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  1. #1
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    Tricks of the Trade (Calling in the Cascades)

    Bow hunting the Cascade Mountain Range is easy. All that you need is a solid month of scouting, physical and mental endurance, and the grace of Mother Nature. There is some crazy ol' timer statistic out there that states, 95 percent of all elk harvested in the Cascades are harvested by the same 5 percent of hunters. I imagine that it is about as accurate as anyone could guess, and I consider myself blessed to be in that statistic. I started hunting very late in life, and have only been hunting for a few years now, six to be exact, so any inaccuracies in my writing feel free to address.

    My first two years of bow hunting was quite the learning experience to say the least. I had bit off way more than I could chew in those two years. Surprisingly enough locating the mystical creature was the easy part. I asked a few old timers where the best chances of spotting elk would be and after a few hours of tromping through the woods I found a heard. Once I settled in to my observation post I began calling and that is when all hell broke loose. I started out with quite "Here Elk" calls and they didn't respond. They were a good 150 yards away so I elevated my voice a bit on the second attempt and put a little more emphasis on the "HE" of "Here Elk," and boy did that work. They spun right around! The herd bull rounded up his cows in a hurry. All that I saw was mud flying from hooves about 20 elk asses and then nothing. An empty high mountain prairie with a maze of wallows and beds scattered for a hundred yards was all that remained.

    That night I drove the hour and a half home trying to process what happened. I thought I had great intonation and carried my voice well while calling the elk. I sang in choir clear through high school, and was told I had a great voice, apparently not to elk. This story brings me to my first topic of discussion. How to call in elk once they have been semi located. Just in case you were wondering in never really used "Here Elk" to make my calls. It would have been just as productive though.

    There is one vital key to being a successful elk caller. Practice, practice practice. It does not make perfect, because I do not believe there is such a thing when calling elk. It does, however, build confidence in producing the sound you want to here when you make your call. I have called in elk or got response nearly every year for the last four years with practicing different techniques. I have practiced to the point my wife kicks me out of the house; to the point that I was creating more of a ruckus than the war in Iraq when I was there in 2010. I bought just about every call on the market, and whittled it down to three. I use the Hyper lip double reed by primos, the Sonic Dome (double or triple reed), and a bugling tube.

    I found that with these three devices I could create any sound I wanted to, and reproduce the sounds I was getting answered back to by the elk. The Sonic dome by premos is great for making calf calls. The Hyper Lip is great for estrus calls, and the combination of the Sonic Dome and the bugling tube is great for bugling. Easy enough one would think, but when do you make these calls and how do they sound? This is a question that separates hunters from nature walkers. It is no surprise that when hunting the Cascades during late August and early September it is very loud. It is almost impossible to stalk and shoot in this area. That my friends are where calling is the key to success.

    I would hate to give out all of my valuable secrets in one post without having some interest in this topic. So if you would like to hear more about what I have found in my last four successful seasons please respond, and I'd be glad to give you a pinch of knowledge from my perspective. Thanks for reading and I hope someone is interested.

  2. #2
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    I am very interested! I grew up hunting the Cascades in Oregon, mostly deer hunting. I have spent about ten elk seasons in the Cascades, mostly rifle. About 6 years ago I decided to give a solid effort on bow hunting elk there. the fisrt year I was in elk alot, but every time I tried to call the bull would gather up the herd and it was over. So I decided I need to learn how to call, I went to a class on calling elk the next summer. That next elk season I took a week off work and put what I learned to the test. I called in 7 differant bulls that week, its was the best elk hunting I had ever had. I have tried to repeat that since with out much success. I tried rifle hunting this last Cascade elk season. I thought maybe the elk were still rutting since the season started Oct 13th. I hunted seven days straight and never saw or heard an elk. One challange I have is finding anyone to go with me, 95% of the time I am alone on these hunts. I would love to be one of the 5% that takes elk every year, at 42 I plan on another 20 plus years of elk hunting with the majority of those years hunting the Cascades. In the last 30 years I have only killed one Cascade bull, I would love the hear what you have found that gives you success.

  3. #3
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    I really want to here some more. I will send you a PM. Thanks

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    I am interested as well I just started elk and mules hunting a couple years ago. I have yet to take home successes but many small successes and big f ups. The one thing I have learned is that I love it and the more days I spend out in the field the better. While I was in colorado hunting this year my wife sarah got a job offer in Oregon, It wasn't a hard decision. The first thing I did was call for law books. I have a lot of state regs to learn. It is a bit overwhelming to learn the land, the regs, and new animals. Most of my experience has been with whitetails, bear, and wild hogs on public land. I can't wait to see what we got are selves into.

  5. #5
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    Hey timberstalker. I would like to ask how often you scout the area you call in? Do you call from the same area every year, and have you been seeing fresh sign every year? If so the last few years have been way warmer than normal during August and September and the elk may be a higher in elevation still.

  6. #6
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    Maineboy, that is funny, I just deployed with a National Guard medevac company out of Maine, great people. You are going to love hunting in the Cascades if you are dedicated. Otherwise there is every element against you if you don't learn quick and pay attention.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonMccully View Post
    Hey timberstalker. I would like to ask how often you scout the area you call in? Do you call from the same area every year, and have you been seeing fresh sign every year? If so the last few years have been way warmer than normal during August and September and the elk may be a higher in elevation still.
    Its an area I either hunt or scout yearly. I have been calling there the last 5 or 6 years, and rarely di I not see or hear elk. This last season I took a buddy there the 3rd week of bow season, we saw two groups of elk. Ususally that week they are going nuts, but they were dead silent this year. I tried everything I know the get a response, nothing worked. By the time rifle season came they were gone. A herd traveled through the area the 5th day of season, but didn't stick around. I think there was more hunitng pressure this year due to the lower elevation areas being shut down. This is an spot where I have hunted alot in the last 6 years, very rarely do I not get into elk. Very rarely do I see other bow hunters either, it does get more rifle hunting pressure. I am hunting wilderness 4000 to 5500 ft so the only way they can get higher is to start climbing the Buttes and mountains. Which doesn't make alot of sense to me.
    Last edited by Timberstalker; 10-28-2012 at 09:58 AM.

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    I agree with you totally on the elevation. All of my experience comes from more of the foothills in the Hwy. 22 area. I have found that I usually get in to them around the 3500 to 4000 ft. range during the opening season. Once rifle season hits they have dropped down more into the valleys of the range. Elk tend to have patterns. I have called in all of my elk within a 1/4 mile spot in one place for the past 3 seasons. Technique changed though. I had three branch bulls in on one day in the same spot. It was raining like crazy and the wind was blowing in my face. So the conditions were perfect to keep down my noise and scent. If they are in a herd and you are calling I never get much interest in them either. I have my best luck with the branch bulls that loiter outside of the herd. I never stick in an area more than 30 minutes when actively calling. My theory is that it is enough time to see if I have generated any interest. For one of the herds I hunt I bounce from ridge to ridge, or spur to spur in an order. I work east to west b/c I know they typically are traveling west to east in the morning, and the opposite during the evening. I don't always get response. Last year my bull came charging in from a draw about 300 yards a way and never made a sound. The earth was shaking though and you could def. here him coming in. He was a nice 5x5 I shot from 13 yards.

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    My theory on staying higher than them is because of the unpredicatable terrain driven winds in the Cascades. I have found that on a morning hunt the thermal air makes the winds go uphill when the surface is warming. Unless there is a powerful system forcing the wind one direction you are always at a disadvantage. So to combat that I found staying above them in the best advice for calm 45 degree mornings with the sun poking out.

  10. #10
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    PM sent Jon

 

 

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