Every experienced elk hunter has been confronted by a "hung up" bull. It often starts with a quick response to your bugle. The adrenaline starts pumping. You check the wind, make an educated guess about the bull's location, then begin to cut the distance. You cow call occasionally, and he regularly responds, sounding interested. But as you begin to get close, and you can't close the distance much more without blowing your cover, the bull "hangs up." In other words, he just won't close that final stretch and get within shooting range. Below are a few tips from the ElkNut App, featuring the elk calling expert, Paul Medel, that should help you get that "hung up" bull to come in to range.
Paint the Picture of a Hot Cow
Nothing gets a bull excited quite like a "hot" cow, meaning a cow in estrus. And you can bet a bull's blood will start to boil if he not only perceives a hot cow, but also the presence of another bull elk with her!
Under this scenario once the bull has "hung up," you should start raking a tree (or stomping the ground if no trees are close) and give two or three pants from the spot you cow called. Mix in a few whiny cow calls as you continue to rake (or stomp). If the bull bugles, cut him off with a challenge or lip bawl bugle. There's a good chance the bull will become aggressive and start closing in. If the bull does not respond, wait for five minutes or so, arrow nocked and ready in case the bull decides to close the distance. If nothing still, repeat the above scenario and give it a full thirty minutes. Keep your ears and eyes open for the bull's stealthy approach!
Do as a Bee Does: Buzz!
Another great call to implement when going after a hung up bull is the Contact Buzz. It's a cow sound asking for another elk to come to her or to re-gather other elk. This sound can be a great tool to convince a hung up bull that what he's hearing is another elk who is asking him to respond to her calls. In the event the bull tries to bugle you in from there, you can paint the above picture of a challenging bull moving in to intercept his cow. Be ready to see the real bull come in on a line!
The Team Approach
When you are hunting with a companion, you can also consider taking advantage of a "hung up" bull's curiosity. If he fails to come in notwithstanding your calling, leave the shooter in the spot from which you were calling (with favorable wind and good cover), and have the other hunter retreat, cow calling away from the bull so he is under the impression the cow is moving away. The bull's curiosity and senses will often lead him to venture over to the spot from which the calling initiated to check things out--right where the other hunter has been waiting!
These are just a few tactics that might help you reach that "hung up" bull. The calls and tactics referenced in this article (and many, many others) are all featured on the ElkNut App, which is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. The ElkNut App is designed to take your elk calling and hunting ability to the next level. It's content has been proven in the field through years of experience. We encourage you to give it a go, join our e-mail list, and follow us on social media.