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Use Cow Elk Calls

Tutorial, Tips and Techniques
Use Cow Elk Calls

How to use Cow Elk Calls by Drew Rouse

We are renowned in the elk hunting world as the company with the best cow elk call. Elk reel is simple to use, has the best accurate sound and performs at a bar raising level.  Not that you can’t bugle with an Elk Reel mind you. We do that quite commonly during the September Elk Seasons. However in this article we strictly talk about tactics and strategy on how to use our Cow Elk calls. No bugling will be discussed. We will save that topic for a future article.

We also feel we’d be doing you a disservice to discuss stuff we no longer carry on our person when we hunt. If we felt it would help us to hunt elk more efficiently we’d make some of the traditional designs to carry.

Open reeds and Diaphragms are far less complex to manufacture. There is a reason we haven’t rushed to make any. We may never make any. Plus this article is a little more on calling strategy and a lot less on how to actually operate a call.


Use Cow Elk calls that sounds realistic

There is no doubt that with our patented Elk Reel you will make amazingly accurate Cow Elk vocalizations. Without you spending years practicing. While not having the chance of a call making a bad sound at the worst possible time. How much time and money do we spend on a single hunt chasing Wapiti? We don’t ever want our calls to ever be the reason that big boy spooked!

Traditional cow elk calls were something we always found lacking. Therefore no matter what we tried to use there was a huge obvious void.

We could never find a call that did several things. Be reliable to make consistent sounds. Easy to learn and not be a push button monotone with no volume control. To be small and fit in your mouth and your pocket while not being fragile. And last but not least to sound like the Bull Elk and Cow Elk we’ve spent so much time being around.

In our opinion most calls can only really imitate Cow elk not duplicate them. We wanted perfection, we spent years perfecting the sound so that we couldn’t pick it out from real animals. Our original design the Elk Reel changed the game forever.The hinging action makes a natural sliding note. The sound is spot on. You can add voice inflection to sound like a demanding or estrous cow. High pitch calf talk is a snap. Any sound a female elk makes and some that bulls make are produced by varying the angle of the sound board and varying your airflow. It is renowned from the best guides and outfitters to the first time elk hunters who have tried it as the best elk call on the market. So if you are reading this article titled How to use Cow Elk calls you are in luck.

We solved all the problems we found with Elk Calls. Feedback from our customers has 100 percent confirmed that fact.  Our Elk reel is the best call to learn from scratch or to add something new to your well polished calling game.


What we have will have you making realistic Cow Elk sounds more easily and more reliably.

The reason there is so much information on how to use diaphragms and open reed calls to call elk is obvious. They are difficult to master to say the least. It takes a book and and an elk hunting university just to learn how to get a decent sound out of them.

We are not going to tell you to waste your time learning with those decades old call designs. What we will do is walk you through some simple strategy on how we use our Elk Reel calls to imitate adult Cow Elk. We will save you time and hopefully help you put a tag on a freezer full of organic protein this fall!

Why spend years practicing when you don’t have to? Our customers learn on average in 30 seconds how to make an accurate chirp. From there it’s just a matter of watching a few videos of real elk.

You will quickly be mastering the unique simple hinging action of the Elk Reel.  This allows finite control of the pitch, note duration and volume. We always say our Elk Reel is stupid easy, and we mean it.

 Use Cow Elk Calls

Cow Elk talk Like We Do

Wait what did you say? Cow elk talk like humans? Well not with anywhere near the complexity of humans. However there is no doubt they do make a lot of different sounds and they communicate, those are fact. How many people sound like each other? To us the myriad of range in pitch and tones in our own human voices is endless.

Elk voices vary as well in the same aspect. Consequently they have their own voice just as we do. So you can use this to your advantage when hunting. Its one of the reasons that calls need to be variable to duplicate this to add realism. Pretend you are a group of at least two elk and you’ll have more success calling Elk.  You can do this by making slight variations in your tone and pitch.

There is a lot of disagreement in the elk calling world. On things like names of vocalizations, what they mean etc etc. We aren’t getting into that, we don’t pretend to know everything. Here at Reel we are simply hunters who wanted a better Elk call and spent years inventing one.


Conclusions drawn from experience

We have hundreds of days chasing public land otc bulls. Countless hours listening to Cow Elk sounds. We are simply sharing our first hand knowledge with you.

Elk are a social creature, they spend lots of time in big groups. They travel through heavy forests and swamps, Mountains and wide open space. In order to stay together, find a mate or stay safe from danger they have evolved the ability to communicate through sound. Age class and sex mean that in an elk herd one can expect to hear all kinds of different noises.

Since no one can actually talk to animals we humans can only guess at what each vocalization signifies. Do the elk just make random sounds to communicate? We do believe they are not so random. At the very least knowing what a few of the different ones sound like can help you a great deal. We want to help you rev that fun meter and call in more elk!

Types of Vocalizations

We have covered Calf noises in a separate article so we will stick to Cow Elk sounds in this one. A simple chirp, which we think elk just do randomly most of the time to sense where the other elk are. More demanding estrous type calls, medium length more raspy sounds, they seem to do this less overall. Long drawn out notes that can be called cow bugles etc.

Really Elk can make such a racket and such a variety of sounds it’s almost pointless to try to name them all. The point we are trying to make is to call Elk and to use Cow Elk calls it would be a good idea to practice making more than one vocalization.

This is what makes push button squeeze calls far less than perfect. It’s the same note at the same volume over and over. If there is no variety in your calling it sounds really unrealistic. To use Cow Elk calls we suggest learning at least three different sounds.


Sound like multiple Elk

So you’ve watched some videos of real elk, maybe listened to a podcast or a hundred and got a feel for a what we are talking about. Good! Pick out three sounds you’ve now observed Cow Elk make through your media device make and try to imitate them.

Sounding multiple is one of our favorite technique in how we use cow elk calls. Whether you are still hunting or setup blind calling or you’ve spotted the animal and need to close the distance. Sounding like multiple elk can make the difference in sealing the deal or going home empty handed.

Vary your volume when you use cow elk calls

Cow Elk make noises at high volume and they almost whisper at times. We suggest spending some of your time practicing making accurate sounds at the lowest possible volume level. This is something our calls do easily due to the unique 3 dimensional reeds.

Varying volume on the low end can keep elk from getting suspicious that the sound is too loud to be real. Making them think you are further away keeps them coming in. They will eventually expect to see the other elk talking to them.

Make high volume sounds. Raspy high volume cow sounds are good for locating distant elk and blind calling. Sometimes elk make really loud sounds, more so when unpressured but sometimes this is the only way to find any elk. Afterall you are either hunting elk or looking for elk.

Any seasoned elk hunter knows they can be quite hard to locate. Use high volume sparingly and always think before you call. Do you have a good reason to blow on your cow call? Don’t just blow them randomly. Have a goal in mind.

Tips on using an Elk Reel

Use your voice to inflect rasp. We simply make a grr sound when trying to get raspy with an Elk Reel. This helps make those estrous or demanding cow sounds.

Vary your cadence. Play the notes with longer front end high pitch and a full low note to simulate assembly mews. Just keep the call closed longer in the begining and make sure you let it open all the way as you finish your note.

Try notes that start a middle pitch and stay at that pitch for a couple seconds. Cow Elk will make sounds that don’t slide. Leave the call partly open to imitate this kind of vocalization. Blow a constant stream of air and you’ll have this note on lockdown.

Use whines at the end of a mew. Make a full closed position to open sliding note mew and then a half open whine at the end of it to suggest the Cow Elk is becoming impatient. Bulls can be driven crazy by a lady that is demanding they come see her right now.


Add natural sound effects with Elk talk

Sure we add in other elk vocalizations definitely both bull and calf.  This time we mean the other noises a Cow Elk makes. Things like kicking rocks down the hill and making noise like an elk would walking. These things add realism as Cow Elk are large animals that make sounds when they move.

The little things like this can make or break your setup. Adding them to type of sounds our calls can make is deadly. How you use cow elk calls to fool elk that have been around for a decade or longer takes skill! Some cow elk can be over 10 years old. They learn what to do to survive and they are the ones hanging out with the bull of your dreams.

Move around when calling in your own setups. Act like an elk and stomp around and step on twigs. Anything you can do to add to your setup you should try. Break branches against a tree while cow calling. Adding in other Elk is another way to add realism.


Use breaks in your calling

Use breaks to do several things when calling elk. It adds realism, elk seem to talk in spurts. Use 2 minute 5 minute and 10 minute breaks between your calling.

We have many times heard elk up close all chirping and then go quiet and then chirping etc etc it’s just what they do. Be like them and don’t just call constantly.

It makes them search for you. They will stand there and listen to you if you call constantly. When you stop they are more likely to be moving towards you looking for the herd or cow they hear.

Calling too much can cause them to take so long to come in you give up and move before you should. Let em have a chance to come looking for you.


Call with a friend or two

One person calling will work. We have used it effectively and shot Elk with archery equipment that we have called in. However two or three people calling to each other softly and sometimes on top of each other can add realism.

How to use cow elk calls effectively to mimic multiple elk means thinking in realism. The more real stuff you can add to your reeling the better it works. We always try to use this technique when not solo hunting.

Chirp back and forth or make the other person a bull or a calf.  Be more than one elk and have your partner or friends do the same. Three people calling like this sounds amazing and works like a charm.

Be confident that calling works

Maybe you’re one of the guys we’ve talked to that says “oh i don’t call”. Maybe you’re going on a first ever elk hunt. Try an Elk Reel, make sure you know what elk sound like and believe it’s going to work.

If you don’t try it you won’t know if it will ever work. It does work we know that for a fact. Try it a few times and be patient. Do long sequences on hard hunted public land. It may take them a long time to commit. Sometimes it takes a bull longer to reach you. Stay patient and keep track on a watch and try to extend sequences for over an hour. The longevity can put your setup over the top.

Maybe the elk can learn that we hunters can be impatient. We think they do and have learned so many things from us hunters! Sometimes we call in one place for up to two hours. Having faith that calling works.

It can pay off with a herd of cows walking right through your shooting lane towing mr Big! Just believe and stay in your setup as long as possible. Nothing wrong with covering ground but short setups for blind calling rarely pay off.


Get off the road for success

Calling from a vehicle rarely results in anything but educated elk. Many people do just exactly this anyways and you can’t change that. The further into a season the hunt you are doing the higher the chance that the elk have been pressured.

If you want your calling to work it may take getting into an in between area. What we mean by that is Elk will tend to be in the hardest to reach spots. You can’t call them if they aren’t there so look at a map and find spots that are exactly in between two trailheads or roads.

Knowing how to use cow elk calls only works when the elk can hear you. Get off the beaten path to find places where they may be to call them in. You can’t call in what’s not there.


Think outside the box to use Cow Elk Calls

This means being creative in your approach. One thing we do that we will share with you on this line of thinking is calling while moving. This takes planning and scouting or years hunting the same area. Know where the Elk bed and then pretend to be a herd moving into the bedding area. Use soft Cow chirps and low volume assembly mews and even whines as you hike into your area you intend to set up in.

Think a small herd moving to bed. Try to be the herd as you get close then setup in a predetermined location and continue your sequence. If you’re plan is working a bull or group may be already be bugling or sneaking his way in. Due to your movement this can result in spooked elk as well.

This is just one idea we have used to kill Elk over the years. So we just thought well elk get used to people calling from one spot. Do real elk herds always stay in one place and chit chat? Maybe in the early season or the summer time or if they aren’t pressured.

In our experience elk adapt very quickly to hunting pressure. You will need all your wits to outsmart them!

An Elk Reel even helps the master 

We have talked to a lot of guys at trade shows etc that have lots of experience Elk hunting. They remind us of skiers that used to ski on straight skis. They were already good skiers, hence why would they need fat powder skis.

Fat skis were for people that didn’t know how to ski powder. Then along came a skier named Shane McConkey. Shane used the new technology to step his game to the top rung of the sport.

He realized that using all the tools available did not make him a kook or less of a skier. Shane helped bring fat skis to the mainstream. As a result his vision to not let his ego get in the way made him one of the greatest skiers on the planet. Seems like hunters can learn that ego can be our own enemy too.

We realize this is off subject but it applies to all the elk hunters out there that might scoff at a new call like ours. All we can say is we got some guys that know more about elk than us using this call and the response has been unanimous. They have told us it makes sounds that no other call that can make. The sound is indistinguishable from the real thing.

What does an Elk Reel offer expert Elk hunters?

We can help you call more realistically while also more consistently. It’s not just for the beginner or intermediate hunter, guides with 30 years or more of experience use our calls and have reported their own amazement. Hence we even help the master to use Cow Elk calls.

So if you are the man at Elk hunting and you’ve shot more bulls than you can remember. Try one of our Elk Reel calls and look in the mirror when you try it. You will see your own eyes light up…


Bring the fire and passion

So how to use cow elk calls to hunt Elk is like we said a very broad subject. There is so much on technique that we will break that stuff down further in future articles. Keep tuned here in the Reel Classroom as we are going to be updating it.

One thing we’d like to close with is that Elk hunting is an artform if you ask us.  It takes years of knowledge and learning to use cow elk calls. Yes you can get lucky and shoot a monster by accident. It happens every year.  To consistently call in Bulls year after year takes love of the struggle.

Remember these words on your next elk hunt. The struggle is the prize.  Bring love of the pursuit of such a hard to kill animal and love to learn about them and you will find more success!

So learn to love the journey. Hunt your butt off. Study your quarry. Study your hunting spots. Furthermore learn what Elk do when they get pressured. In addition scout hard and put the time in. Be proficient in multiple Elk vocalizations. While Cow Elk talk is just one aspect of the game, a very important one. Be passionate about calling Elk and learning how to better imitate Cow Elk to call in more Bulls!


In conclusion effort pays in Elk hunting. Be prepared, be educated and be fit! We wish you great luck this Elk hunting season and hope our tutorial with tips and techniques on how to use cow elk calls helped you out!

More Articles:

How to make Elk Calf Sounds

How do hunting calls work