Deep in the woods a bull elk calls. The sound will draw a cow elk. It also will bring other bulls in defending their territory from the challenge.
The one issuing the challenge can be a hunter, using an elk call to mimic the bugle of a bull.
Using a game call is considered by some to be "active" hunting -- used instead of sitting motionless in a blind.
Success is judged by reproducing a call realistic enough to fool an animal into the sights of a gun.
The art of calling animals used to be only for the practiced, but new devices allow even a novice to mimic the bugle of a bull elk, the quack of a duck or the call of a moose.
According to Dave Hutton, owner of Craig Sports, there's a call for any animal that makes noise and some for those that don't.
"Game calls are popular for elk, more so than deer, but hunters do use deer calls to stop (the deer) so they can get a better shot," he said. "Our main calls are for elk and deer but if they make noise and they'll come to a call, there's a call for it."
Elk calls aim to attract when the elk are in rut.
"Depending on the time of year and call you're using, they're very effective," Hutton said.
Becca Nielsen, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Bowstrings in Meeker, said game calls are essential in elk hunting where spot-and-stalk type hunting is virtually impossible.
Call types range from beginner to advanced, from a taped recording to ones that hunters squeeze to ones they blow.
Advanced calls -- reeds or diaphragms -- are for advanced users and can take hours of practice. Nielsen said they are more effective because they're more realistic than squeeze calls.
"If elk have been messed with at all, you have to be authentic," she said.
There are many styles and brands of mouth calls to choose from -- open reed, closed reed, semi-enclosed reed, plastic reed, metal reed, variable reed and interchangeable reed.
The advantages of using mouth calls can be summed up in two words -- price and convenience. Mouth calls are generally very affordable, ranging from $2 to $15. Mouth calls are easily transported in most apparel pockets. They are also easy to handle, lightweight, and easily stored.
The disadvantages of mouth calls vary from one type of call to the next. Some are easy to break, hard to clean or get out of tune easily. In windy situations, it may be difficult to blow a mouth call for an extended period of time with adequate calling volume.
Electronic callers offer the power output and duration needed in bad weather conditions. Some come with a rechargeable battery, carry strap and a speaker which can be placed a short distance away to direct the attention away from you.
Unfortunately, the benefits are outweighed by one key consideration -- electronic calls are illegal in Colorado. Drawing animals by mimicking their own sounds isn't just useful for hunters. Photographers and filmmakers use the same technique for their own kind of "shots."
Each call demands the appropriate calling technique, and the only way to become competent is to learn what the call should sound like, how much to call, where and when to call and other calling aspects.
Several books are available on tried and tested calling techniques.
Experience is touted as the best teacher. There are no "absolutes" in this type of activity, because nothing is set in concrete when it comes to dealing with wildlife in the outdoors. n