Archery Elk Hunting - Media Tactics vs Reality

FoodIsMemories

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 26, 2021
Messages
1,080
Location
SW MT
Yotes right there. When they are under 50 and bugle when you didn’t know they were there it’s enough to make you forget you’re hunting them and hit the deck. Had this happen my first archery elk hunt. Bugled in a silent bull last year though midday. I moved when I shouldn’t have to find a better view and he was standing at the tree line watching me.. part of solo hunting/calling. It can be done. I’m thankful I was fortunate enough to figure out a diaphragm call very very quickly and can replicate any sound, some that aren’t elk- with an elk call. Learning the language is a different story and something you’ll have to find your confidence in. I can speak alright Spanish but I wouldn’t move to Mexico just yet. That’s just me. Just remember, God gave us two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we speak. Good luck this season bud, happy hunting
 

tomengineer

Active member
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
258
I have never bugled in a bull in my life, that being said I always rely heavly on cow calls. I once called in a bull from 200 yards to about 15 yards using a simple exposed reed cow call and I wasn't wearing any camo! I would get as far back in as the elk are and try to stalk in close before I even made a peep. From there it is up to the situation as to how it turns out. Even the most educated and call shy elk in the world turns into an idiot that time of year. Another thing to look at is moon phase, if it is nice and bright the elk will be more active at night so if you can figure out where they are going to in the daytime ambush hunting is a great way to do it. The first time you hear a bull screaming, it is impressive. When he is close to you it is terrifying, you can literally feel the vibration.
Yes I’m super pumped to hear them. The moon will be full when we are there so that should help in locating them. I hadn’t considered the moon being an aid to the ambush tactic. Thanks for that.
 

Mallardsx2

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
1,384
If you relied on ambushing primarily in the units I hunt then you would go hungry.....just saying.

I make a lot of noise when I am in the woods. I don't just sneak around like a phantom blowing a cow call...which is COMPLETLEY unnatural.
 

GrantK

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
219
Location
Western CO
Totally situation dependent, I've killed bulls where I didn't touch a call for the duration of the hunt and I've killed bulls where I had to change out reeds in the middle of the session I was calling so much, for me it is a "read the room" situation, if the elk are going wild you can pretty much do no wrong, and sometimes you really need to go hard to stand out, if the woods are dead quiet and you are blowing a bugle every 30 seconds they are gonna know something is up...

When I do call I rarely use a cow call, and honestly, I rarely bugle more than a couple of times on successful call in's, get close, like really close, wait for the bull to bugle, cut him off, rake a tree drop your bugle tube and get ready to shoot...

I have also had good success hanging out near wallows or bedding areas and doing a very slow cow call sequence (like 4 hours long slow) in these cases usually a satellite bull sneaks in and tries to get your wind, set up to prevent the circle, if you must be in the woods all day scenting things up this is one of the less counterproductive things you can be doing...

I always try to avoid sounding like all the other hunters out there, if I hear 3 curious cow calls followed by a bugle, followed by a mix of both, stopping after 3 minutes and then starting again 5 minutes later the exact same way I know it's someone who has watched too many elk 101 videos, and I assume the elk can tell as well...
 

Mudranger1

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2010
Messages
2,767
I always try to avoid sounding like all the other hunters out there, if I hear 3 curious cow calls followed by a bugle, followed by a mix of both, stopping after 3 minutes and then starting again 5 minutes later the exact same way I know it's someone who has watched too many elk 101 videos, and I assume the elk can tell as well...
Damnit if the elk are watching the youtubes I'm really up shits creek!!! But I agree with your style. Not sure about your comment if you have to be in the woods all day...where else would we be? 😁
 

GrantK

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
219
Location
Western CO
Damnit if the elk are watching the youtubes I'm really up shits creek!!! But I agree with your style. Not sure about your comment if you have to be in the woods all day...where else would we be? 😁
ha, my point is humans are really, really predictable, I've heard the same call sequence out of virtually every human I have heard in the woods, if I can tell it's the standard human call sequence I bet the elk can too...

Personal preference during archery season, based on a lot of time in the elk woods is to hunt hard until the wind changes and elk are in bed, then back out for midday...
Typically once the wind changes the elk are in a spot where you don't have a good approach, trying to stay too close risks blowing out the whole herd, better in my opinion to stay well clear and save those elk for a time when you have a better chance of actually getting a shot...a lot of my evening spots are in completely different drainages than morning spots due to prevailing wind...

clearly, there are exceptions, I rifle hunt all day because I'm usually glassing long ways and the wind is barely relevant, I've killed more than a few bulls at noon with a bow, but all when there was a compelling reason to change up the usual plan, find a wallow that is being used and actually has a good midday wind? for sure stay, or find the rare midday bull walking and looking for cows? go kill him, but don't just linger in the woods all day where you might be spooking elk you don't even know are there because you don't want to hike to a spot where you won't disturb elk...
 

Rzrbk

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
546
It sounds like you plan on hunting solo. I'd recommend spending time thinking about estimating distance while a huge bull is focused in your direction and covering ground. It's very hard to move, much less use a range finder and still have the bull at the same location by the time you're able to get your bow in firing position. Also, you're usually in a spot where you haven't had time to mark distances or it's open field with no landmarks. I also think the size of the elk throws off your perspective based on the scale of the animal on the landscape, especially if you aren't used to being around elk sized animals. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 

Talk2elk

Active member
Joined
Aug 21, 2018
Messages
233
Location
Anaconda, MT
Just get out and start hunting. Try all of the tactics you are studying; they all can work if the situation is right. Nothing beats experience. Getting the wind right is the only thing you must have in your favor. Find water and north facing slopes. Never get behind them if they are moving as in the morning to bed. Good luck.
 

Shortbowshot

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
232
In my humble opinion it's woodsmanship that kills whatever critter you're after. The above reference to wind is super important. I've killed somewhere around 20 elk with archery and while a few came raging in to calls for the most part I consider it a chess match. The learning curve with elk hunting is not to move when it's his move.
That being said my favorite tactic is to show up with an hour of darkness in which to move. If you can get comfortable moving slowly without a light you can normally maneuver into a pretty good position to take advantage of that first 30 min of light. Generally you will have stable winds for the first bit. Figure out what the elk are doing and be there.
Good luck!
 

Duckdude10

New member
Joined
Aug 2, 2022
Messages
16
I'm heading to CO in September (10-17) and have been consuming every YouTube video, book, podcast etc. I can find to educate myself on elk behavior and elk hunting during that time of the year. I've heard many people recommend covering lots of ground and calling often in order to locate bulls. I can't tell if this is to make better content on YouTube or if this is really the way an average hunter does it. I've read a small minority that advise less is more in terms of calling, especially in OTC units. This will be my first elk hunt but I'm a relatively experienced archery white-tail hunter and have hunted mule deer with a rifle in ID. I'm on the east coast and have never heard a live elk bugle to give you an idea of the depth (lack of) of my field experience with elk behavior. I am not really comfortable relying on calling so heavily but am practicing so I can if that is the consensus best method. My first instinct is to find food and bedding sources and attempt to ambush them or spot and stalk them rather than rely on calls. My questions are:

1) How much are you calling when hunting a pressured archery unit? Is it for location purposes or only once you've heard a bugle you believe to be an animal and not another hunter?
2) Am I way off base here in thinking that ambush/spot and stalk is more effective for a beginner than calling? Obviously that's highly terrain dependent but if calling is what works then I'll go with it.
3) If you were going to try to ambush them in morning or evening would an interface between conifer and deciduous forests be a good place to try to do that? I understand open meadows are also potential food sources. Somewhere near their beds on north facing slopes?
4) Send GPS coordinates for places you've got them in the past to save me some learning time. (kidding don't assault me in the comments)

I would appreciate some perspective on this from folks with experience in OTC units especially. I'm treating this whole trip as a learning exercise and good times with friends in the mountains but I'm thinking I've consumed so much elk hunting media there might be a disconnect between what I expect and the reality of this type of hunt.

Thanks,
Tom
Call if they aren’t talking. Shut up when they are. That is my rule of thumb. However this is depending on the area as well. If a bull is alone and calling, then we bugle back to get him fired up and looking for a fight
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
102,506
Messages
1,653,083
Members
32,021
Latest member
cfeist
Top