet and never bugle back to me.. I often wonder how many slip in and out without me ever knowing it at all. I'm amazed that an animal that large can sneak in and be standing behind me without ever hearing them come in.
They might come in quiet as in not bugling but you can still hear their antlers rub against branches of their hoofs catching a log or a rock roll----->
Exciting for sure!
Good luck, Robb
PS--yeh mainly a cow call ~~ light and low blow.
With 100's of call ins on OTC elk hunts I'd summarize things up like this!
All depends on our calling sequence? Bulls & Cows are more likely to come in silent on Blind/Cold Calling, Advertising Sequence, Breeding Sequences! The reason for this is you are not directly talking to a specific elk! You are calling in areas that can raise curiosity in other elk. Being herd animals this raises curiosity as to who you are in their area, this can insight an approach! These types of calling setups do not ask for a response or assistance, there intent is to let other elk know that other elk are there! It's more common to have curious cows or bulls to work their way towards you especially with persistent calling.
When working bulls with cows in or near estrus your odds now increase to have a bull come in bugling/chuckling as you use either cow calls or bugling when fairly close to them. This is also true if you can convince other elk that YOU are the one with a Hot Cow! It's the bull that lets you know if there's a hot cow present not the cow! Defensive bulls=hot cows! Of course the more un-pressured elk you can hunt the more vocal you will find them!
My most memorable experience was in my first bow hunt in 2005. Elk were staging above a water source each morning. I got in their early on day 3 and cow called once from a bench near by. I got a weak bugle (close) in response and did not move for 15 min. Had made the hike up hill in the dark in a black base layer. Choose to add a shirt and removed my shooting glove, arm guard, and binos. Rag horn (legal bull) came side hilling in so silently I got busted at 3 yards with my bino harness over my arms and my bow laying in front of me before I noticed him! stuck in mid-task, I could not reach for the recurve with an arrow knocked, or finish putting on the harness in the half light. Morning wind was steady blowing down the slope and he never smelled me even though I had lathered up pretty good on the hike in. The stand off lasted 5 or 6 minutes with the light increasing all the time. He eventually wondered off after doing the double take of my form a couple times. He was puzzled what I was and he knew something wasn't quite right with me being there. I could clearly see his eye lashes he we was so close! I have had similar situations occur since then, but never so close or for so long. In 2014 three of us got busted by a spike bull at 15 yards. We had chased a few young bulls that morning and as usual, they typically shut up at 8:45 AM. I remember we were reviewing the events and talking in not-so-soft tones when Boo- yah there he was standing there! One of us had an arrow knocked but could not shoot because our designated caller was in the way! The caller tried to slowly squat out of the line of fire but the bull would not tolerate the movement. The spike had enough an got out of dodge. It's rare to get a shot off in these close encounter situations. Someday I will learn to move cross wind a few yards after calling and get off the GD game trail. Great fun none the less!
The first several days of the season we'll have bulls coming in silent. They're coming in to check out the new comer and to see what he's bringing to the party. Usually we call and bugle then move forward 30 yards and stand there watching. You'd be surprised the bulls people call in and never see...
"Dang it we should have had arrows nocked, never again."
*2 years later
"Dang it, I know we should always be ready when calling"
"I know but we hadn't seen an elk in 2 day..."
"SHH! Don't move. Another bull looking at us right there at 30 yards"
*Crash, crack, thump, crash
"No waaaaay. I can't bel..."
"Stop. Lets nock an arrow and get in front of some cover"
LOL! I'm laughing at myself too!
Early season they usually come in quiet for me. If they bugle I'm usually in for a standoff until about the tenth. The good thing is when they come in quiet I can usually here the brush breaking.
Try this, in the early season if you think a bull might come in down wind because of the area you are in. Call from a position for a few minutes or usually more,, and then drop down wind 50-60 yards to a spot with good shot lanes. Then if the bull does circle down wind from there he thinks the calling is coming from, he might end up in your lap for a good shot.
It was Sept. 13th in a heavily hunted OTC area, just before noon during a full moon. We heard this bull bugle from his bed near treeline so we circled around above and downwind of him. Les stayed back to call and I moved forward about 50 yards toward where I thought he was and as close as I dared to get. Les started calling; cow calls and a couple non-aggressive bugles. All of a sudden there he was coming toward Les from a bench slightly below us. He locked up about 70 yards from Les and about 22 yards from me, staring in the direction of Les's calls. A couple times he made the motions with his mouth like he was bugling but he never made any sounds. I've seen it before on videos and I've often wondered if they were actually making bugling sounds that elk could hear but that were in a range that the human ear can't hear...? I was at full draw but couldn't get a shot due to brush in the way. I eventually had to let down. After a few minutes he lost interest and turned to walk away and that's when he gave me the shot. Les never even knew he was there until he heard me shoot and saw me jump out from behind a tree with my arms extended in the air. He only ran about 50 yards after the shot and when he went down he did the death moan bugle and another bull went absolutely ballistic 100-200 yards away. We tried to call him in too but no luck.
Man that was fun!!!!
September 21st, elk were bugling like crazy all night. As the sun was rising the herd started moving higher and we were flanking them and trying to catch up. The bugling became more infrequent as the sun got brighter. We thought we were pretty close to the herd and I made a few cow calls and one bugle. We moved forward about 30-40 yards and stopped below a bench. Suddenly I saw antlers coming from above the lip of the bench. He came to the lip of the bench and stood there looking down toward us and then committed and started walking straight toward me without making a sound. If it wouldn't have been for the tree that branches that he couldn't get his antlers under and having to turn his head to clear them I never would have been able to draw on him and he might have walked right into me. Sometimes a little luck goes a long way!
I guess the moral of the story is that I probably wouldn't have killed either of these bulls if I was relying on them to bugle on the way in.
A couple years ago my son and I were set up in a good area on the second day of the hunt... the day before was very hot temp wise but slow as far as hunting goes... this particular morning though it got cold and a steady breeze right into our faces. We were doing some light calls and short immature bugles about every 15 minutes. After about 3 hour of this, we were cold and I talked him into moving our spot about 2 yards away into a sunny spot. We finished up the last sequence of calls and gathered our packs, bows, and stuff to head the short 20yrds... we didn't go 5 feet when I caught movement. The stare down lasted about 30 seconds... they spun and hurried off the way they came. This was the 3rd week of the season.... Oregon doesn't have a Rut during the Bow season anyway so almost every elk I've been in close on came in silent.
If you take a stand and call, decide on a time when you want to get up and leave after your last call. Then add 30 minutes. Then get up and walk away. I've seen too many white butts and racks headed the other way after sitting for 30-45 minutes and deciding to move on. And when sitting, always keep an arrow nocked.