Elk NetworkCalling and Decoying Elk in Timber

Gear 101 , Hunting | July 30, 2018

Bowhunting for big bull elk is known to cause fits of “buck fever” like you’ve never experienced. Learn to call and decoy elk in the timber, and hold on to your shaky knees.

As the bachelor herds begin breaking up in exchange for as many of the opposite sex as they can gather, a bull will be ready to fiercely guard his harem once it is formed.

During this time of year, elk are sticking to the coolness of shadows and dark timber as much as possible. They’re feeding mostly at night and visiting watering holes during the day when they do move. Vocalization increases though bulls are more receptive to cow calls rather than bugles in the early season. It’s time to take advantage of the testosterone levels that are rising at a quick beat. An elk’s behavior depends on several factors, including temperature, food availability, hunting pressure and of course the phase of the rut they’re in. If it’s a pre rut, early season hunt you’re going on, plan on calling and decoying elk in the timber where they’ll most likely be spending most of their days.

The Cow Call

You should have a cow call in your pack at all times. Even if a bull is satisfied with his harem, a cow call can also be used to at least locate a herd or stop a bull when you’re ready to shoot. Stopping him in the right shooting lane while hunting the thick timber is crucial to making a lethal shot.


Increase your chances of calling and decoying elk in the timber by utilizing an ultra-real, easy-to-carry elk decoy. The RMEF Cow Elk decoy is great throughout the season. Weighing only 2lbs. 10ozs., this photo-realistic decoy opens up to create a 48- by 50-inch portable hunting blind that is ideal for the forest, scrub brush or open country of the West. Or try building a herd by adding an Eichler Elk or try causing a fight instinct by using the new Spike Elk. Decoys add visual conformation and realism to any calling set up.

As with most animals, the use of decoys and calls are implemented to help. However, if overused, they can certainly keep an elk from coming into bow range. Nobody ever said it was easy, but the more tools you have to increase the chances of success, the better.