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Hunterís Specialtiesí Pro Al Morris Wins the 2009 World Elk Calling Contest

Calling Judges vs. Calling Elk

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Hunter’s Specialties is extremely proud of its pro, Al Morris of Payson, Utah, who started working part time for Hunter’s Specialties in 2001 and became a full-time Hunter’s Specialties’ pro in 2005. Not only did Morris and his partner, Garvin Young, win the World Coyote Calling Contest this yeClick to enlargear, but Morris recently won the 2009 World Elk Calling Contest, making him the first person to win two World Calling Contests in separate species events. Contestants in the professional division must make specific calls, such as cow and calf calls, barks, whistles, growls and screaming bugles for the judges. The World Elk Calling Championship helps raise awareness of elk habitat and the conservation initiatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Question: Al, what’s the difference in the calls you use in an elk-calling contest andthe calls you use when you’re hunting elk?
Morris: Elk are much easier to call to than judges. Through the years, I’ve field dressed over 680 elk, and all those elk have been much easier to call-in than the judges in the World Elk Calling Contest. When you’re calling judges, you’re in an unnatural environment as a caller. When I’m calling to elk, I’m in the elk’s environment in the woods and the mountains. I’m reading the emotional Click to enlargetemperature of the elk and often watching the body language and the voice of the elk to determine what he wants to hear next, based on his feedback. But when you’re in a calling contest, you’re on stage with 400 people watching you, and your emotions play more heavily on you than they do when you’re in the wild. When I’m in the woods and the mountains, I’m trying to get inside the elk’s head to Click to enlargeunderstand him and to make the sounds he wants to hear before he knows it to make him come to me. But when you’re calling the judges, you don’t really know what the judges want to hear, and I never know how I’ll be scored.

Judges have a scoring range from 1 to 20, and sometimes one judge will give me a score of 10 on the call, and another judge sitting next to him will give me a score of 18 on the same call. With humans, you never know what they’ll do after they hear my call. But with a bull elk, I can tell what he’ll do after he hears my call. I’ve won several bets with hunters after I’ve called to a bull elk and had him call back to me. I’ll look at my hunter and say, “I’ll have that elk in front of you in 10 minutes or less.” Many times my hunters will look at me, grin and say, “If you can put that elk in front of me in 10 minutes or less, I’ll eat my hat.” And on several occasions, the elk has come-in within less than 10 minutes, and I’ve looked at my hunter and say, “Do you want that hat baked, broiled or fried?”

Tomorrow: Learning How Elk Think

Check back each day this week for more about "Hunterís Specialtiesí Pro Al Morris Wins the 2009 World Elk Calling Contest"

Day 1: How Al Morris Became a Calling Champion
Day 2: Al Morris’ Favorite Calls
Day 3: Calling Judges vs. Calling Elk
Day 4: Learning How Elk Think
Day 5: Secrets of Elk Calling


Entry 501, Day 3