Elk calls can be extremely useful in attracting Elk when you’re hunting or any other reason you need to deal with these beautiful animals. Elk has five different calls and these calls can be used to attract Elk. Elk is very vocal and so use their calls to communicate information to other Elk.
There are a number of different calls. The main ones are the Bugle which is also the name of the instrument which is the most typical Elk sound you can think of and is often used by the male bulls to show dominance, the Chuckle which generally comes after a bugle, distress sounds, cow sounds used to try to attract the bull and general elk sounds. That’s not a super-specific list, but you need to have the ability to make long and sustained sounds that can carry over a great distance like a bugle as well as shorter, more close-range sounds.
There are lots of different products out on the market. Today we’re going to be reviewing the five best Elk calls. Ideally, you’ll be able to make a few distinct sounds, at both short and long-range, so a combination of a few of these items below is what you’ll find in the kit of most hunters. If we had to pick one and we don’t want to, but if you force us, we’d say Carlton’s Calls is the most versatile and not too tricky for a beginner to get the hang of.
Top 5 Best Elk Calls
1. Bully Bull Extreme Elk Call
The Bully Bull Extreme Elk Call is a grunt tube, meaning it is for diaphragm calls the only one of this list! No reed here to assist the novice! That said, learning how to use a real bugle is pretty impressive, so for the serious hunter, it’s worth the practice and we wouldn’t stop anyone who wanted to invest a bit of time and have some fun learning.
The mouthpiece of the Bully Bull Extreme is really where the magic happens. It has a 1.25-inch mouthpiece which enables comfortable blowing but also means that no air is escaping, as you can kind of create an “airlock” for lack of a better term and means all the air in your lungs is going through the Bully Bull Extreme and coming out the end as a realistic sounding elk call. The tapered nature of the mouthpiece increases the pressure, meaning you can easily change octaves and sustain notes.
The Bully Bull Extreme is on the larger end of the scale coming in at 21.5 inches, but it comes with a strap, so it’s not too big nor too cumbersome to use. It weighs just under 12 ounces. It can take a bit of skill to get this one right, there’s no denying it, but once you’ve done it a few times, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty and you’ll be getting super realistic calls in no time!
2. Primos Hoochie Mama Call
This is the direct opposite of the Bully Bull Extreme! The Primos Hoochie Mama Call is a perfect call for beginners as it is a press-the-button type of machine that is small and compact and will allow you to make elk calls without any practice or any chance to stuff it up! With the Primos Hoochie Mama, all you have to do is press the button and you’ll get a pretty realistic set of calls. You have three to choose from: mews, lost cow noises and estrus cow noises, which you can change just by turning the dial.
It only requires one hand to use; unlike a diaphragm call, it comes in at only 11 inches and weighs only 8 ounces making it an easy addition to your kit. These calls are super helpful to have on hand if you quickly need to make a call or you don’t feel confident are unable to make a diaphragm call. Just press the button, no guesswork and no practice required.
The downside to these guys is that you are limited in the type of calls you can make there’s no chance to vary it or change it up. However, they work, so it’s an excellent little option to have around for close-range calls. The Primos Hoochie Mama is made of plastic and rubber, making it freeze-proof. An added bonus for the freezing winter mornings.
3. Primos IMAKA DA BULLCRAZY Elk Call
It has a fairly memorable name and thankfully it’s a great elk caller! IMAKA DA BULLCRAZY is a single reed cow call and it’s pretty easy to use. It’s 9 inches long and weighs less than 2 ounces! It’s truly compact! It comes with a tether strap, so all that’s left to do is put it on and get out there! Well, maybe a bit of practice first.
IMAKA DA BULLCRAZY is easier to master than a bugle and gives you more variety than the button-type calls. You can adjust the pitch by moving an O ring down the reed. Once you’ve got the pitch you want, you have to blow on the reed simple and you’ll be able to make a variety of different calls.
IMAKA DA BULLCRAZY has two models close and short-range, meaning these single-reed calls can be used at any distance. You can get pitch shifting by moving the reed in your mouth. It’s probably worth watching a few YouTube videos of other folks using this type of single-reed to see what we mean if you don’t already know.
Because you can control your pitch and change it when you’re making a call, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make estrus sounds, distressed sounds, and angry bull sounds. You can increase the volume if desired by pressing on the end, which increases pressure in the chamber.
Another option for close-range calls, but this one comes with a bit more variability in the calls you can make because YOU are in control and can vary the pitch and to a lesser extent the volume.
4. Primos Terminator Elk System Elk Call
The Primos Terminator is easy to use, single-reed bugle that can give you a variety of volumes and calls. Like any bugle, it takes a bit of practice but on the whole, the Primos Terminator is a great unit for the best cow elk calls. It comes in at 18 inches, although it only weighs just over 3 ounces. It can be a bit cumbersome, which is probably our only real complaint. For an easy-to-use bugle, we definitely like the Primos Terminator.
The mouthpiece is a standard reed style mouthpiece and it’s easy enough to snap in the Primos reeds. Take a few of them with you. Just in case one break. After you’ve snapped the reed into place, extend the Bugle and blow. With a bit of practice, you can make all sorts of very realistic calls and be getting responses! The Primos Terminator has the advantage of being easy to use but also being a bugle. It’s made of plastic but it’s ribbed, which means that it’s designed exactly like an Elk’s voice chamber helping it to achieve super-realistic calls.
5. Carlton’s Calls by Hunters Specialties Mac Daddy Elk Call
Carlton’s Calls is our second grunt tube on the list and comes in at just under 15 inches and only over 7 ounces. This is another single-reed bugle. Carlton’s Calls comes with a lever to vary the pitch and tone, so you don’t have to be a bugle expert. All you’ll need to do is blow through it, varying the amount you’re blowing to vary the pitch. If you remove the call you can use it alone as a cow call. All you have to do is blow on it and press up and down on the lever.
Carlton’s Calls is 14 inches long and just over 7 ounces. It’s made of plastic, with an infinity latex mouthpiece. As Carlton’s Calls are basically two different calls a cow call and a bugle, it gives you lots of different options for calls and it’s easy to assemble and disassemble. As with all the reed calls, bring an additional reed or two with you in case the reed breaks.
Another thing we really liked about Carlton’s Calls was the inclusion of a DVD. It might seem a little old-fashioned, but actually, it was full of helpful information. Rather than telling you guys to go on YouTube and try to find some helpful videos, it’s nice that they’ve gone to the trouble of explaining how to use their call correctly. Although this one is actually pretty easy to use, it’s still really worthwhile having someone breakdown the different types of calls and how to get those sounds with their call!
The Best Elk Call Buying Guide
The first thing to remember is that all of the models on our list are good quality and worthwhile investments if they fit your needs! That’s the ultimate secret to choosing any of the above. Consider your skill level, how much time you want to invest learning how to call, how much space you have, what other equipment you already have, and simply what you have been most comfortable with in the past if it’s not your first one.
So, in short, there’s no right answer to which one is best. We can recommend all the models above if they are going to fit your needs!
Size isn’t exactly the be-all and ends all of an elk call, but depending on how much stuff you usually bring and how many options you want to have, it’s undoubtedly one of the top considerations. The biggest models on our list are unsurprisingly the bugles, but they are also the ones which with a skilled user tend to make the best calls.
So it’s a trade-off. With a bugle, you are essentially in control of all the variables reducing the need to bring other types of calls but they come at a space premium. IMAKA DA BULLCRAZY was the most compact by far and could make a variety of sounds, but wasn’t quite as good as a bugle for those long-distance sounds. That’s the payoff! The Hoochie Mama was the second smallest, but it was a bit less versatile.
This is actually a pretty easy one. All of the models are made of hard plastic here, some have reeds, some have bits of rubber, but in order to keep them light, and not too expensive, all of the models went with hard plastic. You won’t find wood or anything very commonly in this class because even if the call is on the bigger side when you’re carrying it around all day, you want it to be light and not to weigh you down.
Types of Calls & Uses
As we noted above, you are really going to need some variability in your calls. The bugles offer the longest range calls, so you can try to attract Elk even if you have no idea where they are. Depending on the day will also depend on your strategy; that’s why it’s such a thrill because there’s no one size fits all solutions. Some days you might find all your calls, and maybe your prayer is answered, whereas other days, you will seemingly be calling out to nobody.
Bugles are generally great but they are a learning curve – you can’t just grab one and head out. While we think it’s pretty fun and cool to be able to use a real grunt tube to make those elk calls, the truth is that not everyone is as invested in practicing and perfecting their calls as we are.
The reed bugles really are highly recommended as they bridge the gap offering almost all of the advantages of a real bugle or grunt tube but without the learning curve that accompanies a bonafide bugle. The Hoochie Mama was good, forgetting consistent cow calls, and if you have any reason to avoid the other types of calls, it could be a good option. Just make sure when you’re choosing, you’re thinking about the fact you’ll need long-range and short-range calls and then factor in your skill level!
There are lots of different things to consider when you are thinking of buying your next (or maybe your first) elk call. Ultimately you should try to go for something that fits your needs and your skill level and if you’re serious, you’ll probably want a few different types of elk calls so you can use the one that will best suit you at the moment. There’s no one type that’s perfect. Having said that, if we HAD to choose one as we said at the beginning, we might go with Carlton’s Calls.
It comes in last on our list, but it’s a sneaky favorite, being an easy to use single-reed Bugle, that double as a cow call when you remove the Having said that, don’t be swayed if you don’t want to practice and just want to get out there. The model that is right for you is the model that best fits your needs.
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