Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak Pro Lisa Thompson of Littleton, Colorado, who’s married to her hunter husband Keith and has twin daughters, is one of the most-knowledgeable and physical elk hunters you'll ever meet. She’s also a mom, a business woman, a basketball player and an expert woodswoman. A member of Cabela’s and Nock On, that produces lighted nocks for arrows, pro staffs, Thompson’s successful at taking big bulls on public lands. If you'll apply the tips and tactics she suggests this week, you’ll have a much-greater chance of filling your elk tag on public lands this fall instead of returning home with an elk tag in your pocket.
Donnelle Johnson (my hunting partner) (see Day 3) and I both do a lot of cow calling. Even though we may be using the same cow calls, we sound like different cow elk. Regardless of whether we’re giving just a single cow call or a series of cow calls mixed with hyper hot cow calls, we still sound like different cow elk. We've found that this style of calling has been very beneficial for us.
Donnelle is an awesome bugler. I believe she can make a bull bugle back to her when he really doesn’t want to talk. Oftentimes, we’ll locate a bull with a bugle. Then, we cow call the bull into where one of us can take the shot. I like to use a hyper hot cow call that sounds like an elk cow mew with a pause followed by a second mew. This is a sound that a cow elk makes when she’s in estrus. The hyper hot cow call isn’t like a chirp but is a little longer with a pause in-between the two different mews. Often, I go up to Rocky Mountain National Park (http://rockymountainnationalpark.com/) with my binoculars to just watch and listen to elk and see what sounds cause the bulls to come to the cows.
Two years ago Donnelle’s husband, Dave Johnson, asked Donnelle if she and I would go with him and do the calling for his bow elk hunt. We had been hunting hard for a few days. So, we decided to sleep in and forego the morning hunt. We got up at about 10:00 or 11:00 am and got on top of a ridge. Donnelle was in front, Dave was behind her, and I was 40 yards behind Dave. Donnelle gave a cow call. Before she finished her call, I gave a hyper hot cow call. We barely got those calls off before two bulls answered us. The three of us got big-eyed. We agreed that there was no way those bulls should be bugling at 1:00 pm.
Donnelle and I started giving some hyper hot cow calls. Donnelle would throw in a few mews and some calf calls. The bull started bugling and coming to us. We had Dave set-up about 50 yards in front of us. The bulls we had heard bugling were off the side of a ridge. We left Dave on the top of the ridge, facing the direction the bulls had bugled from, and we walked about halfway down the ridge behind Dave. Donnelle went about 50 or 60 yards away from me. She’d do a cow call, and just before she’d finish the call, I would call on top of her call, and the bulls would go crazy bugling.
The first bull to come in was a 5x6, and Dave drilled him with his PSE (www.pse-archery.com) bow. Just as the 5x6 was expiring, a huge 6x6 bull came in, and Dave felt sick. The 6x6 was much bigger than the 5x6 that he’d just harvested. After he had taken his bull, Dave told us, “Your calling was perfect. Y’all really sounded like two different cows talking to those same two bulls.” When the big 6x6 was 20 yards from us, we videoed him. That big, majestic, 320-340 Boone & Crockett bull came in and started staring at us for 30 seconds or more. He was massive.