By Ralph Ramos
Stir up the bulls with lots of girl talk.
Bulls are greedy lovers in search of as many cows as they can find. Whereas a bugle may cause a herd bull to gather his gals and take off, those same bulls are enticed by cow and calf sounds. A bull may think there are a couple cows he’s missed on the round-up of his harem. Your job is to mimic those sounds using multiple elk tones to spark his curiosity and play to his emotions.
I like to imitate a loud lead cow mewing followed with cow/calf chirping sounds. These chirps will get bulls to bugle and give up their location. When they do, I check wind direction and decide the likely direction the bull will approach. I try to close the gap toward the bull quickly and setup.
Once set up, I cow call excessively, simulating varied tones of cow talk while mimicking several elk conversations from a herd. Start with soft sounding cow/calf calls leading to louder aggressive lead cow calls. Shuffle different mouth calls in and out of your mouth to produce the language of near and far sounds of mingling elk in the herd, simulating a herd of cows feeding with calves.
Try to vocalize one loud, cow-in-heat estrous moaning sound using a hyper open reed cow call. During this type of set up, do not make the cow in heat whine more than two times in a three to four minute period. Many hunters over call with this hyper heat call. Real cows in estrous don’t whine over and over again. Elk converse excessively when feeding throughout the herd, usually with a single cow in heat whining every once in awhile during the rut.
Always create many sounds of multiple feeding cows and calves. An effective caller needs to carry different sounding elk calls. The more different cow sounds a caller simulates, the better chance of calling in bugling bulls. Don’t hold back; blow on your calls, soft calls and loud calls. Don’t worry that you’re calling too much. Work the bull. Once you start with excessive bursts of cow talk, don’t stop until the bull comes in. Start with a diaphragm call in your mouth, shuffle in a bugle tube, swap to an open reed call. Above all, don’t hesitate. Keep calling.
Keep these calls accessible by using a lanyard around your neck to carry them.
Ralph Ramos lives in New Mexico where he is a middle school principal and professional hunting guide.