Thursday, September 1, 2005
Using a game call is considered by some to be "active" hunting -- used instead of sitting motionless in a blind, the hunter is working to improve the chance of success.
There's one way to tell whether a hunter has used a game call correctly -- the sound is 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 novices to mimic the bugle of a bull elk, the quack of a duck or the call of a moose.
There's a call for any animal that makes noise.
Game calls for elk are popular, but many hunters use deer calls to stop the deer and get a better shot.
Elk calls aim to attract when the elk are in rut.
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, and they can be recordings or ones that hunters squeeze or blow.
Advanced calls -- reeds or diaphragms -- are for experienced users and can take hours of practice to master. Nielsen said they are more effective because they are 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 calls.
The advantages of using mouth calls can be summed up in two words -- price and convenience. Mouth calls are generally affordable, ranging from $2 to $15. Mouth calls are transported easily in most apparel pockets. They also are easy to handle, lightweight and easily stored.
The disadvantages of mouth calls vary. 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 volume.
Electronic callers offer the power output and duration needed in bad weather. Some come with rechargeable batteries and carry straps. Some also have speakers, which can be placed a short distance away to direct animals' attention away from hunters.
Unfortunately, the benefits are outweighed by one key consideration -- electronic calls are illegal in Colorado. Drawing animals by mimicking their sounds isn't just useful for hunters. Photographers and filmmakers use the same technique for their own kind of "shot."
Each call demands the appropriate calling technique, and the ways to become competent are to learn what the call should sound like, how often to call, and where and when to call.
Several books about calling techniques are available, but experience is touted as the best teacher.