Bugles back to cow estrus calls, but keeps moseying up the drainage...Suggestions?

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
224
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Hi All,

Ok, so after being the king of finding sh$t, the last two mornings finally got into some bugling elk and would love some ideas to hep seal the deal.

Both mornings soon after first light, 1-2 elk would respond to my cow soft estrus calls, then amplified them when they kept responding. Both mornings kept the wind perfect, coming from below with the thermals going downhill. However, each time it felt like they were steadily moseying up the draw, slowing down to invite me to their party, bugling and chuckling.

They were a ways off at first, allowing me to get closer, but they seem like they just kept moving though responding to my calls the whole time until they were faint and well beyond my legs' reach.

Any ideas on strategy?

I thought about trying to get out earlier in the dark to get ahead of where they've been the last two days, but then I'd risk getting winded. After not getting them to come in to just the cow sounds, when he was about 100-200 yards away I tried a challenge bugle, but no luck. Stayed silent a little and then bugled back a little further away.

Did find 2 well used wallows in the area I was following them, one in the darker timber and another up the hill on an open hillside meadow before entering the dense timber going up to the ridgetop.

Sorry, rookie here, but getting closer.

Thx
 

tuffcrk14

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
55
Try lost calf calls? I’ve had reasonable success with this strategy, but mostly with lone bulls. The nurturing/herd instinct it would trigger would possibly get the cows if not the bull to come check it out. Just be aware it can call in more than elk if you decide to try it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Hoodie

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
498
Location
Oregon Cascades
I usually don't cow call to a bull who already has cows. They probably aren't moving away from you so much as just going where they were going to go regardless, bed in this case.

Where I hunt I don't get excited about hearing elk vocalizations in the morning for this exact reason. They will almost always just keep going where they were going anyway. They expect the elk requesting a response (you) to come to them. So I try not to bugle too much at bulls that are walking away. I figure they expect a bull who is a legitimate threat to be able to catch up to them. Me bugling is like a tiny guy yelling at you from across the parking lot "HEY COME FIGHT ME LIKE A MAN, I'M GOING TO STEAL YOUR GIRLFRIEND", but he stays on the other end of the parking lot. At first you may be alarmed, but eventually you're just going to tune him out when you realize he isn't serious.

This late in the month I prefer to get right on top of them once they're bedded (after 9am or so) and bugle aggressively. If I get a response I move in immediately. 95% of the distance being covered is me moving to the bull. 9/10 times the bull will meet you before you get to his cows. Once they've bedded down the bulls can't easily round them up and push them out.

This is very effective on Roosevelts, but probably has a lot to do with their distribution, small herd size, and the habitat. They are very territorial. All my hunting for Rockies has been with a rifle in the desert, so YMMV.
 

Laramie

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2020
Messages
1,317
Gain elevation earlier- sidehill intercept to avoid being winded. Chasing elk uphill was tiring in my 20s, miserable in my 30s and now in my late 40s... just no.
 

Bearsears

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2019
Messages
217
Location
Colorado
Id try locating them and then stop calling until you are within 100 yards or even less preferably. My guess is they are telling you to come to them but they are already with cows that they dont want to leave. The cows are probably going to a bedding area. If you can locate them, close the distance as quick as possible (meaning dont stop to relocate until you feel like they are really close) then once you are, cow call again and if he responds cut him off immeadiatly with a challenge. Sometimes they get really pissed when another bull shows up out of nowhere and cuts them off mid bugle. However, this time of year you might be more successful just stalking in on him as opposed to calling him in because they are getting really protective of the cows they have and dont want to leave them.
 
OP
L

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
224
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Thanks all. Good to hear there's a relative consensus along the lines of what I was thinking, that they're likely moseying along as they'd normally do heading up to their bedding area.

I just need to consider seeing if I can sidehill or get ahead of them without getting winded, or hustle up 1000ft. or so where they looked to be headed to bed.

Like the idea of going after them in their bedding area, but could feel the thermals change mid-morning, so might come at them from another access point on the other side of the ridge.

Heck, I was just glad to finally precisely locate a bull, and appreciate the tips.

s
 

5MilesBack

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
12,283
Location
Colorado Springs
Where I hunt I don't get excited about hearing elk vocalizations in the morning for this exact reason. They will almost always just keep going where they were going anyway. They expect the elk requesting a response (you) to come to them. So I try not to bugle too much at bulls that are walking away. I figure they expect a bull who is a legitimate threat to be able to catch up to them. Me bugling is like a tiny guy yelling at you from across the parking lot "HEY COME FIGHT ME LIKE A MAN, I'M GOING TO STEAL YOUR GIRLFRIEND", but he stays on the other end of the parking lot. At first you may be alarmed, but eventually you're just going to tune him out when you realize he isn't serious.
That's why you run after them. Get in their wheelhouse and now you're a threat. That's how I shot the bull in my avatar. When they don't come to me........I go to them. I actually prefer that.
 

541hunter

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2016
Messages
355
I had a bull do something very similar a few years ago. I believe it was because he had cows and he didn’t want to leave them for one unknown. Bugles didn’t work either. I ended up following the herd until they reached their bedding area. I then backed out, ate breakfast and waited for the thermals to switch. About 1pm, I moved back in and started some very light cow calling 300 ish yards away as I slowly closed the distance to about 100 maybe a bit less. At that point I went silent for a a bit and then came back with a few louder whines. Almost immediately he bugled back at me. I let one more whine out and stopped. I could hear him coming in and didn’t want to give my position away anymore than I had. He came to 40 yards and I had my hands on him an hour later.
 
OP
L

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
224
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
Damn, so you guys are going to make me work these 51 year old, semi-in-shape legs to their limit...running after elk up hill, not to mention the packout. Oh, how I was dreamin' this morning of the quick kill less than a mile from base camp. Well, it'll keep me feeling pretty young as I do.
 

Hoodie

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
498
Location
Oregon Cascades
That's why you run after them. Get in their wheelhouse and now you're a threat. That's how I shot the bull in my avatar. When they don't come to me........I go to them. I actually prefer that.

On the coast there is no running after them. But I'm sure you could where the OP is hunting (if it's Montana).

I kid you not, two weeks ago I had a bull bugle at me 60-75 yards away (never saw even part of him). His cows were between us at 40. I was standing on a road. It was 8 in the morning and they were moving between feeding and bedding so I had low hopes.

As they started moving away I ran as fast as I could after them. 3-4 minutes later had made it 50 yards or so. They were 150-200 yards away by that point. Bull never stopped responding to my bugles as he walked out of my life.

The next week I had that bull at 13 yards for three to four minutes and couldn't see anything but his antlers and his eyeballs.

The nice thing is you don't have to worry about camo because elk can't see you until they're at 4 yards.
 

corey006

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2019
Messages
135
Run after him. There's a reason why I always say "the only time I run all year is during elk season".
This ...

No other bulls bugling?

He allready has a cow or 2.

When he sounds off run 250 yards towards him.

Give him a challenge bugle, IF he responds...CUT him off and bugle right over top of him.

Then possible close distance again OR he may sound like hes coming....

May need to advance on him again.
 

2five7

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2017
Messages
456
I usually don't cow call to a bull who already has cows. They probably aren't moving away from you so much as just going where they were going to go regardless, bed in this case.

Where I hunt I don't get excited about hearing elk vocalizations in the morning for this exact reason. They will almost always just keep going where they were going anyway. They expect the elk requesting a response (you) to come to them. So I try not to bugle too much at bulls that are walking away. I figure they expect a bull who is a legitimate threat to be able to catch up to them. Me bugling is like a tiny guy yelling at you from across the parking lot "HEY COME FIGHT ME LIKE A MAN, I'M GOING TO STEAL YOUR GIRLFRIEND", but he stays on the other end of the parking lot. At first you may be alarmed, but eventually you're just going to tune him out when you realize he isn't serious.

This late in the month I prefer to get right on top of them once they're bedded (after 9am or so) and bugle aggressively. If I get a response I move in immediately. 95% of the distance being covered is me moving to the bull. 9/10 times the bull will meet you before you get to his cows. Once they've bedded down the bulls can't easily round them up and push them out.

This is very effective on Roosevelts, but probably has a lot to do with their distribution, small herd size, and the habitat. They are very territorial. All my hunting for Rockies has been with a rifle in the desert, so YMMV.
Excellent advice right here! Works on Rockies in the mountains also.
 

AaronMColeman

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2018
Messages
694
Location
Wyoming
When they responded what were they saying? Location bugles, round up bugles, short little grunts to get their cows moving?

I've experienced this a lot, and I think many times it's just the bulls saying "we're over here...if you want to join us" at first. Then my constant calling gets them to move and say "now we are over here...if you want to join us...I think I heard something I don't like so I moved the herd". What works best for me is to get a location on the elk, work the wind for at least 10-15 min with no calling, then call again to see if they're in the same spot. Over calling gets the bulls to move the herd I think. They you are always the same distance away no matter how far you hike.

Once you're close enough that's when I assess whether a cow part, a few more quick locator cow calls, or if I need to start blasting them with bugles. but the approach is almost always the same...slow and steady, a call every 10-15 min to make sure I'm on the right path.
 
OP
L

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
224
Location
Bitterroot Valley, MT
When they responded what were they saying? Location bugles, round up bugles, short little grunts to get their cows moving?
I'm still a bit ignorant on the nuances of the different bugles, but definitely mixed in location bugles as well as chuckles.

I was also getting the feeling of being invited to join them, but that they're on the way to bedding spot. When I would respond quickly with cow calls to his bugles he stayed close with repeated bugles of his own. When I waited in between and started hoofing it closer to them, all of a sudden his next bugle would be a good bit up the mountain.

So I wondered if maybe his cows were on the move while he hung back to flirt and try to get more honies to join him. When I went silent he caught up with his ladies.

That all said, hopefully they're in the same pattern when I can next make it back there, hopefully in a couple days.

Any idea how often they stick to their general patterns?
 
Top