Contributors to this thread:
I have used a mouth diaphragm for over forty years when I am turkey hunting. However, when I am bugling, I use this dinosaur of a tube that has the diaphragm built into the end of the tube. Since it has definitely seen its better days, I am trying to decide what I am going to replace it with. An "external" diaphragm and separate bugle tube or another one just like the one that I will be replacing. I would like to hear from fellow Bowsiters..... I am assuming that the VAST majority of guys use the external diaphragm and separate bugle tube, but would like to understand why - what are the advantages?
I use a combination of diaphragms and latex mouth piece. I have a Rocky Mountain bugle tube designed to use mouth diaphragms for the tube. I took the mouthpiece off a Monster Bugle tube I believe it's called and cut the end off the Rocky Mountain tube just enough so the mouthpiece from the monster bugle will slide on. For that mouth piece you can buy latex bands in white. gray, or black to slip on the mouth piece. Great sounds and chuckles etc. And I pull the mouth piece of and use several diaphragms to make the sounds also. The variety or changing the sounds a little are important. If I have a good responsive bull I'll stay with the same. Or sometimes not! Have to kind of guess what the mood is or what the bull is thinking! And that's a good trick! Try a few systems and see what works. I've found this to be good. And as is always stated, don't over do it. Often, raking branches or trees is better. Again - the mood! Good luck with that! Kinda like courting and spooning a woman - like I really remember that!
Every elk sound can be made with a diaphragm and bugle tube. A fixed latex mouthpiece limits what you can say. That said, I use my voice and a tube more often than not anymore. Way too many idiots marching around the woods, bugling all day, sounding basically the same. Elk are figuring that out.
Here's 2 pictures of the same tube I use 2 different ways.
Posted the pics about as good as I can call elk I guess1
I’ve always used a diaphragm with a separate bugle tube. I used a small, flexible tube for over 30 years but switched to a Phelps un-Rival-ed tube a couple years ago. At only 17 1/2”, it’s still compact but I like the added resonance I get with it. As Jaq stated, I can make every elk vocalization with the diaphragm that’s always in my mouth, so never had a need or desire to use anything else.
Jake, hands down the Mouth Reed & Bugle tube is the ticket & most authentic. In a pinch the reed can be used hands free to bring an elk closer or stop them with bow drawn if need be.
Start with a single reed with a user friendly soft latex, it will offer you all the sounds bulls & cows make. I personally like reeds with a dome & so do most callers of elk. 1/2" frames are the most popular, consider them.
Phelps has a reed called the Maverick, Born & Raised has one called the Land Of The Free, both are great reeds for newer callers.
When practicing your elk sounds don't just practice mews & bugles. Understand the message sent with each sound your practicing. This will help put the right emotion behind it since you know what they're wanting or asking. This will escalate your understanding & perfecting awesome results in close encounters.
And get ElkNut’s app. Best out there for learning elk calls and meaning/emotion.
I also use a separate diaphragm and bugle tube because of the versatility and ability to make the most realistic sounds. I highly doubt that you can get the same range and quality of sounds with a bugle with an attached reed.
Elk diaphragms are like boots, what fits and works for one guy may not work at all for the next. For example Elknut likes the Phelps Maverick and says it's good for beginners but the Maverick does not work at all for me and I don't like it. However, the Phelps Amp green and Amp gray are favorites with the green being my go-to.
Also, the Rocky Mountain All-Star (I believe one of Corey Jacobsen's favorites) does not work for me.
You might have to try several before you find the right one.
I used to really like the Primos Imperial plate (red) and Ivory Plate (white) but I experienced quality issues with them after the call company was sold.
OK, here's how it works. As a newer caller to the game a hunter will need a more user friendly reed! A very soft latex is key to see positive results. This is why I recommended those two. The White Ivory Plate from Primos is also another good choice as is the Mellow Yellow from Bugling Bull Game Calls.
Personally I like the Phelps Pink Signature series by Jason as one of the best reeds I've ever used but it's too stiff a latex for a beginner so to speak user. Not good for Jake with little to no experience.
Jake, for a bugle tube there are many choices, I have 8 here. For you; don't worry about which is the best as you are not in that category as of yet. One of the best midsize bugles I've ever seen & used is the Milehighnote game call, it's smaller but man it packs a sweet punch, I used it last year & was very impressed! Other good choices but this one is worth consideration.
Like Mike I do like the Unleashed Bugle from Phelps but I feel this smaller version may be a better fit for you at this time! Good luck!
I have to trim every kind of diaphragm I use - especially the back of it
Yes, mouth Reed and bugle tube are king. I do have a couple bite and blow cow calls I throw out there once in a while just for shits and grins but I always have a Reed in my mouth. Phelps and Born and Raised call co have great quality reeds. Have tried the Rocky Mountain stuff but they just don’t work for me. Buy several of each brand and use what works for you.
Ditch the bugle. Get a hoochie momma and go call and kill huge bulls. ;-)
I should also mention that I have had reasonably good success with my fixed or attached reed over the years, it's just that my repertoire has always seemed limited. However, in my defense, I will also say that in many cases, I believe that most elk hunters (as well as turkey hunters) tend to call WAY too much. I have probably had as much success just raking a tree (especially when I got close), as I have had by bugling. Regardless, I still want to expand my elk vernacular....I may understand what each call means to a bull....but achieving that sound is a different story. Stringgunner, If you hear things go bump in the night tonight, it's the spirit of Big Dan coming to haunt you....LOL
Lol. so true. I still remember the video of him taking and chucking that cow call down the hill.
I think the advice all written above is spot on. I prefer Phelps pink and the Maverick reeds. I carry to or three and use them 98% of the time for all elk noises and usually one bite and blow call simply out of habit I think.
As was mentioned above already, the fixed latex bugle tubes are less dynamic in volume and sound. My boys, just now coming of hunting age (12 & 13) are both learning on reeds. It’s easier to pick up than some make it out to be. Lots of truck practice.
Another mouth diaphragm - bugle tube user here. Reason - tried both back when I was learning to bugle and chuckle. For me personally, the diaphragm - bugle tube option was easier to use and was much more versatile. Had years of experience using a diaphragm for turkey hunting...so that may have had something to with the results?
I will second Elknut's app (mine are DVDs... circa 2003). My first elk hunt in 2002, I called in zero bulls using the diaphragm - bugle tube. Forgive me Bigdan, but I cow called my first bull in to 17 yards on that hunt. Bought Elknut's DVDs after that hunt. My next elk hunt was 2004 in the same area and I called 14 bulls (most of them legal bulls) into bow range in eleven days. Definitely made a believer out of me!
I've settled on the Phelps Dragon Slayer for every type of elk sound. Fits my palate perfectly.
Power Bugle for me and I've called in many hunters and bulls with it. Sounds very loud, too loud my spouse like to tell me but it calls in elk. I have 2, cut one shorter to sound a little smaller and use a different band in the shorter tube, white band for the unmodified tube.
Wytex, I think its the Power Bugle I referred to, not the monster bugle that I took the mouth piece from. That the one that uses the latex bands? Couldn't remember the name. Yes can be very loud and strong or quiet and even cow sounds.
I have the power bugle, I usually take the mouth piece off and use a diaphragm, but the bands work too. I've not been able to chuckle or cow call with the band and mouth piece. When nothing is answering what I'm using I switch to the other
Bob chuckles will work on a Power bugle but cow calls don't sound quite right to me through it. I play some musical instruments so the Power Bugle was easier to learn the different sounds for me. Spouse does the diaphragm calls and makes great cow and bull talk with them, but I've had success on bulls he hasn't been able to get to answer. Had a nice bull answering and coming in one year when he said get set up and let me call, one sound and that bull went the other way. We both learned a lesson that day. He does use a Primos with the blue reeds on occasion and it sounds ok, the smaller tubes sound like one of those old carnival whistles- not bull elk.
I like Corey Jacobson’s calls. I learned to use a mouth diaphragm call from a Wayne Carleton tape back in the 80’s. Lol His were the only diaphragm calls for elk back then. I would record myself then listen to it over and over comparing them to real elk vocalizations.
mouth diaphragm and a short length of old shop vac hose covered in camo tape for me. I can make all the calls I need with one diaphragm in my mouth. change them up to get better sound. I also feel them make a more natural sounding call.
I would be willing to bet that more bulls have been killed with the Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls (Formerly Bugling Bull) Raging Bull, brown diaphram than any other. It's my go to call every year with a Rocky Mountain Tube. I just don't see any reason to change, if it isn't broke don't go trying to fix it. I do mix in the Mellow Yellow now and again. If I am doing a cow/calf type of sequence my call for years has been the woods wise hyper hot, it's been copied pretty hard by the colorful cow calls of one of the call makers listed above.
Enjoy all the variations you can do with a diaphram and a tube and you won't go back to the external stuff.
Medicineman, good thread that got me thinking after reading these posts from probably the best elk callers anywhere. Mouth diaphragms with a tube aside (which may be the best all around solution for the seasoned elk hunter ) but which bugle might be best for the novice bugler such as my young offspring. I am inclined toward having them use the Berry Thunder Bugle or the Abe and Son (if still sold) because these two always seemed the most realistic sounding to me that I still use. Some of the newer bugles listed may be a better fit. At this stage, have you made any decision regarding a change for you? Badbull
I use the Thunder Bugle the most. It is not because it is the best at everything, but because it does all I want it to. I do not call a lot. I use it to make one short bugle before I climb into my tree stand in the AM and again in the PM. Over the last 12 years I have killed elk about every season. Four of those elk (2 bulls and 2 cows) came in to precisely where I called from. They were looking for the bull they heard. The interesting part is that it takes them two hours to show up. I learned to get into the right spot before I bugle as the elk will hang up and turn back if they can view your call location and not see a bull.
ElkNut1 's Link
Paul, I saw the Mile High Note tubes for sale at a small sporting goods store in CO last year. They looked to be good quality, so when I realized this year that I lost my Unrivaled I ordered one… it’s a nice tube! I’m surprised they don’t have a bigger following…
“ One of the best midsize bugles I've ever seen & used is the Milehighnote game call, it's smaller but man it packs a sweet punch, I used it last year & was very impressed! Other good choices but this one is worth ”
Gusto, I agree, if this link works you can hear the sound that it's capable of, it's the same one you just picked up. This video is on my Instagram page, it's the only clip I have.
I'm sure you'll enjoy your tube & in time it will get around for it's size & sound quality.
Yeah I’m really impressed with that Mile High tube so far. I ordered some of their reeds too and will give them a try to see if I like em. Normally I like the Phelps pink or grey. I can blow the Phelps green ok, and the black one too . The Phelps red and the Phelps white are hard for me. None of the Rocky Mtn calls work well for me.
Yes sir, I have a few of those Phelps Reeds as well, no doubt my favorite is his Pink Signature series reed. The Maverick would be 2nd & the rest are good as well, hard to go wrong with their reeds.