We have seen televised outdoor shows where a bow hunter stops a deer by vocalizing a deer bleat. The hunter will emit his vocalized bleat to cause the deer to stop at the spot he chooses for an ideal shot. This method works on elk, stopping them as effectively and reliably as a deer.
A less cautious bull will often approach with such enthusiasm that it is difficult to make a clean shot unless the hunter can make the elk stop. Making them stop without alarming them is the challenge. Using a cow call is an obvious choice, but can be awkward at full draw.
It is not that elk respond to deer bleats for the same reason that deer do, but more than likely, it puts them at ease and alleviates the concern for a threat. An elk is less concerned over its smaller cousin than an aggressive challenger.
The following example illustrates how effective a deer bleat can be. The author was kneeling on the ground as a Roosevelt bull came dozing in. The angle of the bull’s approach was nearly head-on and he was not slowing down. As he began to pass within ten yards, the hunter drew his bow.
The bull caught the movement and in one motion spun around and began a full-on gallop. The hunter quickly vocalized a loud deer bleat and the bull put on the brakes and stood, broadside, twenty yards away. The bull suddenly appeared relaxed and transfixed its gaze on the hunter who was already at full draw.
He released his arrow after taking his time and settling his sight pin solidly behind the front shoulder. The arrow hit its mark and the bull expired quickly after running a short distance. This is one example of many similar experiences from this hunter and others.
Vocalizing a deer bleat is quite simple. It is very similar to the sound that a sheep makes. There is nothing technical about it and it does not require practice. Simply say, “maaaa”. If he does not stop, do it again louder; he probably did not hear you. However, it will not stop a truly spooked elk.