Moultrie Products
Do elk learn your bugle?
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Ucsdryder 16-Sep-19
wyobullshooter 16-Sep-19
Ucsdryder 16-Sep-19
Treeline 16-Sep-19
Buglmin 16-Sep-19
Ucsdryder 16-Sep-19
Franklin 16-Sep-19
GF 16-Sep-19
Irishman 16-Sep-19
Ermine 16-Sep-19
Ermine 16-Sep-19
Billyvanness 16-Sep-19
ELKMAN 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
cnelk 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
Scoot 17-Sep-19
Ucsdryder 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
Grey Ghost 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
TrapperKayak 17-Sep-19
Whocares 17-Sep-19
Whocares 17-Sep-19
wyobullshooter 17-Sep-19
Irishman 17-Sep-19
Bowsiteguy 19-Sep-19
Scrappy 19-Sep-19
COHOYTHUNTER 19-Sep-19
ElkNut1 19-Sep-19
elkmtngear 22-Sep-19
WapitiBob 22-Sep-19
From: Ucsdryder
16-Sep-19
Spent the weekend in the elk woods. It was a day for the ages, something you only hear about in stories. Anyway, more on that in a few months! My question is... do bulls learn your bugle? I called in a bull Saturday that should have died (2 arrows found the dirt, and another found a tree, hahaha), come Sunday he was in the same spot. I bugled my way into him. At 150 yards he straight RAN away. He bugled the whole way. The angriest, gnarliest bugles he could muster. I glassed him a mile away, still bugling. He left his cows. I’m thinking he remembered me from the night before? He never winded us, it got dark and I stopped calling and he finally left. The next day, when he ran off, everything was perfect. He didn’t see or smell us. Only thing I can think is that he remembered the night before and knew something wasn’t right.

16-Sep-19
I have zero “study” to back up my opinion, other than 34yrs of chasing these awesome critters, but elk are vocal animals and there’s no doubt in my mind they can identity individual bugles, whether made by human or elk. One reason I’m a firm believer in varying the pitch, volume, and cadence of my calls.

From: Ucsdryder
16-Sep-19
Basically my exact thoughts. Every elk sounds different, so I would assume they can tell the difference too. So here’s my follow up question. Has anybody experienced something similar when working the same bull multiple times?

From: Treeline
16-Sep-19
Yes. They will start to recognize you really quick. Changing up your bugles to sound like a different bull helps a lot! Hopefully you were able to close the deal on that bull! Looking forward to how it turns out!

From: Buglmin
16-Sep-19
Yes they do, that's why the go silent after a few days of getting hunted hard. And never call your way in.

From: Ucsdryder
16-Sep-19
Sorry, I should say, I bulged and he responded 300-400 yards away. Moved in and bulged again Thinking we were getting close and he was still 150 yards away and took off. Is that better? ;)

From: Franklin
16-Sep-19
I hunted with a guy a week ago that kept blowing the EXACT same bugle out of a "Power Bugle" all week long. All his cow chirps were exactly the same also. I`m no pro but I understand calling has to have emotion and no two are alike.

The worst bugles I ever heard were made by elk.

From: GF
16-Sep-19
“The worst bugles I ever heard were made by elk.”

No joke! One year I heard some Noob tootling away on a bugle; obviously “practicing” while in camp, and REALLY? This guy SUCKED! I finally decided to hike down to where he was and see if I could persuade him to knock it off...

And I stumbled into a whole herd.

Stupid spike!

From: Irishman
16-Sep-19
I've called in an elk, shot and missed, had it run off, called it in again, ran off again, called it in again. I don't give them very much credit in the brains department. I've also put an arrow through the heart of one bull, and called it back in again. I figure some days they just aren't in the mood to come in.

From: Ermine
16-Sep-19
I think elk know their bugles. They know other bulls and I think sometimes a “new” bull is strange to them. They know the difference

From: Ermine
16-Sep-19
I think elk know their bugles. They know other bulls and I think sometimes a “new” bull is strange to them. They know the difference

16-Sep-19
Last year bugled and glunked a young 5 pt in to 8 yds...double lunged him, bugled at him, he came coughing back in to 25 and sent one through his heart. Granted he was a young bull. I do think the older bulls are cautious with unfamiliar bugles. Last night I had 20 plus cows within 100 yds and they all sounded different. It was incredible to listen to.

From: ELKMAN
17-Sep-19
Elk absolutely learn bugles, and recognize each elk in their area. That is why mimicking often works so well.

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
'The next day, when he ran off, everything was perfect.' Try cow calling or using a different bugle if you have a suspicion that they are catching on to you. Or stay silent, rake trees instead. Elk vocalization is their language, and I am certain they know one 'elk talk' from another. A big old bull did not get big and old without good senses and an ability to recognize danger. I believe they can distinguish new ones that aren't familiar, and base their subsequent behavior on the first encounter they have with that 'new' one especially if it is recent.

From: cnelk
17-Sep-19
Yep. Thats why I carry about a dozen different mouth reeds in my pouch

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
Answer to your follow-up...Yes. It doesn't take more than one blown encounter for them to learn, in my experience. I figured that out early on in elk hunting, and I now carry several diaphragms and two grunt tubes, one much smaller and more compact. Usually I just use my voice though, so I can vary that. I've had elk hang up just out of range (the next day) that caught on to my bugle from the previous day. Its like me, an upstate NY'er with a 'back east' accent, trying to convince a Scot that I am Scottish when imitating their dialect. The old ones can tell and the kids would have no clue. (Kind of a weak analogy, eh?) However, I once 'bugled' at a hunter that encroached on me and blew a stalk I was making on a big bull, and I started messing with him after that. I wasn't happy that he screwed up my hunt, so I 'called' him over two miles through heavy timber all the way to the parking lot. He was a couple hundred yards behind me, and when the timber opened up, I had already reached the parking lot. I looked up at the edge of the timber and saw him up there looking down at me. I bugled at him a couple more times, and he got pissed and flipped me off for fooling him. That was fun! I bet he would have recognized my bugle the next day... :)

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
One last thing, bull elk hang together year after year in bachelor herds during the period outside the rut. When the rut kicks in, they start bugling and sparring. They know each other and each one's 'talk' from being around each other all their lives. They know when a new one from outside their unit is challenging them and if it turns out to be a human and they catch on, they are not going to forget that right away esp. if they got spooked. They are going to bark, too. They are going to remember the smells and the sounds that came from the source. Bugling should only be done to locate bulls IMO. Then other calming cow talk and chirps should be used to get them in close. If they bark, its over.

From: Scoot
17-Sep-19
"Bugling should only be done to locate bulls IMO."

Trapper, if that approach works for you, then more power to you! However, most of the bulls I've killed have been bugled in. I also think BigDan did alright by bugling too. I've cow called in some bulls to their death too, but getting in tight and challenging a bull when the situation calls for it can be extremely effective. It also happens to be the most adrenaline filled bunch of fun I've ever had!

From: Ucsdryder
17-Sep-19
So many ways to kill an elk. If you like cow calling, then go for it. If you like sitting in a tree, go for it. If you like spot and stalk, go for it. The bulls were responding to bugles and they were worked up. I called in multiple bulls all with bugles, some to mere feet this weekend. I know the critics love to come out, but it seemed like I was doing something right.

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
No criticism, just suggestions from my own experience. I have bugled in bulls too, quite a few times. I just prefer to cow call at big bulls because a herd bull that already has his cows is not ways interested in challenging another bull IME. They seem more interested in keeping their cows away from them. Earlier in the rut, they come running to a bugle more often. I am mainly talking about the WA bow season, that opens late in the rut and Roosevelt elk that don't bugle as often as Rockies. Most of my experiece is with them. Sorry if I sounded critical. You are out there doing it while I can only wish I was.

From: Grey Ghost
17-Sep-19
The effectiveness of bugling in a herd bull depends on how close you get to his cows before challenging him, in my experience. He may respond to a call from the opposite ridge, but he won’t leave his cows to investigate. If you slip into 150 yards or less to his herd, then challenge him, chances are good for a close encounter.

And, yes, they do learn your calls, IMO.

Matt

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
Hopefully in that situation you can slip in among the cows undetected. I've been busted more than once by those wary cows. That's the best part of the game, the rush of getting in on them unnoticed..

From: TrapperKayak
17-Sep-19
Hopefully in that situation you can slip in among the cows undetected. I've been busted more than once by those wary cows. That's the best part of the game, the rush of getting in on them unnoticed..

From: Whocares
17-Sep-19
I don't know if they recognize them or not. I've listened to bulls change they own calls on various encounters. You can change your bugling too. I will vary longer, shorter, higher squeals, deeper with more or less growling, chuckling etc. Often trying to match an engaged bull is good. And I often throw in raking, sometimes stopping the calling and just raking. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. And i use a variety of cow calls at times. Half the fun is trying to guess the bull's mood and play that. I used just cow calls sparingly to bring in a bull from about 400 yards on second day of season for my own successful shot at 25 yds . He responded with a single bugle each time I did one cow call and i moved toward him 80 or 100 yards twice as soon as he responded and then did one more cow call. So I believe you need to have a variety as opposed to a single sound.

While guiding now for the rest of season I've had lots of fantastic bull action with calling. And I expect these next two weeks to even be wilder. Fun!!

From: Whocares
17-Sep-19
Should have mentioned it's helpful to move around some , if possible, when engaging a bull rather than being rooted in one spot.

17-Sep-19
Well, since this thread got derailed awhile ago, I figured I'd add to the derailment. ;-)

Ucsdryder hit the nail on the head several posts back..."So many ways to kill an elk". Truer words were never spoken.

Whether you're an elk hunter or a carpenter, the more tools you have in the tool pouch, the more likely you are to succeed. We all have a tendency to fall back on what has worked in the past...be that mews, bugles, or no calling at all. The problem is when we accept as a given that what works for us, HAS to work for everyone else. Simply not true. All calls work some of the time, some calls work most of the time, but NO call works all of the time. When someone says call "x" is the "best", or tactic "y" is the "only" way to hunt, they not only insult others that know better (although unintentional), they also limit their own success potential.

The key is to to become proficient with ALL calls. The bigger key is knowing when to use each one. Again, that comes with the caveat "no call works all the time".

From: Irishman
17-Sep-19
I've killed two bulls by cow calling or having someone else cow call. However, I only use the cow call as a last resort, because I've never scared off elk with a bugle, but I have with a cow call. Now maybe I just am no good at cow calling, but I've had some really bad results from doing it. I agree with the others, so whatever you think works for you, do it. I prefer to bugle, because the most fun thing about elk hunting (IMO) is when you call in a pissed off herd bull, who gallops in to run you off. That screaming bugle they make when they have snapped and have had enough of you, and you know they are coming to get you. It hasn't happened that many times to me, but when it does, it's the most exciting thing about elk hunting.

Like Whocares, I've also had elk completely change the way they sound, making a wide variety of different noises while calling them in. And I know I don't sound the same every time I bugle even when I try to. I'm not even sure that I sound much like an elk - HA!, but it works so I don't care.

One night I was in a drainage with 3 bulls bugling, not far away, all within 100 yds. Then behind me, came in another hunter. The hunter I swore was using a turkey call to try bugling, it was the worst attempt at bugling I had ever heard. Then when the three bulls moved on, I walked towards the hunter that sounded terrible. I take a few steps towards him, and it turns out it's a bull that was coming in, and I just ran it off.

From: Bowsiteguy
19-Sep-19
I was with Ryder on that bull-a-thon. I was waiting behind (down the hill sitting on a horse because I only had a cow tag and didn’t want to screw things up). One of those bulls came down and checked me out, but my horse was asleep and I wasn’t moving, so he stared and stared, finally went back up to the cluster, and got shot AT again (Apparently they are hard to hit when you get excited and don’t look through the string peep). Had more fun than anything since I was a kid and we used to make deer drives in timber and heavy brush with sheep dogs and shoot at them out of big pine trees. I gave the gun I had then to Ryder last weekend. I only had it for 67 years.

From: Scrappy
19-Sep-19
Something no one has mentioned, it all depends on how worked up a bull is in the first place.

From: COHOYTHUNTER
19-Sep-19
Some guys are focused on the 'perfect' bugle. But I the sometimes having an imperfect bugle is more beneficial. The other night, in my tent, I was serinated by 6 different bulls. How did I know it was 6 different bulls, well aside from locations, they all sounded a little bit different.. tone, pitch, volume, etc. So just like people, elk have different voices too

From: ElkNut1
19-Sep-19
Yes, elk will learn your bugle, no question about it. Give them 3 days & they generally forget it. Problem is other hunters may work them in the meantime & put them on high alert to any bugle other than from actual bulls that they are familiar with.

Your first encounter is your best chance, use it wisely or back out if the time isn't right!

ElkNut/Paul

From: elkmtngear
22-Sep-19
Bulls in an area hang out all Summer together, and then with the magic of September...they start to get on each others' nerves.

I believe they know exactly who is who, in a particular drainage. When there is a "newcomer", they all know it. It can actually work to your advantage initially, because of curiousity. But once they are educated, no bueno!

I recognized 3 different bulls this Season in the same area, on multiple Days, just by their bugles. In fact, they were bedded in almost the exact same place on multiple occasions, which further accurately identified them.

From: WapitiBob
22-Sep-19
I've bugled multiple Bulls that wouldn't move and then their buddy bugles and off they go, side by side.

  • Sitka Gear