You can’t beat the thrill of ripping a bugle and hearing a bull respond. Elk hunters climb mountains every September for this reason. But don’t expect your calls to work every time. The bugle tube will get the herd bull pissed off and bring him into range if you are trying to pick a fight.
Nevertheless, you’re better off using the soft chirps of reassuring cow calls when you’re trying to talk a satellite that’s been pounded by all of the mountain’s bulls.
It is important to have several options so you can choose the best one for you. I interviewed a few elk hunters to find out which calls they carry every September. Starting with some of the best elk calls available can help you shorten that process, but you’ll need to find out which ones work for you.
5 Best Elk Calls for Beginners
1. Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Heartbreaker
In addition to calling and killing elk in the West, Chris Roe is a die-hard elk hunter and guide. Besides teaching new hunters how to call elk, he also teaches turkeys and deer hunting tactics through his online platform, Roe Hunting Resources. He mainly makes cow calls when it comes to calling.
Despite encountering testosterone-crazed bulls, he opts to stick to cow calls instead of bugling. His favorite call is the Heartbreaker from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls, which he has used dozens of times.
Roe says she calls with open reeds 99 percent of the time. Her Heartbreaker is a crisp and clean call that can’t be compared.
According to Roe, the Heartbreaker is easier to use than a lot of other competitors because of its wide reed design.
The successful call in of a bull by Chris Roe in 2016.
“I’ve been using the Primos Hyper Lip Single for more than ten years, and it’s an excellent call,” he says, “but the Heartbreaker outperforms all other open reed calls.”
Roe can make all cow sounds with the Heartbreaker, and its nasally tone adds a bit of realism when he’s making mews or chirps, which makes it stand out from other calls. For beginners or for experienced hunters, Roe also recommended the Phelps EZ Suk’r.
2. Phelps Game Calls Pink Signature AMP
The Pink Signature Amp diaphragm was running during one of Jason Phelps’ most memorable hunts last year in New Mexico.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Phelps says. The Pink Amp is so versatile, it can handle so many different types of calls. On that particular hunt, I would make whiny cow calls or roaring bugles and that bull I ended up shooting would cut me off. As a result, I kept roaring back at him. Eventually, he couldn’t stand it anymore and came right in.”
The Pink Amp diaphragm will do everything he wants a diaphragm to do, says Phelps. This custom fit allows him to run the call better and make all the elk vocalizations.
It’s important to buy a few different calls and see which one works best with your mouth size, according to Phelps. It’s not easy to find a call that fits every mouth size perfectly.
“Not every user will be able to work this call the way they prefer,” Phelps says. “It’s built on our AMP frame and has a radius curve that’s kind of the sweet spot when it comes to size. One size fits most.
3. Primos Hoochie Mama
The cow call is Will Primos’ favorite method of calling bulls, and he’s done plenty of it. Primos designed the Primos Hoochie Mama to make a wide range of cow sounds in an easy-to-use push style that anyone can use, from beginners to experienced hunters. He believes it’s the most appealing call to rutting bulls.
If I could only have one call, it would be this one. It’s so easy to use, and it sounds so accurate.”. “Just push it with your thumb, and you can make short mews, chirps, or whines,” he says.
Primos loves the Hoochie Mama, but he recognizes some of its shortcomings.
It’s easy to use one handed and doesn’t require a lot of movement, but it doesn’t make the same kind of estrus sounds as open reed calls. If you’re a beginner or have trouble with diaphragm calls, the Hoochie Mama will appeal to bulls, and with its easy-to-use design, you can make clean, consistent sounds every time.
As well as not overcalling, Primos always reminds hunters to keep wind direction and thermals in mind when calling.
“All the sad stories about elk hunting are about an elk’s nose,” he says. It is easy to lose focus on the wind or thermals during a bugling bull, especially if it is early in the morning or late in the evening. It won’t matter what call you’re using if you don’t check those, you’ll end up blowing your scent directly to that bull.”
4. Born And Raised Outdoors The Bomb Bugle Call
A bugle tube is a must-have for Born and Raised Outdoors’ Kody Kellom, and his go-to, which boasts a large sound chamber, is appropriately called The Bomb.
Kellom says he wanted a bugle tube that was loud, carried a solid tone, and had the back pressure to sound as realistic as possible. “I like the size and weight of the Bomb for long backcountry hunts.”
Elk101 with Kellom and a mature bull.
Its large diameter allows for creating the big hollow bellows required for bugling and calling distant bulls, but the mouthpiece allows for other great sounds, says Kellom.
“The flared mouthpiece is so comfortable,” Kellom says. “This is just a much easier tube for hunters to use.”
When looking for a bull that’s ready to fight, Kellom and the other guys at Born And Raised often use The Bomb.
Our goal is to set up within 150 yards of that bull, Kellom says. “We’ll get him fired up, build his energy, and then we’ll just stick with that call. Overall, it’s the best tube I’ve ever used.”
5. Native by Carlton Greenie Weenie
There have been elk hunting legends Wayne Carlton and his crew designing some of the best elk calls longer than most hunters have been hunting them. The Greenie Weenie cow call, apart from newer colors, has remained a staple in his Native by Carlton line for more than 40 years.
Greenie Weenie has the volume to reach distant bulls and produces the full cow vocabulary.
This is an excellent fighting cow call for simulating a cow establishing a pecking order,” Carlton says. I have used this pecking order call to lure bulls out of the timber for years. My goal was to make these calls a high-pitched sound that would attract bull elk.
With the open reed design, you can make extremely loud, realistic cow sounds, but you can also use the port tube as a muffler when a bull comes close.
This isn’t a knock on the Greenie Weenie’s sound, though. He compares it to turkey calls with more rasp. Many bulls can’t resist that tone, he says.
Carlton advises hunters not to worry about producing perfect calls with the Greenie Weenie.
In many cases, all you need to do is call an elk that has never heard a call before or hasn’t heard it in a long time.
It was Carlton’s first time hunting in New Mexico, and he had been trying to contact his buddy all morning without success. After the uneventful morning, the friend asked if he could call.
After he called in one of the worst cow calls Carlton has ever heard, the world erupted with a massive bugle. When Carlton shot the bull, it was 22 yards away.
Things to Consider Before Buying Elk Calls
A great elk call can help you locate and draw a bull into range whether you are hunting early archery season or during gun season with some of the best elk hunting rifles on the market. Find the call that works for you over everything else if you’re looking for an open reed cow call or bugle tube.
It’s true that most elk hunters who own their own calls choose the ones with their names on them, but that’s because they also design these calls according to their specifications, and they know what works best for them. You’ll probably need to try several different elk calls before you find one that sticks. Here’s what you can find.
It uses a small metal frame and latex construction similar to the best turkey mouth calls to create elk sounds by pressing air over it with your mouth. Elk calls usually have the same number of reeds and same style cuts within a single brand (exceptions exist). The latex tightness and width usually separates one call from another.
There are many different elk sounds you can make with diaphragms, and you can use them hands free, but you will have to try several before you find one that sticks. You will also have to practice more than with other calls.
An elk call with an o-ring holds a reed in place and is held in place by a small sound chamber and sound board. The open reed call is more user-friendly than a diaphragm, but it doesn’t give you hands free calling. However, it doesn’t make it any less effective. Every elk expert I interviewed had one.
It is easy to project roaring bugles and chuckles using a bugle tube. While most bugle tubes use a diaphragm, some have reed systems, like the Primos Terminator.
A user-friendly design is evident in elk calls like the Phelps EZ-Suk’r or Primos Hoochie Mama. But that doesn’t mean these are just for beginners. Even the pros, like Chris Roe, add these to their pack. They simply blow through them or press a button to make realistic elk sounds. When you’re on the mountain, it never hurts to have more or different calls.
Q: What is the easiest elk call to use?
It’s very easy to use the Primos Hoochie Mama elk call. It just involves pressing the upper part of the call to make easy cow calls.
Q: What is the best elk bugle call?
Every expert I talked to stressed the importance of using the best elk bugle call. Everyone has a different mouth shape, so every bugle call will work differently for each individual. To find out which one produces the best sounds, it’s best to try a few different ones.
Q: How far can you hear an elk call?
The topography, vegetation, and weather conditions play a role in this, but an elk call can usually be heard from several hundred yards away. You may be able to hear an elk bugling a mile or more if there are no windy conditions, the bull is facing you, and there aren’t a lot of terrain features between you.
It doesn’t matter what kind of calling style you use – aggressively bugling at bulls or luring them in with assembly mews – the best elk calls let you do just that. This list of picks from experts can help you get closer to calling in a bull, even if you have to try a few before you find one that sticks.