Make Noise to Get Close
Think rattling is just for whitetails? Check out the video above with elk extraordinaire Ralph Ramos as he shows you how to entice bulls with an age-old whitetail trick.Elk are noisy neighbors one minute and silent as a dew-drenched garter snake the next. But during the unruliness of the rut, they party like it’s 1999 (yeah that Prince song). Vocalizations combined with the clatter of hooves and antlers readily reveal elk locations. If your elk calling lacks such enticement, then you’ll want to consider adding some clatter of your own to tempt a bull into taking the bait, especially on hunted elk who have heard every call in the sporting goods store.
An easy starter is simply raking a tree. You don’t need to carry around a shed antler, although in many locations you can pick one up during the course of a hunting day. Whether gripping an antler or a heavy branch, start scraping and banging on a nearby sapling to recreate the sound of a bull pulverizing a tree. Herd or satellite bulls often take notice and rush over to spar with the aggressor. Rake for a few minutes and then watch, then repeat until someone takes notice. If you’re hunting with a partner, have the raker set-up 10 or 20 yards behind the shooter.
As elk move across mountain slopes or as bulls chase cows, their hooves oftentimes catch rocks and send them rolling down with a clatter. If you make an unexpected noise while stalking close to a herd and need to cover it, mew and flip a rock down the hill. This also works great while imitating a bull courting an estrus cow to add intensity into the ruse. Same goes for snapping limbs and sticks.
Have you ever heard a bull wallow? It’s a noisy, hoof-slapping, mud-splattering affair. Elk may bed near or above wallows, and some old-fashioned mud splashing with a large branch could be just enough to bring a bull down to investigate. Add in some gratifying whines of a bull enjoying the plunge to validate what a nearby bull perceives, and get ready for a close encounter.
Lastly, there’s no easy way to imitate the sound of two bulls fighting except by using two freshly shed elk antlers crashing together. If you’re man- or woman-enough to tote heavy elk antlers along for rattling, it can work as slick as when rattling for whitetails. Slip in close to a herd, rattle and get ready for a bull to arrive ready to brawl.
And remember, predators don’t typically make a lot of noise in the woods. They sneak up on their prey for a living. Last time I checked, I wasn’t quite as stealthy as a lion. So when in close quarters with elk, make yourself sound like an elk and see how close you can actually get.Have you had success Rattling? Let us know your thoughts below.