John's Journal...

More Ways to Take Bull Elk

Day 1: Getting Close to Take Big Bow Bull Elk with Phillip Vanderpool

Editor’s Note: Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, can get close enough to a bull elk to give him a kiss before he shoots him. Vanderpool will tell us how he does that almost every year and takes a bull with his bow.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Phillip, how do you get close to an elk?

Vanderpool: Before taking the shot, I evaluate the wind and the weather conditions to learn which way the wind is blowing. I also study the terrain to determine how to get close to that elk with a favorable wind. Most importantly, I use Hunter’s Specialties’ scent-elimination system to become as scent-free as possible. I wash my clothes and my body and spray-down my gear with Scent-A-Way products before I start hunting. Then I spray down as often as I can while I’m actually stalking the elk. Too, I use Cow Elk Urine and Fresh Earth Scent Wafers to cover my scent. Sometimes, regardless of what steps you take to eliminate your scent, an elk may still smell you, especially when you’re climbing mountains and sweating. I’ve learned that even if I’ve done everything right and sprayed down often, sometimes an elk will smell me. But if I’ve sprayed down continuously with Scent-A-Way, many times that elk won’t be sure of what he’s smelled. Then he’ll stop and stand there for 3 to 4 seconds, giving me a chance to get a shot before he leaves the area. Often those elk aren’t quite sure of what they’ve smelled when you’ve got human odor mixed with Scent-A-Way spray and Cow Elk Urine and Fresh Earth Scent Wafers.

Ckick for Larger ViewQuestion: One of the most-difficult challenges for most bowhunters is when an elk comes-in and stands out at about 100 yards bugling but won’t come any closer. How do you break that bull down and get him to come to you?

Vanderpool: That question has a two-part answer. If you have a caller with you, about 50- to 100-yards behind you and maybe off to the right or the left, besides calling the elk, the caller also will hold the elk’s attention on him and not let the elk focus on you. Therefore, you have a better chance of using the terrain to sneak in close enough to get a shot without being seen.

If I’m hunting alone, and the bull’s 100-yards from me and hung-up, I’ll make a call. If he answers me, I’ll inch-up another 15- or 20-yards closer to the bull. This way, the next time I call, the bull thinks I’m coming closer to him, and he may move closer to me. Sometimes I’ll use a young bull bugle or cow or calf calls to let that bull know I’m coming to him, so he should start moving toward me. I want to know what call that bull likes before I move any further. Does he like the cow or the calf call? Or, is he excited because he thinks I’m a young spike bull? Even though I may mimic the bugles the bull’s giving me, I don’t want to give calls back to him that will make him think I’m as big as or bigger than him. I want that bull to think I’m a young bull he can whip if he wants. You never want to sound bigger than the bull you’re trying to call, because if you do, you’ll scare him off. If the bull starts answering the bugle as quickly as I finish the call, I’ll continue to give the call to him because he’s telling me he likes it.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: What do you do when the elk comes-in and turns broadside to you but is looking straight at you?

Vanderpool: If that bull’s looking at me, and I’m at full draw, I’ve got that broadside shot, and the bull’s vitals are open, I’ll turn the arrow loose. But you have to be careful about range. That bull will react to the shot and drop-down just a little to jump before he runs. So, I always aim a little low under these conditions. Remember, elk can drop-down just like a white-tailed deer can.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: If that elk’s coming straight at you and looking at you, what do you do?

Vanderpool: Sit tight, and hope I’ve got a caller behind me who’s calling to that elk. Then that the elk will walk right past me toward the caller, giving me the chance to turn around after he passes me and get that quartering-away shot. When you’re in this situation – and I’ve been in situations like this before – your scent-elimination system really pays-off. If that elk is coming toward you head-on, you need the patience of Job to let that shot develop. Don’t force the shot, or you’ll spook the elk. Sit as still as you can, as if you’re the invisible man. Expect that elk to walk right past you. More than likely, anything else you do will be wrong.

PhD ElkSecrets for Hunting ElkTo learn more about elk hunting, click the title for “PhD Elk” and “Secrets for Hunting Elk” new eBooks for Amazon Kindle by John E. Phillips. Or, you can go to and type-in the names of the books to find them. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Tomorrow: Take All Your Calls on Elk Hunts with Phillip Vanderpool

Check back each day this week for more about "More Ways to Take Bull Elk"

Day 1: Getting Close to Take Big Bow Bull Elk with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 2: Take All Your Calls on Elk Hunts with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 3: Big Bull Elk in New Mexico with Nationally-Known Alex Rutledge
Day 4: Calling-in Big Bull Elk in Utah with Al Morris
Day 5: Top 10 Wolf Hunting Tips for Elk Hunters

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Entry 677, Day 1