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How to Hunt Public-Land Elk with Dieter Kaboth

Day 5: Hunting Pressure Makes Elk Move with Dieter Kaboth

Editor’s Note: Dieter Kaboth of Orofino, Idaho, a member of the Hunter’s Specialties’ National Pro Staff and longtime avid elk hunter, is a four-time World Champion elk bugler. Although Kaboth has hunted elk many times on ranch land, he primarily hunts public lands. He’s called-in hundreds of elk but only has taken 52. Most of the time he’s calling-in elk for friends and family members.

Click for Larger ViewThe more hunting pressure on an area, the better chance I’ll have to take a bull. Elk hunting is much like white-tailed deer hunting. When a number of people are in the woods, the deer move more than when fewer people are in the woods. Elk respond to hunting pressure the same way. I want to set-up a different hunting scenario than every other gun hunter is using on that public land.

The driving force for most elk hunters is, “The more ground I cover and the more ground I glass, the more likely I’ll get a shot at an elk.” I believe just the opposite is true. With all the hunters moving on public lands, I want to be the only hunter not moving in a place I believe elk will use as a retreat from hunters.

Click for Larger ViewThe type of area I’ll choose to set-up will be a north-facing slope with a lot of elk sign. I want to be able to watch a little opening about 70 to 100 yards in front of me. This type of opening is one most hunters will walk past. An elk will sneak through these little openings to come to you, rather than walking across a wide-open space where a hunter will see and shoot him. So, I’ll sit there and cow call.

In the state of Idaho, where I often hunt, hunters aren’t required to wear hunter orange during rifle season. But if I’m making elk sounds during rifle season, once again, I’ll be wearing hunter orange. Many of those hunters have cow tags and are just as happy to take cows as they are bulls. So, during gun season, regardless of where I’m hunting, when I’m calling, I’m wearing hunter orange, even in states that don’t require it. Common sense should play as big a role in your hunting as laws and regulations do. Common sense says that when you’re calling elk, breaking trees, kicking rocks and trying to sound like a herd of elk, make sure other hunters don’t mistake you for a herd of elk.

Click for Larger ViewIn 1988, I read an article written by Bill Monroe and published right after the Yellowstone fires, which reported that because the woods were dry, the hunter’s success on elk dramatically had decreased. He said hunters couldn’t slip-up on the elk without being heard. I thought that statement was strange, because every day during archery season that year, when I attempted to slip-up on an elk, I made elk noises to make elk think I was an elk and not a hunter moving through the woods. With this technique (moving and sounding like an elk), I got to within at least 100 yards of elk – definitely within rifle range of them. But I was hunting with a bow and had difficulty closing that distance to 20 or 30 yards. However, I wasn’t having any problems getting within rifle range. I started asking the rifle hunters, “Do you cow-call while you’re walking and hunting for a bull?” The answer I consistently got was, “No, I don’t need to cow-call. I’m a rifle hunter, and if I can see the elk, I can take him.”

Click for Larger ViewSo, I decided to rifle-hunt elk. While sitting on the Oregon coast one time on the edge of a clear-cut overlooking a small meadow, I watched a cow and a calf. I’d been there for a while when for no reason that cow and calf stood-up, bristled-up and starting walking-off. Five minutes later, I saw two hunters walk right by where those elk had been sitting, never aware of the fact the elk were within less than 100 yards of them. I learned then that by using the Lonesome Cow, the Squeeze Me Cow and the Fight’n Cow calls when I was walking through the woods during rifle season, instead of sounding like a hunter, I’d sound like a mature cow calling to a younger cow. Then I wouldn’t spook elk.

Since elk make a lot of noise when they move around, just like humans do when they’re walking through the woods, you can give the illusion of an elk walking through the woods by using cow calls. Too, you won’t spook nearly as many elk, and you’ll see and take more elk. The drier the woods are and the more noise you make as you walk, the more-essential cow-calling will be to your success, while you move through the woods. I use cow calls even when the woods are wet, but especially when they’re dry.

PHD ElkSecrets for Hunting ElkFor more information about hunting elk, check-out the new Kindle ebooks by John E. Phillips, “PhD Elk” and “Secrets for Hunting Elk,” both available by going to and typing in the names of the books. Too, you can download a free Kindle app to read the books on your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt Public-Land Elk with Dieter Kaboth"

Day 1: Dieter Kaboth Explains Bowhunting Elk on Public Lands
Day 2: Dieter Kaboth on the Elk’s Keen Ability to Smell – Especially on Public Lands
Day 3: Dieter Kaboth Says You May Run-Off Public Land Bulls
Day 4: How to Rifle Hunt Bull Elk on Public Lands with Dieter Kaboth
Day 5: Hunting Pressure Makes Elk Move with Dieter Kaboth

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Entry 674, Day 5