When to Call Elk—or Not!

posted on October 2, 2014
mehall_ah2015_fs.jpg (51)

When bowhunting elk, knowing when not to call is just as important as knowing when to call. What I do depends on the given scenario and whether I simply want to get a branch-antlered bull or I’d like a shot at the herd bull.

Cameraman Rex Summerfield and I were just debating when to call on Saturday while sitting all day in a Primos Double Bull blind at a Colorado waterhole filming for “Phil Phillips Unleashed.” Early that morning, I wanted to skip calling and try stalking the herd bull, but this particular property held hundreds of elk--and many sets of elk eyes that could too easily pick up two people and a videocam. So we stayed in the blind, hoping a cow would drag in a big bull or that one of the nice satellite bulls caught on the Moultrie and Cuddeback trail-cams would get thirsty.

By mid-morning, we’d tried everything from bugles to cow and calf calls. Bulls screamed from their beds, but they weren’t budging, not even to check out the super whiny cow calls we made to mimic the sound of a cow being harassed by a bull. By evening, the bulls began screaming again and moved closer. While it was tempting to call, we remained silent because the action was picking up on its own. Two young bulls came in and sparred right in front of us then two more came in for a drink. Another bugling bull was on its way so we never made a peep and let the elk do what they wanted to do. Two minutes later, a 6X6 came in and I dropped him, fittingly, with an Easton FMJ at 27 yards on the 27th. Phil came to check things out just in time to be in a photo.

Moral of the story: Sometimes the best call is no call at all if you're where the elk want to be.


Local Legends Butch And Harold Lead
Local Legends Butch And Harold Lead

Local Legends: Why Butch and Harold Still Prowl the Big Woods

The experience of two Vermont hunters shows it’s never too late to find a new hunting partner.

Non-Toxic Shot Roundup

Contributor Mike Roux discusses the ins and outs of non-toxic shot with his audience.

First Look: Garmin GPSMAP 67 and eTrex SE Handheld GPS Units

Whether you want a high-tech hunting device that’s loaded with sophisticated features or simply need an easy-to-use GPS to avoid getting lost in the woods, Garmin’s new handhelds have you covered.

Henry Repeating Arms Donates $25,000 to Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever

Henry Repeating Arms has announced a donation of $25,000 to Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever as part of its $1 million silver anniversary pledge and the company’s commitment to safeguarding America’s outdoors and hunting traditions.

Hardware: CVA Cascade XT

The new XT (X-Treme) is CVA’s precision-oriented rifle in the company’s popular Cascade rifle series, and boasts several features that make it an ideal multipurpose hunting rifle. 

Recipe: Antelope Kofta Kebab

Contributor Brad Fenson finds a good game replacement for lamb with his antelope kofta kebabs.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.