Contributors to this thread:
Here's my scenario; Since I can't hear worth a darn I almost extensively set wallows, trails leading to wallows and or trails leading to or from bedding and feeding areas. I always go the first 10 days of season.
I normally set down low until the currents begin the updraft, then move up above my chosen location. If the wind begins to swirl then it's on to a different location or back to camp till later in the afternoon.
I would like to hear what others do when setting in a situation such as mine. Do you bugle and/or cow call occasionally? If so how often? Also curious about the time of the day - do you call at first light, wait until later in the morning. What about your afternoon sets?
I'm not talking about when you actually see or hear the elk - I'm talking cold calling. thanks, Bob
Not what you asked but have you considered hearing aids? My hearing has diminished over the years and if gets to the point I'm not hearing elk bugles, I'm getting aids. I hear (no pun intended) they're amazing these days.
I`m assuming you are calling to lure them into your position....or are you locating? It can`t hurt to give a couple of "cold calls" to let elk in the area know something is at the wallow. The type of call would be the question.....a contact type, non-aggressive call might be the ticket early on.
There are a lot better callers than me that might jump in.
Have you considered a tree stand? I only use mine in the evenings, but that’s by choice due to the fickle winds. My cold calling consists strictly of mews, and it works like a charm. I’ve sat in the same tree for 20+ yrs, and have killed 8-9 elk out of it, and passed up many more. There’s only been one year that I wasn’t presented a shot.
When I’ve sat on wallows or water, I don’t call. Im letting the attraction of the wallow brings them in.
Many times a bull will bugle before he approaches the wallow to see if anything is there. He don’t want his ass kicked. Resist the urge to reply. Let them come on in by themselves
Totally agree with Wyo if you hear one. I occasionally do very few cow mews and only a spike bugle if any. Don't want them to think anything to fight with of size is around wallow. The other thing I have heard Elknut talk about is the "stick splash". Have not tried it enough to suggest one way or the other.
I've heard that if you sit over a wallow and bugle that other bulls won't come in, that they bugle when they are approaching, and if they get an answer they don't come to the wallow. I answered a bull from a wallow once, that I thought was coming in, and he never showed up.
The wallow/meadow I set, is in the evening only and usually only the last 45-60 minutes when the cool currents flows downward. I try to figure the direction the elk might come and then set up in the shadows downwind. I might cow and calf call a few times during the last few minutes, but never bugle. This bull came by but I was not there. DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
this bull came by but I was not there.
this bull came by but I was not there.
In my experience, cold calling is mostly worthless and counter-productive. If elk aren't talking, cold calling only alerts them. I only call when I hear a call. And I always try to match whatever elk vocalization I hear, including the occasional sneeze they make while feeding.
I call occasionally no matter what.......but I get bored .
Midwest yes, I've been wearing hearing aids for the past 15 years. My current ones are 4 years old, so I'm due again. Even with them, I still can not hear the high pitch bugle, nor the mews from the cows, sometimes I can hear the chuckle. For me to hear the bugle I have to be about 150 yards.
Thanks, everyone for the suggestions.
Interesting discussion. I’ll we sitting by wallows in Sooth Colo in Mid Sept. on hearing aids. I’m on my second set. First set went six years. The make a big difference.
I got programmable hearing aids two years ago because I don't here higher pitches. Before that I could here a moose grunt before anybody else, but if I heard an elk bugle, that meant he was in bow range. I'm doing my first dedicated elk hunt in early September and have been getting my hearing aids dialed into the "Elk Channel".
Sorry can't help you with the actual question.
Dang, I feel for you guys! My son has a doctorate in audiology and says there's no way I should be able to hear a bugle with my high range hearing loss and tinnitus. Not only do I hear them, I tell others where they came from when they start off in the wrong direction. Just one example God does perform Miracles! ;-)
Nothing more frustrating - or funny - than 2 guys hear a bugle and point in opposite directions. :)
Ain’t it a fact, Brad. What makes it even funnier is when it’s the youngsters heading in the wrong direction! ;-)
Yup, my "high decibel" hearing loss is 97% in left ear and 89% in right - that should about sum it up as far as not hearing the high pitch squeals.
Paul's (Elknut1) PlayBook gives a great explanation on the when's and where's to use the blind calling sequences. Sitting wallows isn't a scenario I would cold call.
However I will contradict what Grey Ghost posted because it does work in the correct situation. I've called in a bunch in heavily pressured CO OTC units using blind cold calling. Elk of all ages, sizes and gender......
I have had very little luck with cold calling but I still do - but I agree - very little luck.
I've almost always been busted when cold calling, elk sure can sneak up on you when they want to!
Good point Jeff! I rarely cold call in a static position when I’m on the ground. On the rare occasions I have, the bulls have come in silent every time. On the flip side, I’ve rarely had an elk come in silent while in my treestand. Their appearance is pre-announced by either mews or bugles nearly every time.
Similar experiences for me, Rob...bulls seem to especially want to announce their presence before they come in.
I actually killed a bull once, by answering back with a spike squeal, over a small wallow...he came in and stopped right in front of the stand, stomping his foot, and blowing steam!
Tried it since with less than optimum results...so I usually just remain silent these days.
Love when a plan comes together! ;-)
Cold calling on the ground, moving into the thermals each morning is my bread and butter.
I’ll set up and call 15-20 mins and if nothing comes in, I’m moving again another 300-400yds.
I have used the same calling circuits for years, know which way the elk will come from and about how long it take them to arrive.
Hell, over the years I've killed 3 elk standing by the same tree stump.
Elk will be where elk have been.
When elk aren’t talking? Cold calling all day long if necessary. For those of you who fail miserably at cold calling so no longer do it, do you stay in camp when elk aren’t talking?
Bob, Cold Calling can certainly be an effective tool to consider. # 1 make sure your Setup site is where elk are during your time of day not where they were & when elk approach your calling spot they cannot see the source until in your effective range. -- In Dark Timber areas away from most hunting pressure elk can bed & feed in a small area, in these areas they are within earshot of most calling all day long. (my favorite spots) These areas can be as close as a 1/2 mile from dirt roads so no need to go in deep, just find those quaint undetected hidey holes most hunters drive by because there's no trail or road there!
In other more open terrain elk can have feeding areas 1/2 mile to miles away from where they bed. Know where these two areas are so you are where they are. The bedding areas are best since elk are in them around 85% of daylight hours. Setup near your chosen spot near bedding (150 - 200 yards is good) & choose your Calling Sequence that's best for you!
As far as what Calling Sequence to choose, well that depends on what you're hunting? If after Any Elk a Cold Calling routine of 2-3 cows & a small semi aggressive raking bull with low volume pants & groans will produce mostly cows, spikes & rags first. -- If after mainly bulls in the 5-6 point range then go to a Slow Play Sequence, this pretty much excludes the unwanted elk & has high odds of bringing in bulls first as you play on their Instinct To Breed! This is my goto sequence these days when bulls are fairly quiet. (no rutting going on) It's a great bull producer! Choose your poison & be confident in your calling.
If I know where they are bedded I often set up where a bull will need to appear in range to see the source of the calling. Then I sound like a small herd of 3-4 cows and calves with a small bull. Some social calls, an occasional bull squeal, popping sticks. I want to create the illusion of a new herd moving into the area.
I sometimes set up with an Elk Mountain butt slip a Montana butt and/or Ultimate Predator. Then after I make a calling sequence I'll move to a predetermined spot downwind and to the uphill side where I expect a bull to come from. In thick timber, I like to set up opposite a trail. Then I still toss a few rocks or sticks over toward where I originally called from.
Curiosity will take over and the herd bull has to come see who it is. Smaller bulls come too. Occasionally I'll get a bugle from them but usually the most vocalization is maybe a little whine or a few huffs. Most often they tiptoe in silently and take their time.
There are a LOT of guys calling in northern CO, and by the end of the first week of the season almost every bull has been fooled by somebody at least once, busted them, and is wary. So they do a lot of sneaking and don't make a lot of noise in daylight. I hunt solo and the majority of bulls I cold-call in silently don't present a shot. But I'm careful to try to set up in places where if one comes in and loses interest he will walk away and not smell me.
Elk are the same as all other antlered animals....you can kill a big bull without knowing how to call. Is it an advantage....of course, but it`s not necessary. Many think it`s the only way to hunt elk because that`s what they see in videos and TV. Most can actually do more damage than good, especially as Jaq stated with call wise elk.
Slaya, to answer your question, I don't cold call all day because the wind swirls constantly in our Divide basins between about 9:30 a.m. and maybe 6 pm. So I scout away from the elk and only hunt when the wind is right. I'm often hunting a specific bull and don't want to risk blowing him into another county.
There are a lot of people in our area who ignore the wind and wander around calling all day. They are the ones educating the elk. I hope to someday find an area where I can hunt all day. So far, in 44 years of bowhunting elk in NoCo and scouting all summer (I live in the middle of elk country) I have not found that place. If you have such a place, you are very lucky.