Elk calling, particularly bugling, is the most dramatic way to elk hunt. It has all the appeal of turkey calling with the added adrenaline rush of calling a massively-antlered, brush-ripping trophy bull right up to you.
The bugle is the loudest and most dramatic elk call. The high-pitched, keening whistle of a mature bull has real ear appeal, whether it is made by you or, even better, by a big bull in the black timber, answering you.
However, bugling can be overdone and often is. Many hunters bugle all the time and the bulls get both tired and wary of it. Also, it can drive sub-dominant bulls away and cause harem bosses to take their cows and leave.
Cow calling is far more subtle and subdued. The mews and chirps made by cow elk (bulls make these same sounds but less frequently) are “confidence calls” that assure all is well. Most elk, including bulls, will investigate cow calls — even after the bugling season is over.
Field Care For Elk Meat
Once you’ve called in and harvested your elk, your job is not over. Now you are working against the clock, temperature and other conditions to preserve the prime meat.
Considering the size of elk, on-the-spot butchering is the most common option. The goal is two fold. You want to get the carcass cooled quickly and get it cut up into manageable chunks for easy transport. Some skin the elk immediately, because warm skin comes off easier. They then use the skin, flesh side up as a clean surface on which to lay chunks of meat. Others gut and quarter with the skin left on to protect the meat, in its natural wrapper, during transport.
Either way, quick cooling is essential to top meat quality. However, in the West, a shady spot often offers cool air and breezes even on a warm day. It’s important to get the meat out of the sun and protect it from insects with meat bags. Then begin the task of packing it out.
Brad Harris is the originator of the deer grunt call, and is widely recognized as one of the top game callers in the country. In addition, Brad serves as public relations director for Lohman Corporation, makers of game calls and other hunting accessories.
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