I’ve found that “excessive” cow talk, combined with immature-sounding, non-intimidating bugles is the preferred conversation for many of today’s “educated” bull elk. This technique can be most effective when working a bull to your favor during the rut, when most average males will normally buy into the sweet voice of females. My experience in the field has proven elk are greedy lovers in search of many cows for their harem. As a result, they can be enticed with lots of syrupy-sweet cow talk. When excessive cow calling is used properly, your odds of success will increase.
I hunt with a minimum of eight types of elk-hunting calls for excessive calling. I use diaphragm mouth calls, open reed hyper-lip calls, bite-and-blow calls, compact bugle tubes, varied bugle tube mouthpieces, and, of course, the large bugle tube with the resonator sound chamber.
Locating bulls with either loud cow talk or bugles bellowing in canyons is what makes bulls reveal their location. Immediately after a bull responds, check wind direction, look for the path of least resistance for the bull, and move in quickly for the setup.
I prefer cow calling excessively, using various types of calls to entice the bull within bow range. To imitate varied tones of cow talk, I start with diaphragm cow calling, shuffling the bugle tube’s open end in and out in front of my mouth. This shuffle produces the varied volume, near-and-far sounds of mingling cows in the herd, simulating the noises of cows feeding with calves. I try to vocalize one loud estrous cow elk sound, with the hyper-open reed cow call.
During this type of calling, I suggest not making the cow-in-heat whine more than two times in a six-minute period—don’t overuse this hyper-heat call. Real cows in estrus don’t whine over and over again. Wild elk converse when feeding throughout the herd, with a single cow in heat normally whining every once in a while during the rut. Create many sounds of multiple feeding cows and calves. The more variety of cow sounds you produce, the better your chance of calling in a love-crazed bull.
Once you begin the excessive bursts of cow talk, don’t stop until the bull comes in. I continuously use different calls, never letting up, making the many different sounds of cows. Loud calls and soft calls—all calls work! I place these calls right in front of me as I kneel on the ground and perform like a one-man orchestra. These calls need to be accessible and within reach once you begin calling. Keep working the bull!