Elk are not unique among mammals in the way they vocalize. Their calls pass through two chambers: the nasal cavity and oral cavity; same as humans, and same as other big-game animals that humans hunt. Instead, it’s Duel Game Calls’ Rolling Thunder Bugle that’s unique among game calls — its committed to precisely mimic an elk’s vocalization with its patented Dual Chamber Technology.
When vocalizing, an elk’s oral cavity does most of the heavy lifting, but the nasal cavity adds its own nuance to what ultimately becomes audible. The folks at Duel Game Calls boil it down to this: use any single-chamber game call, and you’ll essentially sound like you’re calling with a cold.
When hunting elk country, “absolute realism” is critical to blending in
One thing you’ll hear hunters talk about is how elk — especially older, mature bulls — can become “call-wise.” This hunting situation underscores the critical value of authentic-sounding calls. It also substantiates the effort Duel Game Calls has made to do everything possible to mimic vocalizations.
So, to fully understand the value of an elk call’s features, isn’t it helpful to understand the animal’s level of sophistication in detecting a clumsy, two-legged poser (aka, the elk hunter) who’s faking it, but clearly not making it? What happens — biologically or instinctively — that gives older elk this ability to become “call-wise?”
To unpack this a little further, I talked it over with Bowhunting World editor Jace Bauserman. He’s a Colorado native and avid elk hunter.
“There’s no real scientific data that helps us understand why one bull may become call shy and another won’t,” he said. “But as the elk rut starts and progresses, those bulls are bugling too — basically locator and challenge bugles. They’re looking to find out who’s running around in the landscape they’re occupying.”
According to Bauserman, when you think about all the vocalization, including at night when elk are going crazy bugling back and forth, that’s a lot conversation. Because of that, those elk begin to recognize who’s who and who’s in close proximity.
“In a hunting situation, as an elk gets closer, the animal might hear something in a hunter’s bugle that says, ‘something’s not right,’” Bauserman said. “Most of the time, though, it’s sight and smell that’ll get you busted. But here’s the thing: once they’ve heard that bugle and have associated it with your scent, they’ll file it away, and that’s it.”
Experimenting with an elk call: proper lip placement and the use of air pressure
Ease-of-use is a key feature of the Rolling Thunder Stretchback Bugle. Remember the Dual Chamber Technology that separates this tube call from its competitors? Well, this feature rivals that in terms of measuring product value.
“This call takes all of about five minutes to pick up on,” Bauserman said.
Bauserman broke down the steps required to use an elk call effectively. To make that basic locator bugle, lip placement is critical. At the top of the Rolling Thunder Stretchback Bugle where the reed sits, there’s a flat spot. That’s for the top-lip position, and the bottom lip actually goes against the reed itself.
Once the placement is right, this is where a hunter should start experimenting. This step is also where guys and gals grow frustrated. You have to play around with air-pressure. Too much, and you’ll produce a high-pitched frequency that starts breaking. But this rhythmic, less-defined part of the process is easy to navigate when using the Rolling Thunder. This call does not take a whole lot of pressure or air to work.
“Once you start putting pressure on that reed with your bottom lip, you’ll start thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got this,’” Bauserman said. “You’ll be able to tell when you hit it. It’s just a good, crisp bugle.”
What you need to know
Bauserman noted other key takeaways that make this elk call user-friendly and effective. Here are the highlights:
The StretchTone Tube
In transport and use, it’s a very quiet call, meaning it won’t spook the game you’re after. Often, when you stretch a call tube, you’ll hear that movement, which you don’t want in a hunting situation. With this call, there is no sound when the tube is stretched or rotated. There’s also soundless freedom when calling in the front and back because the tube is so quiet and because it bends so that hunters are not required to turn or move their bodies to project the sound in different directions.
Quiet until ready to use
You can tell this call was designed by guys who have been in hunting situations and understand that small things that can quickly become big things in the wrong moment. There’s a cap that goes over the end of the tube. This protects the latex reed area. It’s very soft and, with this detail and several others, you can see that Duel Game Calls has committed itself to making a quiet call — quiet, at least, until it’s ready to use. Another nice thing is the dual chambers. They’re lined with a fabric that prevents the tubes from banging together.
The call has two, heavy-duty, grooved O-rings. Once you get your call pitch-perfect and it’s sounding like you want it to, you can set the ring in those notches and it will not move.
Compact and convenient
For a tube call, it’s compact, and it comes with a nylon strap that goes around the shoulder so that it’s out of the way when you need it to be.
The Rolling Thunder 17″ Stretchback Bugle is available in Mossy Oak Mountain Country and is also offered at a 21-inch length. Duel Game Calls also manufactures the Autumn Thunder Standard Bugle and the Mountain Thunder Outfitter Bugle. Both bugles are sold in 17-inch and 21-inch lengths.