Elk make noise. Elk herds make lots of noise. Breaking the silence when calling elk might be the difference between a bull hanging up at 100 yards and one standing at 15 yards.
If you’ve ever followed behind a herd of elk in September then you’ve heard the sounds of breaking branches and rustling grass and leaves as elk pull sustenance from whatever food source is available.
An elk hunting guide named Dillon recently told the story of a day last season when he rode a horse into a wilderness camp to check on the guide working there. The guide at that camp met Dillon along the trail and told him that he knew there was a bull nearby but he just couldn’t seem to get his hunters in front of it. Just as he walked out of sight and Dillon began moving with his pack string a six point bull emerged from the timber. The sound of walking mules had called that bull to within range after five days of elk calling had failed to produce.
“One of the biggest mistakes early season elk hunters make is being too quiet” says Tom Henderson owner and operator of Bitterroot Outfitters. Tom has seen elk hang up at the silence that comes with hunters sitting still as bulls approach.
The best cow calling in the world might fail to get a bull in range if the bull can’t hear the sound of stomping hooves and the soft snapping of vegetation.
Elk hunting and deer hunting are two very different things. The habits of sitting still and not moving are often developed while deer hunting but those skills don’t translate well during September elk hunting.
So what does this mean for the early season elk hunter? If a bull hangs up just out of range and won’t seem to come any closer making some noise by walking away or lightly snapping a few branches and tearing up a handful of grass to mimic the sounds of other elk may be the “call” you need to bring him into range.
Remember, calling elk is ultimately just an imitation of elk sounds – and elk make noise. Elk herds make lots of noise. Don’t make the silent mistake.