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Mid afternoon bugling
What some opinions on a situation my dad and came across a couple years ago. It was around 1:00pm. We were just above timerline sitting on the top of a rock chute looking down into a deep nasty heavy timber bowl taking a break to eat. All of a sudden a bugle rips off probably 200-300ft lower in elevation and guessing about that far into the timber. And then another about 5 minutes later, then another in about 5 more minutes. This is opening day in Colorado OTC. It's hot, and I wouldn't think much rutting activity that early in the year. Wondering what you experienced elk hunters would do in this scenario, and why would a bull be bugling that time of day. And it wasn't another hunter, I promise.
Slide down get the wind in my face and close in every time he bugles. Once I was within 80-100 I would fire one back at him . If I had a partner I would send him in 50 yards ahead of me
It's possible he was Advertising himself, bulls will do this as they basically hold position in bedding areas, they do this as a signal to draw cows their way no matter early,peak or post rut.
If no responses from other bulls were heard where he was warning them to stay away it's a good bet he was trying to draw cows his way to build or add to a harem. Standard practice morning, midday or evening, right place right time!
My guess, he was moving cows to a waterhole, for a midday drink/ wallow.
If the wind was not too swirly, he'd be approachable from above. But, hard to count on the wind, that time of Day!
I don't have any where the experience of the other guys who already posted, but I've heard them do it too. I find some shade and catch a nap that time of day, and I've had bulls wake me up more than once.
Like elkmtn said, the wind is so nasty that time of day, there was nothing I could do about it.
What was interesting, is I hung out till dark, and they were either gone, or not bugling anymore.
Maybe should have just taken a chance and went after them. Sometimes I think I'm too conservative. Can't shoot one if you don't try.
As they say on Bowsite, ElkNut1 "nailed it!"
I would just take a nap and wait for me guide to tell me what to do. Lol I kid. A bull bugles I am crafting a plan to go after him.
Not sure about yinzers post. But we did like patdel, thought he would feed out into the open come evening and we could get thermals in our favor. Get around below him, and make something happen. Never did see him
Bulls that bugle mid day are a bow hunters dream. Move right in on them just like huntman said. Those noon buglers are the easiest bulls to call in. This is the reason we always wait until at least 1 pm to call it and head back to camp until the evening hunt.
Add me to the sneak in quiet Team
I wouldn't make a single call, just slip in as close as possible playing the breeze/draft, knock-up if ya get a visual...…..
I hope you and your Dad arrow one this fall
Good luck, Robb
I like the sneak in with the wind in your face idea. The only problem is, everywhere I've ever hunted, in the middle of the day, i would have to turn around every ten seconds to keep it there.
Totally unpredictable. You guys try anyway? Or wait it out?
Possibly got winded, although by noon if it was totally sunny without intermittent clouds the thermals should have been steady uphill. That could be why he shut-up and you never heard him again. Sounds like he was very close to start with. Get him or his relative this fall!
I get winded enough without pressing fickle mid-day wind
Ks, if the bull was giving Advertising bugles you would have noticed he held his ground & his bugles were basically coming from the same spot. If the bull was moving by himself or with cows you would have noticed he was traveling some which would be noted where his bugles were heard.
At any rate a lone bull is much easier to cow call your way than a herd bull if advertising. Simple regathering mews could bring him your way if within a couple hundred yards after all this is what he's asking for. If it's a herd bull he will most likely try calling you to him & frown upon coming to you leaving his cows unattended. You need to go to him. The beauty of going to him is you do not need quiet conditions, it can be loaded with downfall/brush & making noise as you head toward him giving soft cow calls every 10-15 seconds is a good thing as long as you have cover & wind in your favor. In most cases the bull will continue to give you a direction as you head his way through short bugles & chuckling, advantage hunter!
Getting aggressive off the get go by challenging him could push him, don't fall into that trap!
Good stuff Paul. What would you suggest once you get into the danger zone of being seen. Whether it’s 40 yards or 70 yards depending on vegetation?
John, I stick to the cover religiously! I try not to get tunnel vision on where the bull is by his calling but keep on the watch for additional elk such as cows, spikes that I may need to avoid or wait for them to move out of sight. When I get to the 40 yard distance or so I generally still cannot see the bull, this is where I nock an arrow & stop all calling. Cover/wind is essential here as you make your final approach, again don't worry about popping sticks & rustling brush as this is normal. It's common for the bull to encourage this new cow (you) to him, he can do this by Display/Raking to show off to you. This move by the bull has cost several of them a truck ride home! It's my time to move if needed draw & wait for a clear shot, my furthest shot has been 25 yards & closest 17 yards with this aggressive tactic. It flat anchors the bull to one spot as he awaits this new recruit!
I've never hunted anywhere where the wind was stable enough to go after the midday bulls. Hear them bugling out of bedding areas all the time, and roaming satellite bulls bugle as they wander from valley to valley. We wait until later when it settles rather than blow them out.
A rising thermal with see-saw winds is a recipe for disaster, which is what we deal with in the narrow basins on the Continental Divide. I envy guys who hunt where the wind is somewhat stable during the day.
I’m with Lou - although I still sometimes can’t resist trying, fickle mid day winds have saved lots of bulls lives in my elk hunting career. Poudre
I had a bull bugle at me off his bed just below a ridge above me as I was making a racket about 11 am one day stacking logs across a closed FS road that was continually opened (using chainsaw in this area is also illegal per the FS agent) and used by trucks and ATVs to access this roadless area. It was hotter than sweaty balls. I guess he thought I was a bull making the racket and was letting me know he didn't approve. LOL
X3 Brad and Lou. I've learned from my mistakes
No doubt wind can be a factor anytime of morning, midday or evening, it must be respected no matter what! When conditions are conducive, have a plan & a fairly quick one at that if wind is holding up. Moving in on a bull takes about 1-2 minutes tops, if wind is good go for it, if not you must hold tight or back out no matter the time of day.
I hunt plenty of areas where wind holds up from time to time midday & I hunt areas where it doesn't! It's up to us to hunt smart regardless of method or tactic.
Paul’s advice is golden.
Most of the bulls I and others with me have killed have been mid-day bulls in that treeline country.
Work the wind, get in close, stay tight to cover and if you have to, send him a cow call and be ready for him to come!
Different strokes for different folks. I have killed 5 bulls between 12-2. I guess we get better midday wind than those Colorado boys ;) Hunt
Mike the Cheesehead killed a nice bull in an OTC unit just after lunch a few years back. The same year, a few days later, I had killed a raghorn around 9:30 am. We were breaking him down at lunch time when we called in a big 5x5 to only a few yards. I'm sure Mike will post some pics when sees this thread.
Interesting. I haven't killed a single elk midday. Years without success have led me to naps in the afternoon. I'll be chasing elk with a good friend and killer in 2019 who has very different experience. No doubt I'll learn a few things and elk will die. Can't wait! It's so hard to generalize anything when it comes to elk hunting. Different areas/elk can be night and day different.
The places I've hunted, it's been pretty impossible for us to get in on them after 11 AM and more like 10. You have to weigh the situation and make your best guess. I usually opt for caution and take a nap unless I feel that I can use a thermal that has some consistency and move quickly, which is rare. I've hunted the same bull in multiple places for over a week by being cautious.
Early season is so different than later when you have them bugling over a hot cow and you can sneak in on those or cow call them easier. I feel like I blow 10+ of them out for every 1 I get a legitimate chance to shoot after 10 AM and it's even tougher if they're on the move away from you - you literally have to run to catch them.
A spot where I hunt has a wallow about 100 yards from the top of the ridge. Starting around the 10th of September it becomes a go to spot for elk. Game cameras show they are moving in and out most hours of the day. I’m tempted to build a blind 30 yards up the steep hill and sit it from 11-4 but I just don’t trust the thermals enough. The area also holds almost all the bedding areas for elk in the entire area...soooo...
If I worried about swirling winds all the time, I'd never get to go hunting ;)
That may be true, but those that do worry about swirling winds tend to do a little more killin’. ;-)
I wouldn't say NM winds swirl, its more like a whip.
Man, I wish killing elk was as easy as it is on the internet
Ucs, yes sitting a midday blind for several hours would have to be a pretty special place for predictable wind at that time. Normally it would not hold up that long without giving you up. Problem is if winded it could change their pattern & not come back for your duration of the hunt. Not good!
Idy, it is a tough go at times but hunting them in their bedding areas can pay huge dividends! I prefer there than anywhere else when the opportunity arises no matter what phase of the rut. I like creating my own rut at times in slow play mode, works like a charm on those lethargic bulls.
I am in Hunts camp, get close and see if they want to dance.
Ok you guys are right . I will now stop hunting at 10am. And then when can you start hunting again in the evening? 5? 6?
"Man, I wish killing elk was as easy as it is on the internet"
It is. Not sure what you must be doing wrong...
I've only killed one bull by sneaking in on them midday and shooting him in his bed. Typically I hang back and try to entice him out.....gives me a chance to check the wind. Most times I don't like to bump them out of their beds.
If the enticing doesn't work, being patient does....and they sometimes have a predictable exit route....or a daytime water source nearby.
I just strap on my CRISPI boots, cock and lock the sweetest new RAGE on my kickazz easy to tune carbon HOYT and shazzaaam. I don't care if its 2am or 2pm, something is gonna die!
Beendare, good point about slow playing a herd bull in bedding area. I do this when there's no cow in heat/estrus, I play on his curiosity! If the herd bull has a hot cow I then can be more aggressive & generally get him to commit in minutes. It's a matter of reading the situation & applying the magic, both tactics work well but tailored to the bulls attitude.
"...easy to tune carbon HOYT and shazzaaam."
Glad you finally came to your senses!!
They are hard to kill mid-day because I am curled up in a sunny spot and rarely hear them over the sound of my own snoring.
Glunt, how do you sleep soundly enough to snore with the damn black ants crawling across your face?
Get the wind right and kill him. Bulls bugle from their beds all the time.
Easy, I wait until my hunting buddy is asleep, eat my fruit cup and leave the empty container next to him. Ants don't bother me at all and it helps him stay awake in case a bull does bugle :^)
I dream about chasing elk all year so Im usually well rested by the time September rolls around and I hit the mountains. I don't like to take mid day naps, and I would rather take my chances pursuing a bugling mid day bull than have my trip and end not tried. I might have a different mindset if I had more time to hunt, but when you are on a 51 week off and 1 week on elk hunting schedule I go.
Where I am sometimes the wind never settles in the evening, but usually we start to get a solid direction about a half hour before sunset. Then a few minutes after the sun goes behind the Divide there is often a 180 degree reverse for 30 seconds that has saved many bulls.
We used to keep a wind indicator on a pole in front of our base camp but stopped many years ago after it was twisted around the pole by noon.
"I do this when there's no cow in heat/estrus"
How does one come to that conclusion...by curling back your upper lip, and taking a big old whiff?? ;^p
I can see I have a long way to go, before I become an "elk whisperer"...lol!
Jaqoumo, I've hunted along the divide in the north half of Colorado quite a bit, and have run into the same thing.
You get 3 maybe 4 hours of consistent wind in the a.m. and maybe an hour at night.
Trying to hunt in the middle of the day in that country seems futile. Get the wind in your favor they say. How the @#$% am i supposed to do that. ?? It don't blow the same way for more than ten seconds.
There's a big bench I like to prowl around on, and there's usually elk there. A big drainage opens up on it and drops a couple thousand feet to a river.
When the sun goes behind the ridge, air temp drops dramatically and it starts sucking air down that drainage. Id swear the downhill thermal Is moving 15 to 20 mph. Its like a wind tunnel. Freaky country out there.
Jeff, I know you know what to look for bud! Ha Ha! But for those curious you look for a bull being harassed by other satellites. The herd bull will show defensive action at this time as he keeps this hot cow in close proximity. The satellites will bugle to this group in an effort to pull the hot cow their way. The herd bull will resent this activity & warn them to stay back, this can go on for hours!
No hot cows no aggressive or competitive bugling action taking place. This is a bull that should be slow played for best results!
Look for a bull showing defensive action towards other bulls or towards your bugling & you will find there's a hot cow near by!
When I refer to slow playing a bull this is my ultimate goal when finessing any bull with no hot cows present that I have one with me! Cows make no sounds letting bulls know they're near breeding time, but the bulls do! Play that card & it's a game changer!
Hey Paul. I'm interested. What exactly do you mean when you say "slow playing a bull"? What are some of the things you employ when slow playing?
"Jaqoumo, I've hunted along the divide in the north half of Colorado quite a bit, and have run into the same thing."
My usual spot in WY is just a couple miles from the Divide as well. Same deal. Seems like the exact same hours/winds.
This was 10 miles from the divide. And at that time of day there, if you use your wind puffer 10 times, it will say 10 different direction.
The largest bull I have killed so far was a similar situation. We sat down for lunch. Bull starts bungling every so often from the same spot that we tgought was about 400yds away. We worked in slowly with each bugle. We thought we were about a 100 yds a way but miss judgedand jumped a cow out of her bed and then the bull stood up 40yds from me.
Funny thing is, the range five miles across the valley from us has consistent south-north wind most all day unless a storm coming. It is fairly straight, while our spots are in broken up basins that mix up the wind and thermals. Over there, you hear a bull and usually can get on him if he's on NF.
Except it's so overrun with hunters now that most of the elk are chased off the NF pretty quickly. Hunting the private over there can be an all day thing, but spendy
From time to time we all experience unpredictable winds. When winds are shifty it's suicide to sneak around his area for 30-45 minutes hoping you can slip in or he makes a mistake & wanders by you. I've found over the years when an opportunity arises quick action must take place & I need to get the bull to react NOW! I do this through calling/raking. When in close I'm not afraid to call, I think many hunters are so they hold back & sneak around because they feel if they call they will blow the elk out of there! I'm of the more positive mindset. I'm not wreckless about it but realize my time is short & I have less than a minute. It's a fine line but I'm also not too concerned about screwing up an encounter here & there, I'll find another bull if needed! In most cases I'm hunting dark timber not open country so calling is key to my success!
Undulating terrain equates to swirling winds. I had a guy always nagging about wind messing him up in New Mexico. I went to the same unit and didn’t have problem.
I think that the real problem was that he didn’t understand the wind and how it reacts to the contour of the land. Wind will go up one draw and over the ridge and wrap around the next. Constantly checking the wind is absolutely critical and yes some areas are virtually unhuntable. This normally is a good place for a big bull. He will use the wind perfectly most of the time. Every now and then we beat him at his own game. Sometimes you just have to back and try to connect when conditions are more in your favor.
Paul, honest question: Of you were hunting a specific bull and knew no one else was hunting him (or even in that area) would you still take those risks with unstable wind?
I don't have very much experience with thermals in the mountains. But it seems like the morning thermals going down are not nearly as strong as the evenings when they switch. In the evenings it seems like they roar downhill. When you feel that cold evening air it seems like the wind is almost blowing the thermals are going so hard
My elk 'area' is approx 150 sq miles. And Ive hunted for 29 years. In that area, I know only of ONE, and only ONE spot, that the thermals & wind is consistent - from morning thermals - daytime wind - to evening thermals.
Its so consistent that I dont even hunt it during the day, to keep the superb hunting mornings and evenings.
Good point Lou. I make these decisions on a risk assessment basis and depending on the elk involved, whether the location is key to continued success of my hunt if this situation blows up (out) on me, hunting pressure from other hunters, etc. I may be more risk averse in some situations than in others.
For example, I have a bull I have been working since early scouting season and this is the one bull I am focused upon. I am not going to be very risky. I have a bull in a bedding area central to my hunting area and if I blow him out I risk blowing out most, if not all, the elk in the hunting area forcing me to find somewhere else to hunt. I am not going to be very risky. I've managed to figure out where Lou's honey hole is and saw a beast of a bull bed down on the edge of his herd in dark timber. I'm going IN! Who cares if I blow them out of Lou's spot. LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!! (just kidding). Seriously, the only situation would be where the elk was in an area I did not plan to hunt again, alot of factors are in my favor other than the wind, its the last day of season, etc. then I may be more risky than otherwise. Can only think of a couple real life situations and only one worked out to my amazement although no one had the shot when the bull ran in at full speed with 2 cows on his tail, stopped almost on top of my shooter, then bolted right back out. It was fun though.
I hunt with my camp on my back. Hardly ever hunt the same place twice in one year . So I get where you guys back out trying to protect the elk. I do the same in those spots myself . But I like midday in Montana . Best of luck this year it’s getting close. Hope this is your year Jordan. You are due that’s for sure!!!
the wind is never consistent where I hunt, unless you’re in the main drainage. 7am last year and the wind was blowing every which direction! Kept having to jockey around and change directions as I moved in on this bull I was chasing. I finally killed him but boy I’m surprised he didn’t smell me!
A couple years ago we decided to hike into a new spot in the middle of the day. Dropped into a north slope that just looked awesome. It was very “elky”. Decided to bugle and after a few moments, a bull fired back only 150 yards away. My brother just screamed back at him and it became this crazy back and forth between them. My brother cut him off and that sealed it, he was coming. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my part. He was a nice 6x6.
Maybe he heard you and thought you were a cow. He was telling we are down here!
I’m a little further east of the divide. Where I’m at, you can set your clock by when the thermals switch in the mornings. They go down until 9 am, then they switch and go up. You can count on this until about 2pm. Obviously this goes out the window with an approaching front. After 2ish, they go every which way. They stay that way till darn near sundown. This is the very reason I started using a treestand for my evening hunts nearly 25yrs ago. Haven’t been busted by the wind since. I love my tree! ;-). This thread’s a perfect example of why there’s NEVER a “one size fits all” tactic.
Jaq, if the bull was that special, I would do my best to kill him in the morning & most likely in his bedding area. Tactic of choice would depend on him! Hot cow present & I'd be aggressive & go to him, no hot cow & little to no bugling I'd slow play him & have him come looking for me!
It's situational for sure.
I can't see myself messing with him midday, no reason to. If you had a certain encounter in mind you found yourself in then I could be more specific. Thanks!
Trophyhill (Dave) I just noticed your question, sorry for the delayed response! Slow Playing a bull takes patience & an understanding of elk behavior to use right method per bull, there's no one tactic that applies to every elk. I'll start a new thread on the variety of ways to slow play a bull. I'll describe different situations we hunters come across & how I choose a certain method by the bulls attitude/emotion. Thank you for asking!
Maybe teach your decoy to lip curl instead. Then you could whisper in it's ear and now you're an elk whisperer ;)
Last day of the hunt years ago, A partner went to the other side of the unit to retrieve a camera that had been up on a water hole for a week or so since we had last checked it. As we returned from the morning hunt around 10am, he was waiting with the camera. The pics showed a massive 7x8 hitting this water at 11:30 nearly every day, the last few. We loaded up like the Keystone cops and headed to the meadow with the wallow. When we arrived around 11, the meadow was full of cattle. We though, crap, it's a bust. There was 3 of us, so we triangulated the large meadow and I picked the downwind side of the meadow, tucked nicely behind a downed pine tree about 30 yards from the water, surrounded by moo cows. I am throwing pine cones at cows trying to shoo them off, to no avail. Like clockwork, 11:30 rolls around and we start hearing the screams coming in from the north. The cattle cleared the meadow like King Kong was coming in, and sure as heck he was. The bull must have left his cows bedded and he and another decent satellite came crashing toward the meadow, thirsty for a drink. Long story short, the bull came within 15 yards of my buddy in the trees on the upwind side of the meadow and as the bull was moving toward the meadow, he stuck a nice sized Aspen tree right in the sweet spot. All I saw was the massive tan body and rack blow by me a light speed. The plan was for everyone to let the bull get into the meadow before shooting (we crossed pinkies)...AH, the best laid plans of mice and men. When it's hot and dry, the elk need to drink, and the bulls will leave their cows to do it .
Good story. I bet you guys gave him some $hit about that one!
Ha Ha, I enjoyed your story as well! Those Aspen trees don't even make good soup!
My buddy center punched an aspen last year. 4” aspens stop arrows great! Bull was 12 yards. Tunnel vision in full effect when there’s a bull at the other end!