I compiled a list of what the hunting community considers the best elk calls available.
Nothing beats hearing the guttural bugle of a bull elk.
A few weeks ago, before the massive Pole Creek fire ripped through the area I hunt elk, I was up doing a bit of fishing and scouting. I fly fished my way up to a meadow, timing it so I arrived at dusk. I pulled my binos out of my pack and glassed the edges of the meadow, looking for movement between the thick pines.
I didn’t see anything, but I heard one loud bugle ring out. Not so close as to be ear-splitting, but close enough I figured I’d see the animal soon. The elk bugled again, and a few cows chirped back in response. Trying to get its attention, I did my best imitation of a cow elk.
I didn’t have a call and it sounded like crap, but this bull was rutty enough that he roared back. It continued for a few minutes before my terrible cow chirps either spooked him or he moved on to a real cow. Either way, it was the first chance I’d had to be in the midst of bugling elk this year, and it got me excited for my upcoming cow and spike hunts.
Last year, I hunted spike with a good spotting scope and binos. I had a shot on one and saw a few others, but I didn’t close the deal. After this recent bugling session, though, I started to consider bringing a few calls along on the hunt. Here in Utah, our cow and spike elk rifle hunts run during the general season, around October 6-18. The rut is usually done then, but the elk are still active enough that they’re vocal in the early and late hours of the day.
Of course, this means I have to buy a bunch of new toys now. How can I carry a call on the hunt if I don’t trust it completely? Kidding aside, I had absolutely no idea where to start when looking for calls. I’ve never called elk in – or other big game – because that’s just not how I was taught to hunt. I’m content to glass ridges and faces, looking for places elk should be. Calling elk is a new ballgame, but one I’m stoked to try out this hunting season.
With that in mind, I compiled a list of what the hunting community considers the best elk calls available. From asking the pros here on Guidefitter to my hunting buddies, and readings tons of articles, these are the calls that consistently top the list as must-haves.
No matter which brand of elk call you choose, it’s important to master your technique. The more realistic you sound, the better your chances of calling a bull into range.
This call showed up consistently in magazine and online articles, as well as in conversations with guides. The draw here is that the Primos Hoochie Pack Call gives you a lightweight option for simulating an entire herd of elk. The call is light enough to carry around your neck, but versatile enough that you can successfully imitate cow or calf elk.
A herd is a more attractive target for bull elk because there’s more opportunity for a mate than just a lone cow. If you know some big bulls are around but can’t glass them, this call might be able to pull them to you.
This call was recommended by the guides on Guidefitter, and those are recommendations I take seriously. From what I’ve gathered, these calls are pretty easy to learn to use. They’re meant to be used in conjunction with a diaphragm call and give you the ability to generate a wider range of tones in your bugle.
Obviously, these calls are made to imitate rutting bulls. These are best used when there’s already a fair amount of bugling taking place; adding a new one to the mix adds a new target for the big bull of the herd to come bully.
Another highly-recommended call from guides and hunting buddies of mine are wooden calls. One person, in response to a question I posted on Guidefitter, said that wooden calls are the most realistic, consistent products for imitating cow elk.
Trinity calls, in particular, come recommended from bowhunting magazines. Bowhunters generally get to hunt the peak of the rut and, by nature of their weapons, get closer and more personal with elk than any rifle hunter usually does. I’ll take their recommended calls any day of the week.
These calls were recommended by users across social media – not necessarily all guides or outfitters. But they’re hunters – and that makes their opinions just as valid.
Obviously, there are plenty of other call brands on the market, but these three rose to the top of the pack in all discussions I’ve had on the subject over the past few weeks. I’m still not sure which call I plan on throwing in my pack. To be safe, I better take all three. After all, you can never have enough gear to help outwit wild animals, right?