Used to be, a guy
could fool old bulls with just a single-reed
bugle call and corrugated tube. But there
are more hunters in the woods these
days, and the elk have heard it all.
When they turn vocal in mid-September,
less is usually more. A gentle cow or
calf call and good positioning are more
important than being able to belt out a
three-octave ear-buster. Better to talk
sweet, ’cause the big guy knows exactly
where you are.
There comes a moment when you know the conversation has turned. Classic bugling
subsides to guttural chuckles punctuated by antlers thrashing the spruce. Limbs breaking. A hoof
falling. The barrel-chested breaths getting closer. This wapiti game has changed, with more people
playing. But one thing remains the same: You still have to speak their language.
Denver Bryan captured the images of
his nephew, Justin Bryan, while hunting
elk on private land in Montana’s
Bridger Mountains, where they were
part of an elk camp whose hunters
chased bulls for a long and tiring
week during the peak of the rut.