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Hiking with bow and bugle

Five Mistakes Hunters Make When Bugling for Elk

Bugle Like a Boss: How to Avoid Elk Calling Fails

Calling in a bull elk is the dream of every hunter venturing into the wild. But before you unleash your inner opera singer, there are a few crucial things to remember. Because let's face it, nobody wants to scare off elk with a symphony of squawks and sputters that sound like a wounded goose.

Mistake #1: The One-Man Band: You pull out your fancy elk call and proceed to unleash every sound it can muster – cow calls, calf meows, dominance growls, the whole shebang. Elk aren't impressed by a cacophony of confusion. Use calls strategically, mimicking specific situations (like a lonely cow call to lure a bull). A good rule of thumb is to only make sounds you're currently hearing. 

Mistake #2: The Trumpeter: You blow that call with all your might, sure to reach every elk within a ten-mile radius. Wrong. Elk have excellent hearing, and an overly aggressive bugle can sound like a threat, sending them packing. Use moderate volume and focus on realistic tones over volume.

Mistake #3: The Broken Record: You keep blasting the same bugle call over and over, like a stuck record in the elk woods. Elk are smart – they'll recognize a repetitive call as unnatural. Vary your call sequences, incorporate pauses, and mimic natural elk communication patterns.

Mistake #4: Location, Location, Location: You plop down in the middle of a meadow and unleash your bugle call. Think again. Elk use terrain for cover and bugle strategically. Find elk bedding areas, wind funnels, or other spots where your call can travel realistically. Also, elk can pinpoint your calling location within a few feet. Just because you can't see them, doesn't mean they can't see you.

Mistake #5: Bobbleheading: Just because one elk is answering doesn't mean others aren't around silently. Be on the lookout for satellite bulls that may be silent. Even herd bulls may approach your calling in silence if they're curious. Bottom line, is always be ready.

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