Bowhunting and calling public land elk for over 25 years, we've learned a few things that we want to share with you:
1) Herd bulls only occasionally respond to bugles in a positive way. Therefore, cow calling is a much more productive tactic when hunting herd bulls.
2) Herd bulls who bugle are trying to attract cows. Not usually to warn or challenge other bulls. When another bull comes close, as long as its feasible, the herd bull will often round up his cows and leave, whereas if a cow comes close, he will want to inspect and round her up. The herd bull is likely to stand and fight mostly when the terrain shows its not feasible to round up his cows and leave or when the cows are so widely distributed that he knows he cannot round them up before the threat arrives.
3) Cow calling brings in cows, satellite bulls, spikes, herd cows, lost cows, and herd bulls.
4) Bugling is most effective in attracting satellite bulls and can be useful to locate elk. If a herd bull is not responding to cow talk, sometimes a challenge bugle at less than 80 yards will pull him in.
5) When hunting thick cover, call every 150 yards moving with the wind in your face. Sit quitely and ready for at least 10 minutes after the last call is made. Be ready for elk to come in silent.
6) Keep it simple when it comes to gear and gadgets. The more complex the gadget, the more likely it will become problematic in the woods. It's also a long, heavy walk into our elk camp, so we are minimalists and pack accordingly. Our calls play a part in this. Many of our grunt/cow tubes are simple. The bare bones to put the call out there and also throw your voice to coax wary elk. They lack the bells and whistles associated with other grunt tubes, but they sound great and will bring elk to you when used properly.
Our elk calling strategies are built around the above theories about calling and bow hunting elk. Generally, if we are trying to attract random elk, we will use a wide variety of cow call techniques ranging from estrus cow, calf, young cow, lead cow, and middle aged cow elk sounds. We try to sound like a herd of cows who haven't found a bull. If it's a breezy day or our cow calls are not producing, we may add in some bugles at that time, but for the most part, cow calling is where it's at for us. Therefore, we have created several different cow calls. All of which produce different tones and pitches. All of which can also double as bugles. These calling methods are time tested and true for us and have proven to be highly productive for more than 2 and a half decades. As time progresses, look to our instructional information page as we disclose the many tactics we've learned and proven over the past quarter century. We give this information as our way of helping you be more successful in the field. Write us if there's anything you would like us to cover on this matter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping all of the above in mind, SMO has designed calls to support this highly productive system of elk hunting. Our calls are made with the highest quality materials we could find, sound ridiculously accurate, are easy to blow, highly tunable, and are proven to bring in elk.