Tips for Selecting and Using Elk Calls

Whether you are a new elk hunter, or you have been elk hunting for years, there is a lot that goes into being effective at calling elk. With so many different calls on the market, it can be a daunting task trying to select an elk call because each one has its own unique design features that create a unique spectrum of sounds and fit within your mouth.

Because everyone has a different mouth shape, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls produces diaphragms that have varying heights of “domes” to fit your mouth. The palate or roof of your mouth can be categorized by the following general shapes, flat, slight arch, medium, or high arch.

Palate Plate Diaphragm Frames

RTS (Rocky Top Series) – NEW for 2021, this is the latest generation of the original Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls palate plate frame. The RTS has a one-piece aluminum dome with a slight flare on the front edges of the frame to create consistent airflow over the latex. This frame is designed for medium mouth arches.

TST 2.0 (Tone Slot Technology) – NEW for 2021, the TST 2.0 frame is a one-piece aluminum slotted dome that is engineered to channel airflow over the center portion of the latex. This frame is designed for high arched, narrow mouths.

GTP (Golden Tone Plate) – This is the third generation of the original Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls palate plate frame which features a one-piece aluminum frame that is perfect for medium mouth arches

PPP (Plastic Palate Plate) – This is part of the second generation of the original Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls palate plate patent. It is manufactured on a narrow frame so that it fits a lower profile mouth or smaller overall palate sizes.

General Use Tips

If a diaphragm doesn’t fit your mouth properly, making realistic elk sounds is much more difficult. Because of this, you will want to do a little bit of testing to decide which type of diaphragm will give you good airflow pressure and seal around the call which will ultimately allow for easy octave changes and great sound characteristics. When looking at the frame that might be best for your palate, keep in mind that 75-80% fit the medium profile size found with the RTS, GTP, and PPP frames.

Within each frame design fit profile, there may be more than one type of “dome” construction which will affect characteristics for sound pitch, fit, and feel. There are a lot of hunters out there that have purchased diaphragms and attempted to trim the tape on the outside edges in order to create a better diaphragm fit, however, it is typically the frame that is poorly fitting and not the surrounding tape. The job of the tape is to provide a seal so that you can control the airflow over the latex. Any altering or cutting of the tape on diaphragms can impede the sound and overall function of the call.

Tongue pressure and placement on the latex is what is going to vary the sounds that you can make with your diaphragm. Imagine flattening a piece of gum in the roof of your mouth with the center of your tongue. You will use the thicker, center portion of your tongue, in the same manner, to apply pressure to the latex on the diaphragm.

Some hunters have been using diaphragm elk calls with great success while others have their gag reflex triggered preventing them from using a diaphragm elk call. But don’t worry, either way, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls has an elk call for you. RMHC diaphragms are specifically designed to sit further forward in the roof of your mouth, latex facing down, and the open end of the diaphragm towards the front of your mouth reducing any gag reflex that you may have.

An elk diaphragm is an instrument that must be learned. Learning to control the latex with singular notes from low to high to create basic sounds will allow you to advance by putting those sounds together to create elk sounds.

Once you have figured out which calls have the best fit and have mastered how to make elk sounds, it’s time to go hunting. You will want to bring along several different diaphragm calls and even external reed cow calls so that you can easily change the pitch and tones of the elk sounds that you are making. There are times when a bull won’t respond to a diaphragm and when you hit an external reed cow call, he will fire off a bugle or vice versa. You want to have as many tools at your disposal as possible so that you can modify your tone, pitch, and even the volume of your calls to get a bull to respond. Sounding realistic is the name of the calling game, and by simply changing the direction from which you blow the call will affect how it sounds to elk. Bugling facing behind you or turning your head side to side will all create a directional shift from the sounds that you are making.

When you are out there, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Elk make varying sounds. You don’t have to be perfect. Just get out there and try! You will be surprised how effective you can be at calling in a rutting bull.

And, if you are going to call, be prepared for a bull to be on top of you in seconds, be set up with some kind of breakup cover, your bow in hand, release on, etc. A bull can be in your lap in literal seconds and you don’t want to be caught unprepared without your bow in hand, standing out in the open.

What’s New For 2021

Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls were pioneers in elk calling, and today, they are leading the industry with design and innovation with the addition NEW calls just in time for hunting season.

Da Bull RTS Diaphragm – Da Bull is constructed with non-latex materials so that all hunters can use this diaphragm, even if you have a latex allergy. This call series continues the palate plate legacy and is created with the originality that makes an elk call great. Da Bull has tone pitches that allow cow/calf and bull sounds. $11.95

Elk Slayer RTS Diaphragm – The latex is stretched to create the nasal estrus cow sounds as well as mews, chirps, and whines. It can also produce the high pitch satellite bugles and easy octave changes for location bugles. $11.95

Raptor RTS Diaphragm – The latex is precisely stretched to produce the older excited cow estrus whines and cries. It also will create the deeper growls, chuckles, and screaming challenge bugle of herd bulls. $11.95

The All Star 2.0 TST Diaphragm – This call was designed by World Champion callers, Rockie and Corey Jacobsen. It was designed to be very versatile. It makes a nice variety of cow/calf talk as well as a great array of bugles. $8.95

The Champ 2.0 TST Diaphragm – This call makes small to medium cow, calf, and bull sounds. Also creates a more nasally cow sound and a higher-pitched screaming bugle. $8.95

The Contender 2.0 TST Diaphragm – This diaphragm call was used by Corey Jacobsen to win the 2018 RMEF Elk Calling Championships. A call designed to give the caller the option of bugling very aggressively or very passively. It also cow calls very well. $8.95

On Fire External Reed Cow Call- This medium-sized acrylic cow call has a smaller sound board and barrel. The narrow v-notched reed creates soft nasal mews, chirps, and great estrus whines. $24.95

Lil’ Flirt Externa Reed Cow Call- Designed in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Pro-Staffer, Matt Brimmer, this ultra-compact open reed call creates incredibly realistic cow/calf mews and chirps and is easy to use for all skill levels. The volume and tone are perfect for medium to short distance calling set-ups all for a great price. $11.95

The Bull Basher Bugle Tube – The Bull Basher is a hybrid aluminum and molded plastic barrel to help create high screaming pitches, deep growls for realistic and dynamic bull sounds. The mouthpiece is interchangeable with the standard 1 ½” opening or you can add the extender creating a 2” opening. Inside the tube, you will find the brand new “Splitter” which is designed to stabilize airflow, create easier octave changes and volume control. The short 18” length makes it easy to carry without compromising volume. The Bull Basher includes a water-resistant neoprene padded cover. $69.95

Little Big Mouth Bugle Tube – Weighing in at only 9 ounces, the compact size of the Little Big Mouth Tube makes it extremely easy to pack in the mountains. The all-aluminum tube creates high screaming bugles with crisp clear notes while creating more volume than many full-size bugle tubes. The Little Big Mouth utilizes the V.E.T.T. (Volume Enhanced Tone Technology) system mouthpiece in conjunction with a 1 1/2” mouth opening and a narrow throat that requires less air and creates optimal back pressure. The tube is covered by a water-resistant padded cover to eliminate unwanted sound while walking and to keep you protected from aluminum that can get cold on those crisp fall mornings and evenings. $49.95

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About the author: Kristy Titus was raised leading a pack string of mules into the backcountry of Oregon, experiencing the thrill of public land, fair chase, western big game hunting. She is passionate in the support of wildlife and habitat conservation, as well as being dedicated to protecting and defending our hunting traditions. She served on the Advisory Board for the Sportsmen for Trump Coalition, also serving as an ambassador for Safari Club International and is a member of the NRA Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Committee.Kristy is a Second Amendment advocate having served on the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors, and the NRA Youth Programs Committee. She is an NRA certified Basic Pistol Instructor, Refuse To Be A Victim Instructor and Range Safety Officer. Kristy is also a competitive shooter participating in the Precision Rifle Series and National Rifle League Series.As a Turning Point USA Ambassador, she advocates for freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, the constitution and conservative values.She hosts and produces Pursue The Wild, a digital television series airing on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. In her series, Kristy is educating viewers while inspiring movements that broaden the reach of conservation, strengthen support of the Second Amendment and increase shooting sports participation. Kristy is an outspoken Second Amendment advocate that has dedicated her life to teaching and promoting firearms, conservation and hunting.

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