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Which elk bugles are best?

To the uninformed ear, there are few things as terrifying while on a hunt as hearing a bull elk calling. During the rutting season, bull elk produce a gut-wrenching sound to attract challengers for dominance. Hunters looking to attract game will want to be able to emulate this sound as best they can.

For many years, researchers have been puzzled as to how large elk can produce the high-pitched two-tone sound. But luckily you don’t have to stretch your throat muscles to call like an elk, as you can simply use bugles like the Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Complete Calling System.

What to know before you buy an elk bugle

Learn how to use it

Any call that you are going to use for hunting should produce an accurate and realistic sound. It is important that you learn how to produce the correct elk sounds with the bugle. If you don’t, it won’t have the intended effect and can scare off a prized bull. Remember, elk are dangerous, so you’ll want to keep your distance when calling. Camouflage can help you stay hidden and a good pair of hunting binoculars can ensure that you stay the recommended 30 meters away from your potentially aggressive target. 

Increase your hunting success with friends

If you are not an experienced hunter, you might struggle to get the correct sound. But even if you do, you won’t have much success if you hunt by yourself. To attract a bull elk, you need to sound inviting. And a single cow won’t be enough to lure the bull your way if it already has a few cows of its own to look after. You’ll have more success with your bugle if you hunt with a friend. This way, you can produce the sound of multiple cows, which is sure to get the bull’s attention.

Easy to use and carry around

With your rifle and equipment already taking so much space and effort, you don’t want to contend with a cumbersome bugle as well. Consider how much hiking you will be doing, and how portable your chosen bugle is. Ideally, it will be small enough that you can put it in your pocket or quickly throw over your shoulder. 

What to look for in a quality elk bugle

Versatility in your calling

The key to attracting a prized elk is to have vocal range in your calling. Getting the attention of a bull elk is great, but if you can lure cows and fawns as well, that’s even better. A quality elk bugle will have the ability to produce different calls to lure the elk that you are after. 

Easy to maintain

An elk bugle comes in several sizes and forms, but all of them should be easy to maintain. A quality bugle will be able to withstand tough environments and still produce sounds in varying temperatures. It should also be easy to maintain and keep clean. Most of the high-end bugles can be taken apart and cleaned out, while some can have their inner parts replaced.

Accurate and realistic sounds

The calling of an elk bull might sound to the inexperienced hunter as a loud noise of shrieking proportions. But that elk bugle needs to be convincing to any elk. Inferior bugles can, on occasion, emit sounds that aren’t as realistic. What sounds like a cacophony of notes and chords to you, will be music to the elk’s ears. 

How much you can expect to spend on an elk bugle

An affordable elk bugle retails for between $20-$30, but that also depends on who the manufacturer is and the capabilities of the device. A complete elk calling system, which includes a call to attract cows, can retail for between $50-$70.

Elk bugle FAQ

Does an elk bugle have replaceable parts?

A. This will depend on the elk bugle that you buy. Some bugles do have removable mouth reeds, which can be replaced if the current one is damaged or worn out. Check the manufacturer details and specifications if you want a product with a little more longevity.

How do you maintain an elk bugle?

A. It should be fairly simple to keep your elk bugle clean and free from dust. The outside can be wiped down with a soft, moist cloth and the inside should be dust-free by simply blowing into it a couple of times.

What are the best elk bugles to buy?

Top elk bugle

Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Complete Calling System

Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Complete Calling System

What you need to know: This is the perfect calling system to attract a wide range of elk.

What you’ll love: The complete calling system includes the all-star diaphragm elk call, the Temptress open-reed cow call and a Bully Bull extreme grunt tube. All the gadgets in the system are made from robust materials and are easy to use. They don’t take up a lot of space, so you can carry them with you during the hunt. The system is easy to use even for beginner hunters.

What you should consider: You will need to practice before hunting to get the calls just right.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top elk bugle for money

Primos Hunting 946 Elk Call

Primos Hunting 946 Elk Call

What you need to know: The Primos elk bugle is an effective elk bugle that is easy on the pocket.

What you’ll love: With a soft, flexible chamber, this elk bugle makes for quiet calling. The chamber also allows you to produce a wide range of sounds and is small enough to easily carry around. The patented mouthpiece comes with a support shelf and uses the Primos Blue reed.

What you should consider: Some users have indicated that care must be taken to not blow on it too hard, as the reed can break.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Berry Game Calls Thunder Bugle

Berry Game Calls Thunder Bugle

What you need to know: Berry Game Calls makes an elk bugle that can be customized to your liking.

What you’ll love: The Thunder Bugle is a simple device to use, and an effective method for attracting elk. Made in the state of Montana, it features thin replaceable RT-reeds that can be snapped into the bugle in seconds. This allows for interchangeable custom sounds to span the elk’s calling range.

What you should consider: It is longer than most bugles, so storing it correctly can be a nuisance.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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