Elk calls you like and elk calls to stay away from

JustCarr

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2019
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39
Going on an archery elk hunt in Alberta next september. With the thousands of options out there I am sure there are tons of good and bad calls.

Never called before and I hope I don't really have to. But being a rut hunt I would like to have a half decent call and hopefully, if I start practicing soon, have half decent calling skills.

So the question is : which calls do you like and which calls should I stay away from?

Thanks
 

bowhuntrben

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Joined
May 1, 2017
Messages
71
Location
Minnesota
I like the primos cow girl. I’m no expert elk hunter but I find this one super easy to use and make sounds that at least I think sound good
 

Wapiti1

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Sep 18, 2017
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Indiana
Rocky Mountain, and Carlton are what I have used for years. Primos are fine as well. Keep it simple and don't get the gimmick stuff.

Jeremy
 

Swede

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Mar 24, 2012
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Warren Oregon
They all work if you know how to use them and when to hold off. I read and hear people rant about the Hoochie Mama, but it works. Recognize your elk sounds are supposed to be saying something. You will have much better success if what you say to the elk makes sense to them and is what they should be hearing. If what you are saying sounds like random blat, you can keep tooting your horn, but will get no where.
Remember Set-Up is as important as what you say. Know where and how to set-up. For that I would get Elknut's Playbook and get one of his DVD's If you can get him on the phone, he will tell you all you need to know, and save yourself the cost of the DVD. lol
 

trophyhill

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Feb 27, 2012
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954
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Tijeras NM
Diaphragms, I've widdled everything down to Phelps and Carlton's, with the brown triple by Carlton's being my go to call as far as diaphragms go. The Carlton's external reeds are great too. I have an old Temptress that still brings em in too.
 

Swede

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Mar 24, 2012
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294
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Warren Oregon
Folks like different calls and that is great.
I was out working in the forest one October morning when I heard a bull bugle. I pulled out a short strip of plastic surveyor's tape and stretched it tight and made a cow call by blowing across it. The bull answered back every time. I even made a few stinker sounds trying to make it work well.
 

trophyhill

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Feb 27, 2012
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954
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Tijeras NM
Rocky Mountain, and Carlton are what I have used for years. Primos are fine as well. Keep it simple and don't get the gimmick stuff.

Jeremy
Funny you mention gimmick. That's what I thought when I showed up to help my buddy call for a friend of his a few years ago.

My buddy shows up with what looked like a dogs fetch toy. Ya know the ones where the dog bites down on and it squeaks? It was a Bone Collector squeeze call. Between the two of us, his squeeze toy and my Carlton's calls, we called a nice 5 point bull in to bow range, and Robert killed him with his muzzleloader. I still laugh when I think about that call. But it got er done!
 
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5MilesBack

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Feb 27, 2012
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Colorado Springs
There is no "one call fits all". There are plenty of them that are horrible for me, but many really seem to like. At the same time the ones I really like aren't all that popular with most. So it takes some trial and error to figure it all out, and what fits you best.
 

ElkNut1

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Feb 25, 2012
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Location
Idaho
If considering a mouth reed, choose wisely for best results! Mouth reeds can be awesome as a single reed is capable of imitating all Bugles & Cow Talk!

When choosing a mouth reed which is best for us? Many times a reed is recommended to us to try because a buddy does very well with his. Maybe he has a large palate so he uses the wider version so we try it & hate it! (grin) Next thing you know is we feel reeds aren't for us because we assume all reeds are the same! This is the # 1 mistake, make sure to choose the right reed for you! Reeds come in 1/2" & 5/8" models, many hunters are unaware of this. Most hunters need a 1/2" reed to fit them best. If you have what's considered a normal to narrow palate you will need a 1/2" reed, the 5/8" reed will feel over-sized to your mouth which can lead to frustration causing ones to gag & spit without experiencing any advancement no matter how hard they try. 5/8" reeds are for folks with wide or larger pallets. This is the most overlooked feature when choosing a mouth reed especially for newer users. Newer hunters should start with single reeds as they are the most user friendly.

If a Primos, choose the White Ivory Plate

If Phelps Gamecalls, choose the White or Black Amp

If Rocky Mountain Calls, choose the Mellow Yellow

ElkNut/Paul
 

roosiebull

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Aug 23, 2014
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291
Location
oregon coast
I don't know of any "bad" calls, just calls that I like, and calls I don't care for, and that pretty much boils down to how well I can use certain calls, and how authentic they sound with me using them.... all about confidence.

I will say, I do avoid the super popular more generic calls, especially the fail proof ones that every rookie will have because they are easy to use. right or wrong, I don't like them because I know there are a lot of people using those calls, and a lot of elk blown out with that associated generic sound.


your strategy and approach is more important than what the calls sound like (within reason of course) I know some good hunters who still swear by hootchie mamas, but I cannot bring myself to use them.

it wasn't long ago before I could use a diaphragm without gagging, and I never had a problem working bulls with external reed calls. diaphragms are way more versatile, but don't think you can't call elk with external reed calls, they still work fine.

you are going to have to buy and try some different calls to see what works for you... start with a few diaphragms, and if you can blow them well, then you can do anything you need with them.... if not, you'll have to buy a few different styles of calls and see what works for you.

with anything, confidence in what you're doing is priceless, start practicing now.
 

wmr89

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Feb 26, 2020
Messages
13
Location
Utah
Phelp's pink and carlton's Brown. But you really have to try them for yourself. I have tried some other calls that people love and not been able to make a sound.
 

justin84

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Apr 12, 2019
Messages
115
Location
Wisconsin
I bought the Primos set of 4 and I get the best sounds out of the red one. I think like others have said though, this is going to vary from person to person.
 

bakcountry

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Joined
Jun 15, 2016
Messages
12
If you’re able to use diaphragms I’ve found Phelps have been to easiest to use, they also make great external reed cow calls. Whatever you end up going with just practice a lot so you’re comfortable making those main elk sounds; social cow/calf talk, location bugle, challenge bugle, etc..
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
69
Location
Idaho Panhandle
As stated above, mouth reeds really are the best for versatility and hands free action. The downside is finding one that fits in your mouth that you can use well. I can use a Primos Hyper Plate or Ivory Plate really well, but put some other reed in my mouth and it sounds like someone threw a squirrel in a blender.

For external calls, I really, really like the Cow Talk, although I think it has as mush of a learning curve as a mouth reed. For a bugle, I really like the Berry Thunder Bugle with the different reeds.
 

stdeb11

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Messages
12
Location
Denver, CO
If you plan to stick with elk hunting for a long time, I think it's worth the time to learn a diaphragm call. There's plenty of time to find one that fits you and practice. The range of sounds you can make is way larger than other types, especially for the size....it did take me a bit to come around to that. So if not, a primos hyper lip or cow girl is a great option. The cow girl is super easy to use and it's worked surprisingly well for me.
 
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