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Tactics to Draw Out the Elk Herd Bull

Beat the odds by using advanced tactics to draw out the elk herd bull.

The elk bull did not get to be king of his domain by being easily misled or naive. There’s a reason he made it this far.

Pulling this big old bull away from his cows and outside his turf is a feat that few hunters master and with very low odds of success. Sometimes you just get plain lucky. Sometimes the herd bull just gets plain careless. Neither happens very often.

If you are going to tilt the odds, you have to use smart techniques at just the right time.

Lure Him In

The best way to draw out the elk herd bull is to hunt with a partner that is patient and skilled with elk calls. Together, you must figure out what the elk wants and antagonize the bull into doing something out of the ordinary. If you are perceived as a threat to him or to his harem, the herd bull may seek you out to run you off or show you who’s boss. If the herd bull is responding to cow mews, let him hear them. If bugles of a certain type such as chuckles or grunts get his attention, then stick with them.

Ideally, your partner is as much as 100 yards away while you wait at an ambush point. You cannot let the elk see where the call is coming from at a distance, so your partner needs to stay in the brush or timber. If there is a break or a small opening downwind of the calling hunter, that is a good place to set up a decoy or multiple decoys. By using two or more decoys in a small opening the herd bull can be led to believe that either some of his cows are abandoning him or that some new ladies would like to join him if he provides the right encouragement.

If you get the herd bull’s attention, you need to keep it. One way to do this is to have your caller use bull elk sounds as if he is trying to lure a cow elk from the herd back to him. As the shooter, you use soft cow calls and estrus buzz or an excited cow call as if you want to stay with the herd bull but you’re heart is torn.

If the elk herd bull starts moving your way or paying close attention, the caller should use sporadic excited bull calls, raking and stomping the ground to imitate a satellite bull that thinks he finally has some cows more interested in him than the herd bull. Elk scents are effective to get the herd bulls attention too.

Depending on the time of season, cow estrus, cow urine or buck scent may be appropriate.

Make a Move

If the elk herd bull will not come to you, you must go to him. This is a difficult task that requires a lot of patience and split-second decision making.

One way to accomplish this is to get out in the dark of early morning and get nearby where you believe the herd bull to be. You want to develop a vocal relationship with him by using submissive bull sounds while it is still dark.

If the herd bull is talkative, this “conversation” will allow you to get closer little by little. Eventually, your hunting partner will remain behind you and continue the conversation while you get inside the elk herd bull’s circle of trust. You must be extremely cognizant of your scent and the wind direction as you get closer and closer.

Once you find an interception point, it becomes a waiting game. Your partner needs to provide the enticement for the herd bull to move. At the same time, the shooter needs to decide when it is safe to close the distance.

Drawing out the herd bull is not an easy task. Follow these tips and you can get it done.

What are your elk hunting strategies? 

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Tactics to Draw Out the Elk Herd Bull