Bugling and Cow Calling Elk

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian has Jason Phelps on to talk about tips and strategies to calling elk during the rut!

Jason is the founder and operator of Phelps Game Calls, a hunting call company that makes some of the highest quality elk calls on the market. Jason is an avid western hunter and spends a majority of his time in the fall out in the wild. Jason and Brian talk about elk calling strategies, different types of calls, and even talk about Mule Deer Calling for a short bit. Check out the links below to learn more about Jason or to check out Phelps Game Calls!



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Show Transcript

Brian Krebs: Welcome back to another Western Rookie Podcast episode. I'm your host, Brian Krebs, and today we have a special guest. Mr. Phelps game calls himself. Jason Phelps is on the call and I have a feeling we'll talk mostly about. Calling strategies for mature mule deer. How does that sound, Jason?

Jason Phelps: Perfect.

That's what I was writing my wheelhouse.

Brian Krebs: Man. If you [00:01:00] ever invent a call that works on mature mule deer, that would change the game because that's like mature mule deer, one of the hardest things to really target because there's, they don't pattern, they don't call,

Jason Phelps: they don't make noise. So we can get into a little tip we've been doing.

We haven't shared it a whole lot and I don't know if I want to talk about it a whole lot, but there's been a little thing we've been doing and it really works if there's like a fence line or a boundary that's in your way oh. And interesting. And you need to get 'em on your side so we can touch on that maybe a little bit.


Brian Krebs: Yeah, no. In more realistic terms. I was thinking with September, right around the corner, elk season's coming. I'm going to Colorado with a bow. In three weeks, I'm sure you're spending a majority of September in the woods. So I was thinking maybe more elk calling would be a more

Jason Phelps: appropriate topic.

That's maybe a little more my wheelhouse than calling mule deer. But yeah, I'm on a, I'm going to go on a. I cherry picked a, a rifle early September hunt, not for me, I'm going to go help on it, and then as soon as that one's done, we'll jump in the woods and start archery all cuntin for myself, those

Brian Krebs: early, those opportunities for [00:02:00] early rifle hunts in September, man, are they magical. I drew a North Dakota tag four years ago, opened up September 6th. And you could use any weapon for the entire fall. So September 6th to January 1st, any weapon beautiful unit. And it was open. So you could hear from a long ways away and I bugled and called in a bull to, called in a bull to 375 yards,

Jason Phelps: But it was awesome.

This is a 11 year old kid drew a special tag and never killed a bull before. So I, and I know the area pretty well. So it'd be fun to go in there and, call for him. Like I say, you're not going to call all the way in, but call it out into the open. And yeah, it's just, those are those fun hunts to be on.

Cause there's not a lot of pressure. Things are working better than they're supposed to. And

Brian Krebs: yeah, that's a rare, that's a rare thing in Elkwoods. It went better than it was supposed to, but you do quite a bit of those. Where you would be like, not a guide in an official capacity, but like a mentor hunt, maybe if you will, you, that's pretty common for you.

[00:03:00] Isn't it?

Jason Phelps: Yeah. I love just going out and helping cause we were all there at one point where it's man, I struggled through stuff and I, and now that it's all clicked it's nice to go and help and maybe. Maybe come up with plans that some people would never think of or wouldn't do or wouldn't do this or that and so I love being a part and being able to give you know bits and ideas that will hopefully turn into success And like I said, this one's a little bit I don't want to say cheating But it makes it look like I know exactly what I'm talking about because it's September 1st and we have a rifle

Brian Krebs: Everyone likes feeling like they're an expert and when you get those special hunts where you're like, man Things are going good.

I'm calling in these bulls. We're getting a chance to maybe, what's really rare when you go out West, especially if you don't live in the West. So I'm from Minnesota. A lot of our listeners are probably from the Midwest and they go out. And so something that's really rare, I think for our demographic is the ability to like look at an animal and say, I'm going to let him go and we'll remember where he is.

And we'll come back later. Typically it's the other camp. It's that's a legal [00:04:00] bull. We have five days. We got to shoot and you never get a chance to maybe look at one and pass one up. And I love getting hunts or opportunities where you can really take your time and then like savor every moment of it.


Jason Phelps: Yep. And I struggle passing bulls still, the way I was raised grandpa getting through the great depression, my dad and uncles, like we were just anything that was legal was getting, we were notching our tags on it. And so I grew up that way. And it's not until just the recent past where you start to get better tags or better opportunities.

And you've had to like, I've had to learn real quick, all the bigger stuff I had killed earlier on was just because that happened to be the first one to walk in.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, I have the same story, but all the bigger stuff I killed early on was because I got incredibly fortunate with draws and I drew a once in a lifetime take.

So my first elk I ever killed was a 354 inch bull. And then I It's

Jason Phelps: real tough to Yeah. To progress from there.

Brian Krebs: It's tough to say I'm going to go bigger every year. And then the next bull I shot the next year, Colorado Game and Fish gave me four extra bonus points. And so I went from zero to [00:05:00] five in one year, and I'm like, I waited for two months.

Cause they switched up their system and their online processing website. And I waited for two months and I was like, this has got to be a mistake. They're going to take this back and they never left. So I'm like I'll apply for a five point unit. And then I got a really nice two 80, which I think is nice.

I don't know. I'd love to get your thoughts on this. So it seems like with the social media craze and elk and everyone wants to shoot a bowl, like everyone, it seems like everyone, it's not cool if it doesn't start with a three.

Jason Phelps: Yeah. I have a major bone to pick with this whole ideology. Matter of fact, I was answering emails from Cutting the Distance podcast yesterday.

Yeah. And some guys had tags and they were asking me about an area that he had a tag for and what's the top end bull and what should I hold out for and shoot and I didn't want to be rude to the guy or insult him, but I'm like, what have you killed to this point? And he, I think he had said he either had, he had hunted elk one year before or killed one elk.

I'm like, As much as if it's not a, if it's not a premium tag[00:06:00] and the opportunities aren't going to present themselves over and over throughout the hunt, like you have to start somewhere. You have to put yourself through that situation. Calm your nerves. You have to be like, aside from you, like in your experience, like the likelihood of your first bull being a giant, like I've got rafters loaded with rags.

And when I say raghorns, I'm talking about bulls you don't nobody even takes a picture of because they're too small like where I grew up hunting Roosevelt specifically on the coast. I've literally got 150 inch elk that I, and that's what we killed their four points or four by fours. They've got five inch eye guards or brow tines, whatever you want to call them.

They've got maybe a six inch fork and they're. Yay tall and I grew up, like I said, was told to shoot every one of those every time. And, as long as I had a tag and so that's what I grew up shooting and then it made it easier. It's I've been here a lot of times before.

The only thing different now is that this bull's got a bigger horns on its head, and I was able to control that because I had been in that situation so many times it just makes that next [00:07:00] step easier. And that's if you haven't killed a bull, like I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I would think awful hard unless you're in a super premium unit, take whatever gives it.

An opportunity and, all of this stuff on social media has got this idea that there's these perfect running, three 20 inch six points running around and every good unit. And it's just not even the case. Like I've wanted some really good units and some of these really good states and man, we've had a heck of a time, even digging up three 20 bulls when these, are very sought after tag.

So they're not behind every tree. And I think people need to concentrate or focus on becoming good at killing elk before they become good at killing big elk.

Brian Krebs: Oh, yeah. And I was going to say the same thing in a different way, but like everyone thinks the 300 is the number oh, it's not big unless it's three.

And I'm thinking I challenge anyone that's never shot a bowl before to look at a 250 at 30 yards and say it's not a big bowl. The average man's big bowl starts with a 250, 240. You get a 240 inch 5x5, he's got a good [00:08:00] frame, he's got good almost everything. He's not obviously the same size he doesn't have the same frame as a 300 But that's a respectable bull.

And that's, I think it's just helpful to set your standards in a realistic way of that. Most people shoot two sixties, yeah, most people's big bull is a 2 65 by five, five by six, maybe a little a six by six. And like you said, I would have a hard time passing something I haven't shot before.

So like with my bow, I've never shot an elk If I get a chunky looking calf come through with a nice shot, he might be in trouble,

Jason Phelps: Yep. No, shoot what makes you happy, not what you think will make everybody else happy or, think that you're good. It's, I think we've gotten that trap where everybody's I want to, shoot something bigger, or at a certain level.

And it's just, it takes a lot away from it, I think. Go out there, have fun,

Brian Krebs: and the success rates, if you, usually, if you're contemplating what you should shoot, what you shouldn't shoot, you're probably self guided, right? Because if you're going on a guided hunt, usually you have a better ballpark in mind, you're [00:09:00] talking to your guide, is this a good animal?

But if you're going solo, like especially solo archery, which is really what we're talking here when we're talking about calling elk, the numbers are all over the place. Some people say 10%. I think that's maybe more so universal elk hunting. I would say like it's probably closer to five or maybe even less than 5%.

You might even know better than me, but that's just tagging an elk, much less if you did that statistic for someone that tags a 300 plus, that's probably less than half a percent.

Jason Phelps: Yeah. In my home state, we're sitting around four to 5 percent on your general tags. A little bit higher on, especially, Wyoming generals, the anomaly where they're, they float around that 30%, but Wyoming has it so dang good when you can even draw one of their generals.

But yeah, I. I would say, if you just take five, five to 10 percent as your average success, I would bet 90 percent of those bowls or what we would consider, rag horns or under that two 50 mark you already laid out and I would bet one to 2 percent of the bowls harvested are going to be above that mark.

So it's it's, Oh, you're saying like

Brian Krebs: [00:10:00] of the 5%. Only one or 2 percent of those bulls or

Jason Phelps: 10%. Yeah. Yeah. I would say like 10 percent of the bulls harvested are probably big. So when you take 10 percent of 10 percent success, you're now down to one or 2 percent of being successful and killing a big bull.

And then I'm going to add another variable in or a factor is if you're not experienced, the chance of you getting into that one to 2 percent club is. Cause those guys that have it figured out and know what they're doing every year, they're more likely to be the guys taking those bigger bowls. So it's just, you're just stacking the odds extremely high against yourself when you're going out to specifically kill a big bowl.

And is that,

Brian Krebs: is there any resident versus non resident baked into that statistic yet? Or is that still, I would assume residents. By as a stereotype, residents are more successful than non residents on any given state. So like the people that live in Wyoming are going to have a little bit better odds than the people that travel to Wyoming to hunt, unless it's like across the state line, [00:11:00] but like Minnesota,

Jason Phelps: I'm going to, I'm going to put a stat out there that's unbacked, but at least like the group that we run with, the guys out West that also travel around, I would say we're more successful than the end state.

And it's more of a, we're going there to get after it. This is what we do. Sure. We, and the residents have had it so good for so long. Like I think we put in effort now, not doc, I know you're, I don't want any hate mail, but maybe the guys coming from the East that don't get to live in the West and hunt elk, like when I go to, when I go to other States, that's my second or third hunt for that year, right?

Like I'm traveling where you guys may travel as your one elk hunt. So I think the stats, and I can't. Give you statistics. I think it's pretty comparable, like resident to non resident for the most part. Okay. That's right. Yeah. But I still think yeah, when you go there you just have to realize what the likelihood is.

If you set that as your goal and move forward on that and [00:12:00] legitimately pass bowls that are smaller than that, like your chance of success is very slim. Do

Brian Krebs: you, this kind of makes me think of something. Do you watch the show Yellowstone? I do. Yep. Okay. So you remember when when they're, when Travis is, they're racing horses and Jimmy's trying to win money.

And rip goes, Jimmy, there's sharks and minnows in this world. And if you don't know which one you are, you ain't a shark. I feel like that kind of goes for passing elk. There's guys that pass elk and there's guys that don't. And if you don't know which one you are, don't pass

Jason Phelps: the elk. And the other, like you can keep adding little factors to this all day long.

Like we've become very good at scoring bulls, but I'm going to be the first one to admit that I may go into a hunt. With a, let's say if if I have a really good tag, a three 40 minimum, like a really premium unit, when a three 20 bull or a three 10 bull comes screaming at me, turning his head in that moment, like I just lost the ability to count 30 inches at time.

It's you get caught up on, you look at these trail

Brian Krebs: camera, white tills, all summer. And you're like, this has to be a one 50. And then he sheds his velvet. He [00:13:00] turns into a one 40 or one 30. It's like the opposite with elk, like on a picture, you can just be the perfect scientist on measuring all these inches, but when he is standing at 20 yards and he's taller than you and you're, you finally realize how big these things are.

I very rarely do they. Were you? I don't, I just, I feel like if you, like you said, if if you're an elk passer, you'll know, right? Like you gotta tag, I'm not shooting two hundreds, I'm not shooting the acorn. But if you don't know. I feel like any elk you shoot, you're going to be happy.

You're going to be proud of it. You're going to have that rush of adrenaline. You're going to get the shivers and like that cold wave that washes over you. And that's good. That's why we do it. You're not going to be upset, especially if you're new, like if you're new to elk hunting and you're wondering what you should shoot, just shoot an elk.

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Jason Phelps: Maybe and they're delicious. Oh, they're delicious. So it's like any of them you shoot and sometimes Those bigger bulls aren't as good as the, so it's like just, yeah, like you said, just shoot an elk that your tag is good for, and then maybe try to progress the following year now that you've got that under your belt.

Yeah, I

Brian Krebs: think the real thing you should be asking yourself is not like, should I wait for a 300? It's how do I set up my life to do this every year? And if I elk hunt 10 years in a row. And maybe I, towards the end of that, I start getting up into that 20, 30 percent success rates. Now I'm shooting a bull every three years or so.

You just start stacking odds in a different way. And eventually you'll shoot a big one. Like you spend more time in there, you'd get better. Eventually you will shoot that big one. And the best part is you're getting elk along the way. You get a cow along the [00:16:00] way, a rag horn. Like you said, you're eating elk.

They're delicious. Yeah.

Jason Phelps: And just that experience for when the big one does come along, you've been there before, nerves are going to be a little more controlled. All of that, we.

Brian Krebs: We we archery hunt every year. We've got a group, the core group is pretty much the same every year. Now it's grown to about eight people.

So we have a pretty big archery camp and I remember this one hunt. It was 2018 in Wyoming is our favorite spot. Wyoming is by far our favorite state because we're always general. We're never, we haven't done it's hard to draw eight limited entry tags to keep your group together. So if anyone draws a limited entry, they always break off for that season.

And we had eight, seven guys that year in Wyoming, and we had, I believe, it was either 37 or 39 bowls, vocal, within 60 yards. And we had two shot opportunities and got one of them. It, even when it goes right even when you get that bowl in no one's out there trimming lanes for ya.

Jason Phelps: Yeah, so many variables. And that's the thing, like the amount of elk I can call into a hundred yards [00:17:00] versus the ones I can get to 60 yards versus the ones I can get to 40 yards versus the ones that I actually have a clear shot out. Like it's exponentially cut every step of the way. And yeah, you just.

Yeah I don't, we don't, I don't want to dwell on it too much. It's just, yeah, if you're trying to do certain things out there, take the opportunities given to you and have

Brian Krebs: fun, do whatever's fun for sure. Do whatever's fun. So on, on more on the calling. So let's talk like you're not, maker and businessman about calls, right?

You're not the Jason Phelps. You're not the Corey Jacobsons. You're not the Donnie Drake's or Donnie Vincent or. You don't go by the bugler on Instagram, you're just a guy and you're trying to figure this whole elk hunting out. Does that change the strategy compared to maybe how you would hunt?

Do you hunt different than you would maybe recommend a newer elk hunter call, like what they're calling strategies? Because I know a lot of people, they, they take on, and maybe Corey Jacobson is well known for saying it, but he's I don't care about every elk. I [00:18:00] just want to find the one that wants to play that day because I just love the interaction.

I'm not here to tag out. I'm here to interact with the bull. So they'll, it's the run ridges and bugle strategy. And I think a lot of people hear that and they go, Oh, that's what I should do. But there's a lot of, there's a lot that goes into that strategy too. And it's, I'm just asking, is that the strategy you would recommend to someone just starting out?

Jason Phelps: Yeah. So that's, we use that same strategy, right? I want to find a vocal bowl. I'm here for a specific reason. I'm trying to find that, that specific interaction. For a new hunter, what I would recommend, and people don't like it because it may not lead to success as quickly. When I was a student of the game, what, 30 years ago, 30 to 25 years.

I'm still a student. Don't get me wrong. I learn every year, but like when I was really learning, because I grew up as a rifle hunter, a muzzleloader hunter we learned woodsmanship. We learned how to track elk, not make a sound. You sneak up on them in their beds or in the timber and you would shoot out, 90 percent of our elk would come out of the timber, 10 percent out of clear cuts where I'm from.

And so [00:19:00] we learned that way. But as a new archery hunter, I was I would consider myself a sponge. I wanted to know everything about what the elk were doing. Let's say we're, we've got elk down below us, beagle and Adam, and we can hear them go off in the distance. I wouldn't just chase the elk.

I wanted to go down to where they were like how long are they here? Have they been here for multiple days? Have they, is this where, is this their bedroom? Is this where they're comfortable? Why are they comfortable here? And I'm like, people that don't know, like I'm a an engineer. By trade, that's what I was educated for, but it's really the only way my brain works.

Like I'm very tactical, technical. I think there should be a reason for everything that's going on. And so like in my brain, I needed to know why are they here? What did I do back there with my calling or my approach? And then why are they going over here? So I was very analytical and I spent a lot of time investigating when I should have nowadays, I would maybe not go check them out.

Cause I don't need to know that anymore. I'd go chase the elk. Where they're at. But back then when I was learning [00:20:00] and it'll, I would never be able to replace it no matter how many of our YouTube videos or educational pieces we put together. You'll never replicate like what you're able to get when your boots are dirty, your hands are dirty, you're out there in the woods like trying to learn about these animals.

Now, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what I learned like in that scenario that now helps, but I think it just makes me like a... It made me a more well rounded, educated Elkhunter and not to diverge too far here, but when I do my seminars, like there's a lot of things that you can attribute. Elk hunting success too, right?

There's guys like my buddy Lampers and Brian Barney who could probably just run the elk down and get them to pass out, so they can use like their physical fitness to do it. And then there's guys, me and Dirk, maybe not, in the same physical realm that those guys are, but we use a lot of our, or elk calling and then it's what do all of these guys have?

There has to be like a similar vein aside from like a mental capacity. And really what it comes down to is just knowledge of elk. Like they know of Elker in this [00:21:00] situation doing this thing. This is the approach we need to do, whether it involves spot and stock or an ambush or a calling setup, the thing that all ties back to guys that are successful is your knowledge of elk.

And I feel like some of the stuff. Going back to what I was saying when I would go investigate everything I thought an elk was doing or where they were at, where they were at in August and how their patterns changed from August to September and why did they change like that all just fills up your toolbox of elk hunting knowledge and you may be able to use that throughout a hunt or it just makes you more confident and comfortable with your decisions and as things don't go your way, you're just like I know these things better, than I used to, or I know more about them and I'm going to be all right.

I'm going to change the decision, change my decision making process and we're going to be good. I, yeah, I would say rather than run ridges and bugle don't be afraid now, I'm gonna say this with a caveat, if you're hunting, it might not be a great time, but don't be afraid to drop into a bedding area and just See what's going on.

Be smart about it. Don't get winded if [00:22:00] there's elk there and if you're actively hunting, but I would drop into bedding areas. I would go, I would go to a spot where maybe I can't call from here and I won't even be in the game today at all. So to speak, like I won't be able to make a play on these elk, but I'm going to go glass three miles across this Canyon so that I can just see exactly what elevation these elk are at, where they're eating.

And so there's just, there's just gaining knowledge and we do it on hunts. My Idaho elk hunt that just came out on YouTube last week, like we sacrificed an entire night knowing that we weren't going to kill elk cause we're going to be out in the middle of nowhere, but it allowed us to view so that would be my, that's a big difference between how I hunt now, where I don't need to go gather all this information versus what I did early on is I was just.

Constantly, learning when I was out there and I think it's just important unless you've got a mentor or somebody you can hunt with that has us all dialed in and can tell you why and what and how come and what matters. I think it's important to pick up on all those building blocks. Yeah.

Brian Krebs: It [00:23:00] seems like it's it's hard to get to that level.

When you say have it all dialed in, obviously everyone is learning all the time. But I feel like when you got one week a year, like most out of state, like non Western hunters, right? People from the Midwest or the East, they got the one week. It's so hard to get to that point where it's like we know we have it dialed in.

We know exactly what's going on. It really does take a long time. And I guess the kind of the full circle, what I'm hearing is if you run ridges and bugle, you're just. While you might find some vocal bowls, you're really not building any more foundation or building blocks to you as an elk hunter that, can carry you into success.

It's really start slow and build a solid foundation so then the building can be higher eventually, versus just calling it at a...

Jason Phelps: One trick. Yeah. Like we hunt some big Canyon country. Like I'll use my Idaho spot, for example. There's elk there you're running ridges.

You might not get a response that day. Guess what? If that's the only tool I've got in my toolbox to get the game started, am I going to sit out the next day? What if [00:24:00] they don't answer again the next day? Guess what? I'm a smart enough elk hunter. I know there's elk in here. I'm going to drop in the creek or I'm going to get, the, I'm going to, I'm going to hunt, I'm going to let the air warm up, get a little bit of thermal up, push on the, and I'm going to go mid slope.

I'm going to go through these timber pockets and push you got to be a smart enough elk hunter or, all right, they're not bugling. I'm going to spend my morning hiking across the canyon in the dark so I can glass back to my ridge that I'm biggling off of and see, are there any out there? There's just, you have to be able to adapt versus if your plan is to always start on that ridge you may just be doing yourself a disservice because you can't figure these things out.

Early on, it's fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, I there's been mornings where I'll do the same thing and I do it again the next morning. I'm like, gosh, dang it. You have to stop being lazy. Get off the ridge top. These bulls are already in the bottom.

So guess what? You gotta get up two hours early. You have to walk down the ridge in the dark. You have to walk down 2, 000 feet in the drainage and get below that bull first thing in the morning because that's where you know he's at. So there's just stuff like that where I wanted to try to get this bull to come up to the ridge.[00:25:00]

It was never gonna work. He's continuously in the same spot. So unless you can adapt and know how to deal with that and what your approach is gonna be, then you're just gonna... What, there's the definition of insanity is right. Doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

So if you're a Ridge runner that bugles and you can't get results, like it's insane to do it again and again, like you need to go find those out. And I think

Brian Krebs: it comes to what where I think where people really start asking themselves, what should we do is when there's really nothing going on.

We've had days where it's been nonstop bugles all day long, and it's you don't really ask yourself what should we do, right? Hey, there's a bugle, we're looking at the map, we think he's here, this is the wind, and we're making a, we're making a plan, then we're doing the play and the setup, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

We've shot, we're, 15 percent now, 20 percent somewhere in that range. We have a lot of, we're starting to get a lot of data because we've been doing like somewhere between four and nine hunters every year for the last eight years. So we're starting to rack up a lot of tags, like a lot of man years, if you will.

And so on those [00:26:00] days, it's never Oh man, should we stay here? Should we leave? Should we go somewhere else? Should we set, hold up? Would it, when we're really like scratching our heads, it's day two, day three in a row of not hearing any bugles. And so in a lot of times, obviously we're seeing signs.

So it's like there's elk somewhere there. And last year, for some reason, this would be a great thing to ask you. We were in Montana. I had other buddies in Montana. I had buddies in Wyoming. Half our group was in Colorado. And I heard far more than not that like second, third week of September. A lot of people were like, I don't know what was going on, but it didn't seem like they were very vocal.

Jason Phelps: I'm, I fight the whole the rut moves around idea a whole bunch, or at least used to. I don't know what it is. The last two years there's definitely a pattern. The rut was very late last year. And I don't know exactly why. And I'm one that absolutely hates saying the rut was late, or it was weak, or it was this or that.

But the rut was definitely, Late everywhere I was compared to where it should be and I'm even putting into perspective because we started on September [00:27:00] 1st and finished up on the 28th. So it's and then I know the area I'm in and it just was very lackluster. And then as season got on being out in the woods still in October man, it was just cranking.


Brian Krebs: Do you think? I didn't mean to cut you off. What were you?

Jason Phelps: No, I, yeah, so it was just, it was really late in, in some of these podcasts that I've had on mine. I've wanted to become more informed and understand why. So I, I interviewed a biologist Brock out of BYU and, the nice thing about Brock is he's not tied to government or anything, so he can just give you the right answers.

He's not speaking from a game commission on why and how come, he's just a researcher. The timing of Estrus and like the health that they go into, like how their summer food Comes on and all of this, like the majority of cows will all come into estrus and I'm going to misquote today, but I'm the point I'm trying to make is all of these cows will come in within about a 10 day period, right?

And if they don't come in with if they come in after a hard winter, they don't got like good spring green up, they don't have good summer feed and they [00:28:00] come in and poor health, it can push them later and later because they won't, come into estrus until they're healthy enough. So on a major drought year, a bad winter year, all of that is going to tend to push that rut back more so than forward. And do you think

Brian Krebs: it also... That was exactly what I was going to ask anyway. So it's great that we're on the same wavelength, but do you think it would also elongate the rut if health is like an issue.

So some cows maybe come in on time because they did find a pocket of feed and all of a sudden, like when you draw this rut out, it's that's not when you're really the that's not the magical time in the woods because what's usually makes a magical elk hunt is when every cows and estrus and now every bull is.

Firing off and just going crazy. And so I wonder if that's part of it too. It's not only is it later, it's also longer. And so the intensity is just harder to witness.

Jason Phelps: Yeah, he had very good data on a very dry arid unit and books cliff that would be like marginal habitat, even on a good year for elk.

But on the bad years in the [00:29:00] book cliffs the habitat is horrible. And he said, you can go in there on certain years where it's got, the green up and everything's good. Conditions are good. It can be the absolute most crazy rut fest ever. And you go in there on a year where these cows are stretching out.

They're them coming into estrus over 45 days that herd bowl can now deal with these cows on a one by one basis, right? He's not dealing with multiples and he's like it's almost like a dead zone in there. Everything's quiet. Nothing's going crazy And so yeah, it will stretch the rut out. And younger cows also come in potentially a little bit later because they may not, they may be able to be, bred at some point during that.

So the younger cows will come in later as well, which will stretch it out a little bit. I

Brian Krebs: wonder if that's what was going on last year. And it really makes you a guy think about what's going to come this year, because. I talked to Ryan Carter and he out in Utah. I'm sure you've seen him or met him and he's saying yeah, everyone seems so excited.

There's going to be huge bulls this year, all this moisture. And I'm like, I don't think that's the case. Cause it almost killed them. What doesn't kill you doesn't always make you [00:30:00] stronger either. Like 600 inches of snow isn't great. And they got to get through that winter with no food and like they're.

Yeah, we have a lot of moisture on the ground right now, but it doesn't help if they almost die at the same time. So I'm really curious what's going to happen this

Jason Phelps: year. Yeah, I know our horn growth out West is really good. We had a real wet spring following that winter. So whatever did make it through was able to be in pretty good shape in spring when the horn started to read, regenerate and excuse me, antlers.

Nobody tell me I call them horns. I'm not that guy. I just call them whatever, but the antler like rejuvenation and that we got really good horn growth out here in the West this year, just because we had such a pretty good spring but yeah, there, there are times where a bull will be affected by.

Nutrition that year and there's a good example of a very big bull that was killed in Washington State, my home state last year, that was 458 ish. He went, so two years ago he was 458, the year in between he was 390 and then he went back to 458. So this bull lost almost 70 [00:31:00] inches of horn because of the drought we had two years ago.

So you watch him go from his prime and in his prime dropped 70 inches of horn because of what he had available to him on the ground and then is able to regrow that 70. So it's like you almost wonder if you had a good, what is best year have been the down year, but he just didn't get food. But that's how crazy like horn growth is at times with vegetation and food on the ground.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. And it's usually, it seems like it's a pretty easy indicator of like how healthy the herd is, right? If you, if horn growth is behind you, it would be logical to assume like your cows are a little behind, the calves are behind, everything's behind, you just can't see it as easy as the antlers.

And so that's really interesting but yeah, I'm excited for this year. Hopefully that does lead to a more intense rut all around. It's tough to be an out of state flatlander trying to find elk, because we show up usually to new spots, we have a couple spots we'll go back to, but with, Like you mentioned earlier, alluding to when you do draw Wyoming general tag, it's [00:32:00] three, four years now for a non resident.

So we can only hunt our favorite spot every four years. Montana is getting closer and closer to an every other year or even every two. Yeah. So now we're having to add Colorado. And so we're new spots all the time. You got to spend three, four days, just learning your spot.

Jason Phelps: Yeah. The nice thing is, and you may be finding this out once you've, there's not to keep.

Using the foundation example, but there's this elk hunting foundation that you're probably figuring out, even though you're having to move spots, there is a learning curve, you need to figure out like what those elk in that region want to do, but once you just understand them, it's probably making it easier to show up to a new spot and then maybe a little bit, it's not the same learning curve when you showed up maybe in Wyoming first and then had to go to Idaho and then had to, it's like you start to build on that and you're like, all right, at least if nothing else, I'm able to like, maybe a little bit quicker yeah, reduce this to what I need to do to be successful.

And that's what I found is growing up in Western Washington is a lot different aside from maybe North Idaho, cause it's a jungle here, so I learned to hunt a certain way, but I was able to take what I knew [00:33:00] from here and apply it and then make tweaks to it. But no, I agree if, until you get that.

Foundation built showing up to new spots is sometimes dawning. And until you realize that elk really just do what elk want to do they're, it's like, they're not always going to be in the same spot. Like in one location, elk might be at the top of the mountain with the goats. You might go to the next spot and you're like, why did all these elk want to be down in the creek bottom?

It's but you learn some things and realize like they are where we find them. And then, the rest of it's elk hunting, but yeah, it is tough. Especially, like you're saying the people. That are coming from out east that, that don't have a whole lot of experience.

It could be like, days of scratching your head. When I went to Colorado, all the elk were above the tree line in September. And now I'm in Idaho and all the elk are in the creek bottoms. If you can't figure that out very quickly where, like you guys starting to get more experience, something like me, it's like we just need to like, read the sign, figure out where the heck these things are at and

Brian Krebs: adjust.

Oh and what helps is, we cast a pretty wide net cause we have, I think eight people this year. So like first couple of days, we'll probably break out in teams of two. And be hitting four different spots each day. And then [00:34:00] coming home to camp and being like, yeah, there's, this area was loaded with elk that people, those guys might be like, yeah, we didn't see a single track or any droppings or nothing.

So it's like, all right, now we can start to dial in a little faster, which like if it's just you or you and a buddy, imagine how long it takes to learn a spot because you can only hit one spot at a time. Yep.

Jason Phelps: Nope. You hit on something. We usually always hunt in groups or partners, even if around here, we're going muzzleloader hunting this year.

You always send a buddy somewhere else. And if they're at a different elevation or a different Ridge, like, all right, is there enough room for us both to go there or split apart and and I think like big group success or like high percentages of success, like that's been a huge component of it is that we're always able to feed off information and spread out and really cover the unit and then reduce it down to what we need to do to be successful is another great point.

Cause you guys can cover the tops of the ridges. You guys can cover the bottoms of the valleys and anywhere in between and really just figure out where the elk want to be and adapt to that.

Brian Krebs: When you find a bugle on an average day, not like a magical, the woods is on fire day, but [00:35:00] just an average day and you find a bull and he's bugling and he's in a workable distance, right?

Like less than 800 yards. So it's clearly we're going to go after this bull. Do you know, there's we learned a lot of our elk calling from Paul Medel's elk hunt playbook and like threat levels and start at the bottom and working up the ladder to match the mood.

Is that kind of how you've still play it? Or are you looking cause obviously you're eight up with elk calling, you started an elk calling business. So are you just nope, I want. I want to find like level three bulls that are about ready to rip my head off. And we're going to go in hard and heavy on each one.

And sometimes we'll scare them off, but when we don't it's amazing.

Jason Phelps: It depends. If I've got a good read on it I, and if I want to kill that bull or want to try I'm willing to do whatever it takes. So if I need to, if he's just eating up cow calls, because that's what he wants to hear, maybe he doesn't have cows or none of his cows are in estrus and he may be more willing to leave them, I'll throw cow calls at him. If this bull is super aggressive and just ripping beagles on his own, like as we're approaching, [00:36:00] like to me, he's this guy's already worked up. He maybe has satellite bulls pestering him, like I'm going to go in and be one of those pestering satellite bulls because he's obviously running them around.

So I don't, the one where me and Paul, I think threat levels is always something we talk about. You don't want to necessarily just blow the bull out if something else is working. The one thing where me and Paul defer a little bit more is the language, right? And if they do this, we should do that.

But threat levels is definitely something we were always considering as we move in on these things and as we make

Brian Krebs: our approach. Yeah. Typically we, when we hear a bugle, our first gut instinct is to, it's pretty timely cut the distance, right? That's the name of your show. We try to like, if he's at, if we think he's at 300, which side note, it's.

We find it's really hard to accurately gauge how far away a bugle is when we're new mountain new year new season It's like I think that's 400 yards away and you turn around and he's walking around the corner Yeah, and I think a lot of it was like last year. We had the weirdest mountain where the timber Was so open to not to properly call and not get windowed.

We would [00:37:00] have had to been in some places over a hundred yards apart in the timber. And then the top of the mountain was open, but that was private, which is usually not the case that the top of the ridges are private. And we are, like, in this really weird situation where the elk would go up to find safety instead of down, and that you couldn't go up, you can't go up there, you can't go up over the ridge, so it's there's this endless meadow up there of private land where you can see him, and you're like, oh, he's been on private for two days, hopefully he comes down, and so we usually try to cut the distance and then see if we can get him to sound off again, And I would say we generally default to the bottom of the ladder of a soft cowl call, see if he goes off again, re judge the distance, see if we gotta get closer, but is the, is your general like tactic to just we gotta get as close as we can without busting him before we really start playing?

Jason Phelps: Almost always. There are times and it really there are times where time is what matters, right? If it's taken me an hour to get to where, cause sometimes we'll spot them across the [00:38:00] canyon. I know you talked, your example is 800 yards, but yeah, 800 yards and we can make ground quick. Like we won't.

call until we get right on top of them. But there are times where it's may have taken you a half hour to get to location. You're like should we sound check? And depending on how aggressive the bulls bent, if he's bugling on his own, we'll continue to stay quiet. If we're just walking blind, we'll we'll maybe start with a cow call.

Does he answer? And then we're like, all right, sound check with the bugle, like a real. Laxadazicle Bugle. Just see if he answers it because you don't want to stumble into him. Especially if times elapsed. But yeah on something close, we're getting and a lot of people may say it's not calling elk at that point.

I'm like you can call it whatever you want. I just want the thing to come 20 or 30 yards towards me. Like the less that bull has to move, the more likely is he's at least going to move in your direction for a shot. Like a bull that I've got to try to call from 150 yards away. Is going to be, I would say, and I'm just going to throw some arbitrary numbers out of it.

I would say I call him four times as many bowls when I can get to 70 yards from him than I can when I get to 150. It's just, he's that much more likely to [00:39:00] come in when I can get close. And

Brian Krebs: that's, is that kind of considering like all types of calls, like whether I'm trying to get them with cows or bulls or a challenging satellite?

If I'm at 70. Things are looking four times better than if we're at 150

Jason Phelps: for sure. Yep. And no matter how you're going to call that bull in the chances of him, because we have to remember unless the elk want to come that direction already let's say we're not involved. What would that elk want to do already?

He's got cows. He's got satellite bulls around. They're in this routine. They've got this idea. The lead cow typically is moving the elk. He doesn't want to go the opposite direction or do what's different. Unless he's just happening, it happens that he's going to continue to walk by you to call him away from the direction he wants to go.

Is going to be difficult and that's what you're dealing with. And that's where you have to create that threat when you move in really close or you have to be that cow that's really close. It needs attention and that's why we put so much emphasis on getting very tight as the terrain and as tight as the vegetation will allow you.

To get, and that's why we love to hunt fringes. We love to hunt [00:40:00] like ridges or depressions because it gives us that ability to get very close without being picked off. That's the other thing, like more experience I get is not ever even chancing. A bull seeing us we've just learned after time, no matter if that bull even whips his eyes over and thinks he sees something that bull has just become very tough to call in versus if that bull has no reason to look over in your direction or thinks that he sees something.

Staying completely out of his sight. I think noise is actually. Okay. And then wind, you can never get in, but like wind and site is ideal. Get as close as you can. And then from there that's more important than what call you use next. Any of that other stuff is being

Brian Krebs: tight.

So when, and just for the viewers, so when you say not ever risking him seeing you, so are you talking like you're cross canyon? You think he's in that patch of black timber and you got to walk across like maybe a little opening or like a lightly timbered cross Canyon. You're like, we're not doing that.

[00:41:00] Cause even though you don't think he could see us through that woods, he might be in a pocket where he's like, Oh, there's a guy walking across.

Jason Phelps: Yeah. I asked myself a stupid question, but I, it's are you being lazy? Or is there actually a way around now that you may get in a situation where this is actually the best spot for us to cross.

We have to do it. You'll do it. But like a lot of times I'm like, are you just being lazy? Or can you go a hundred yards to your left, stay in the thick timber and get around without being seen. And one of the things. Like I learned by hunting with Ryan, which is where being physically fit comes in like Ryan's not afraid to make a two mile loop just to guarantee that he's not going to be seen or he doesn't have to cross a ridge top or, so it's like, all right, I need to get, I need to get like my head on straight and maybe be a little bit tougher and do not risk that or there's times where, we can debate this all day or anybody can debate like Can elk smell you at 700 yards away?

Even, so it's am I willing to risk this wind or do I need to back off the mountain, go completely around, so there's times where it's do I want to risk the wind? Like he's 700 yards [00:42:00] away. I think I can cut across there. You probably won't pick me up versus all right. Don't even risk that because that'll screw it all up before it starts.

Now back off the mountain, make your mile loop. And being seen smells like don't risk any of that anymore, especially if it's a bowl that you want to target or want to have a chance at. So it's just like getting your mind you don't take, we don't take shortcuts anymore. When we approach is, yeah.

And then just get close. And sometimes the one thing that really screws with my brain is I know where that Elk's at right now. Like I can pinpoint him on X or whatever mapping software you use. Like I know right where he's at. If I have to take an hour and go around, like Man, there's just that variable of where is he at?

But I think the more we learn I'd rather guarantee that he hasn't seen or smelled me and have to guess where he's at than to know where he's at and have him potentially, see or smell me. So that's like a little bit of a change. We've really been trying to implement in the last few years, unless it's gotta be quick, end of night early, if there's something going on, we may risk it, but we try not to anymore.


Brian Krebs: I got a scenario in my mind that has frustrated our group to no end [00:43:00] because it seems like it's very common. And it's, we'll get up, we get into a spot, there's elk in the area, we, most days, I would say over half the days, we can get a bugle. We can buy a bugle. We might have to pay for it, but we can buy a bugle.

And we'll hear a bugle, we'll get him to go, and it's a lot of times, it's if he's bugling, mediocre bugling activity. See, we'll try to get close. It seems like we don't get any closer. We get close again. He's still 300 yards out. And so it's okay, three or four times now it's clear that he's moving.

And so we're going with them. And then all of a sudden it just goes quiet, right? So maybe over the course of an hour, we've moved somewhere, maybe a half mile or that 800 yard mark, and then we he went quiet. So it's obviously like we weren't off by 800 yards. He was on the move, which is common in the morning.

They're going back to bed, but then they just quiet up. Like in that situation, do you say to yourself, okay, there's a bull here and if we play it we can kill him. Or, obviously you love the interactions. You might say we'll leave [00:44:00] them here and go find someone that does want to talk.

But if you did want to kill that bull, would you stay on them and stay quiet and okay, now we're, we, he went quiet here. We're going to go to. A hundred yards from that spot. We're going to maybe hold up in a good shooting spot, throw out some call calls throughout the day. And then this afternoon he should stand up and pick off again.

Jason Phelps: Yeah, this is tough. This is how I learned the majority of like my early elk hunting is I would play the cat and mouse game all morning long, right? You spend, and it's like. Man, I get closer, he gets closer. I'm going to shut up for 200 yards and try to get closer, but then he like suckers you back into calling with him, right?

Cause he'll be a goal. And then you're like, all right, we're going to call with them again. And then nothing happens. He keeps walking with a shirt. Cause usually they're going from food to bed. So what I've either learned to do is you have to be quiet. And back out and try to get way ahead of them, which sometimes isn't doable, depending on the country you're in, they move fast.

Yep. They move fast. So like sometimes if I knew where they were going to bed, like it's a, I'm familiar with that herd or what, where they're probably going, we would go do that. [00:45:00] We'll let the wind switch. And then make our way in there, but you can, we've sat on a lot of bowls midday, but typically what happens is they get comfortable or they're getting close to their bed and they will just be quiet, right?

They all know where they're at. They all know that's where they need to be. What we will typically do is sit on them until night. Like it's some of the most painstaking days. Cause I'm about as a patient is. But that's those times where it's like, all right, let's just take a nap. We know where they're at.

You're trying to be smart about what the wind's going to do. And usually they always break out of their bed about the time the wind's swirling. So you can't necessarily just set up on them. Perfect. And so you set off to the side and then we usually try to play those Oak at night. And that little window that we got where they may be vulnerable before they start moving back out into the wind.


Brian Krebs: when you say at night, you mean like late after the

Jason Phelps: night. Yeah. Yeah. The, yeah, the evening hunt, right? When the shadows get long and they're going to come back out to feed again, if you haven't put too much pressure on them we've, we haven't had great success following elk that we've been cat and mouse and all morning into their bedrooms because usually[00:46:00] the, what, the way they're walking into the wind and then they turn around and watch their backtrack, just like a big mule deer buck up in the mountains will, they're, yeah.

It's very hard. You almost have to approach from a different angle anyways if that's your play. So what we found is you'd have to back out or play him at night is really the two answers that if you really want success. Now there have been times where we've dogged Elk a little bit from setup to setup and been able to kill him.

But it seems like there's a point in your head where you're like, man, this is just going on forever, right? This isn't just two or three setups and the action isn't increasing. It's just he's always staying the same distance. We just got to pull the cord on that one and try to regroup.

Okay. Yeah.

Brian Krebs: But it sounds yeah, you can't just follow them because they're going somewhere where they know in two hours the thermals are going to switch and then we're going to smell everything behind us. And so on the way in, you really do have to like, be like, you have to parallel the herd in a way to make sure that they can't see you on their back trail.

And then the wind swirls, they're not going to just catch your thermals right away. And so as you're doing [00:47:00] that, it sounds if there's nothing else going on, you maybe hold up on that herd at a safe look safe, but proximate location where when they do fire up in the afternoon again, you could potentially go after them.

But that's the one thing that we've always had as a hard time is what do we do now? Cause they went quiet. We're sure they're bedded somewhere, but maybe do you think that heard, if you're dogging them with bugles, they're just going to keep moving further and further. Cause that bowl is really.

In September, he's trying to bed his herd in a safe spot. Like he doesn't want to bed by other bugles. So if you're dogging them with bugles, do you think he just keeps going? They keep going farther and farther.

Jason Phelps: They will potentially they, Roosevelt's where I grew up. They definitely want to bed in a certain spot.

So they will typically hold up. They won't get pushed out of there, but they won't be called in either. Wrote or Rockies tend to keep going more. Which we put the majority of everybody hunts out there. Yeah. Rockies don't. necessarily care as much like they'll go to their secondary or they're, a different bedding spot if you're putting too much pressure on them.

So a lot of times like it [00:48:00] If they're in a good spot to hunt that's where it's either leave them alone, maybe climb up the canyon wall or get on a different elevation and then approach them from a different angle or from a different direction because if that bull pops off in the middle of the day, like that is a great time to take advantage of them, or if you know pretty accurately where they're bedded, based on bedded beagles or whatnot getting in on that thing can definitely work well there.

Yeah, you have to,

Brian Krebs: I feel like it's, it gets to a point of like opportunity costs and you just got to do You just got to talk with your group and be like, all right, we're dogging this bull. We, here's a big circle in the map. He's, we think he's bedded in this area. Is it? Is this our still our best play for now?

Because we don't hear any other bugles. We can leave him there. Or we hear something else so we'll remember he's there but then we'll go try to play this midday play on another bowl but we can come back to this bowl. Do you split like, that's always what do we do now? Do we maybe do a little scouting if you will midday and see if we can find some sign on a different part of the mountain and then come back here for the evening?

It's always those [00:49:00] days where it's not just fast enough where you're like, what should we do now?

Jason Phelps: Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of that depends are you somewhere where you can get back to your truck in a half hour and go to a different spot? Or if you're six miles in and it's like the Ridge drops off and you really don't want to go down, any further than you're just going to hang out.

And so it really, all those factors just play in whether you're going to hang out or whether you should go scout, we're always, even if we've got elk located. If I can take advantage of that time in the middle of the day and maybe go check out some new areas or check for sign and be back there at night.

Because I know those elk aren't going to move unless somebody bumps them. That's usually what we'll do. Let's go pick up as much information as we can. So we have backup plans and then we'll come back and see what happens at night. Yeah. And

Brian Krebs: It's funny because elk hunting, like when you think of it, you think of it's man, it's a lot of work.

It's hard. You get exhausted, but typically that's mostly when you're not hunting, when you're actually like on target, like on the mountain, we're at the elevation, then you're mostly going like cross elevation, maybe up a little bit, down a little bit. And then if you get into a play, [00:50:00] obviously anything can change.

Typically when you're on the mountain, like then it's, it's pretty easy walking for the most part to go check some stuff out. You got no hurt. Like you don't have to be hurry and run around every place and get sweaty and exhausted. So that part's usually the easy part to just walk around and, do a couple mile loop, check out some signs, check out some drainages.

And it's really not that hard. It's getting up to the mountain where you're like,

Jason Phelps: Yeah and I'm gonna, one of our one of the things we people, some people don't like me to talk about because it's a little bit of one of those, underground secrets, but we don't typically have issues knowing where Elk are at because we do a lot of night locating.

I, people don't like me to talk about this and it's one of those things we don't talk about a lot, but if I need to sacrifice a night which kind of gets back to midday naps, I'd rather scout after dark and two hours before daylight, then walk all over in the middle of the day.

And if I'm tired, I'll take a nap, but being able to night locate and scout for elk after [00:51:00] dark is so much more productive than midday scouting. Yeah, it guarantees that I'm on elk or when plan A or B screws up, I'm going to C or D that I found the night before that morning.

Brian Krebs: It's funny because we've known about that from the very first year we've done archery elk back in 2015 I think and we've never done it.

We every year we say man if we get into it and we're losing ideas like we need to night bugle and then we never do it. And then it's no, we need the night bugle, never do it. And I think it's, it's tough. When you get back to camp, you're, you're three, four days in, you're tired, you just want to eat and go to sleep.

And you got to like you mentioned, like it's okay to miss a morning hunt if you're trading that for gaining valuable intelligence in the evening or the night before, like at, middle of the night. Because typically what we have found is afternoons are the magical time anyway.

Yeah, we hear bugles in the morning, but we've never killed the bull in the morning. We've always killed our [00:52:00] bulls after lunch. Every time. I know a lot of people are going to write in and say, I kill every bull I've ever shot. Before breakfast, but typically we aren't those people and we do wake up early and we hear bulls and we dog herds.

And that probably gets us into the right spot for the afternoon, but typically it's the afternoon or the, or when it's magical all day long is when we're killing elk.

Jason Phelps: Yep. No, we're the same boat. Like we've killed a few early in the morning. Things work out, but the majority of the time we're same as you killing bulls from noon on, or, I think it's morning on it seems like

Brian Krebs: the morning game is an ambush game or yeah calling can help But you need to know because they're typically moving before shooting light Anyway, they're already headed back to their bed when the sun comes up and so you need to basically cut them off No, they're gonna be coming by you at 70 yards or closer and then you can start a call and but it's that, I would call that an ambush when you're trying to catch them from behind, man, you have to be in good shape because their walk is like a good jog for us and it's uphill and not many of us can jog straight uphill for a half mile.[00:53:00]

I can't, I don't know about you, Jason.

Jason Phelps: Yeah, I can't jog 20 feet.

Brian Krebs: I tell everyone if I'm running, there's either donuts or grizzly bears and you best not wait to find out which.

Jason Phelps: Yep. Yep. I try not to run.

Brian Krebs: But yeah that's our plan. We're really excited about it. I've been busting out my calls.

I do a lot of calling in the truck. I usually don't bust out the bugle tube until we're there because I don't want to blow up my eardrums, but. But yeah we're getting to that point, busting out the calls and you just released the new unleashed V2 bugle tube from Phelps game calls. Yeah.

Jason Phelps: Yeah.

So it. It kind of piggybacks on our original Unleashed. The original Unleashed is a great tube, but some of the feedback we got was, man it's a little bigger than I'd like to carry around in the woods and maybe a little heavier. And so we went back to the drawing board, but I was unwilling to give up volume, sound quality and some of those things and back pressure that you get from a tube.

And so we went back to the drawing board, put a lot of [00:54:00] a little bit of science into it and figured out, like, how do you create the same back pressure, similar volume, same resonant frequencies all of that. And we ended up with a tube that's about half the size and about 33 percent lighter, which yeah, it doesn't seem like a lot.

I've never been a guy to complain. I've got my bugle tube in one hand, I got my bow in the other. It... really doesn't matter, but it will be nice to have a less cumbersome bugle tube. We were able to wrap like a neoprene sleeve around this one without killing the sound, so it's way quieter if it happens to bump a tree or some brush.

It's got an integrated shock cord lanyard. So it's a really nice system. And if you can't run a diaphragm, it also accepts our easy bugler mouthpiece. If you can't be able to diaphragm, you can snap that right on and be able to be in the game without being able to run a diaphragm, at least be able to beagle when you need to, or locate bowls when you need to.

Brian Krebs: That's interesting. You said that because I'm the opposite. I can run a diaphragm, but. Most of those external bugle systems, I know there's a lot of them out there, and I've never, to be fair, I've never tried the Easy Bugler, and the name of it maybe makes it [00:55:00] sound like it would be the one I could finally do, but I could not get any of those integrated bugle tomb reeds to work at all, and I'm like, man, I'm not gonna be a very good elk hunter, and then we switched to the diaphragms, and I'm like, okay, finally, I can figure this out.


Jason Phelps: I get this figured out. No, this one's pretty easy. It just, it basically uses our amp diaphragm frame without a piece of tape on it and it sits in a little cassette and all you have to do is put your bottom lip over the hole and it, we've been able, I would say 99 percent of the people we can get like to be able to use these things, whether it's young kids or, Old ladies that just want to be able to elk off their back porch.

Like we've been able to get them dialed in. It's a real easy system to use, but it's out there. We just, me and Dirk over time, we're listening to our customers and just, we had so many people walk by I can't use a diaphragm. Do you have something for me yet? And so we wanted this to be as easy as possible.

Dirk had some requirements. I had to be able to make it lip ball and be good to chuckle, like realistic chuckle. So we worked on how that was all going to come together. And I think we it's a real good product. And I. [00:56:00] I, I was of the opinion like everybody should be able to figure out how to use a diaphragm and if they just practice but it's not reality like people just, gag reflexes just can't figure it out.

And so this is nice. And the best thing is a lot of guys, given us feedback over the last couple of years when we released it is like it changed their entire archery elk hunting experience because they weren't afraid to be where they were able to be able finally in certain scenarios and yeah, that, that's that's awesome to hear that you created a product that allowed them to be part of the game.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, and one thing I'm excited about, I think I'm going to order one of your external asterisk calls because my, I don't know if I'm just not using the right diaphragms, but it seems like when I hear a real elk call, a cow elk, I hear it. And then I try to do it. My diaphragms are too high pitched.

They don't, it's you probably know this way more than I do, you know what I'm supposed to, trying to say, but the cows have this it seems a little bit deeper, it seems a little bit harsher in a way. Then my diaphragm comes out like too high and [00:57:00] soft, like it's 100 percent calf and no matter what I try to do to get that register down lower to really come out with that more nasally, it just doesn't do it and then I met a guy on a mountain, he's here, try this and I tried his, it was just a random old external one and I'm like, oh yeah, this is perfect.

I didn't think external ones could do as much, as the diaphragm, I was just, unaware. And I think I need to switch and get one of those external diaphragm calls you got. Sorry about that, folks. We had a brief, outage, network outage, which happens when you have a Western podcast and talk to people out in the West.

But yeah, we're just talking about the external cow calls, trying to get that registered down. And I found when I switched to that external piece, is there something about a diaphragm versus external that just allows you to get that deeper nasally sound that is, to me, sounds more like an authentic cow?

Jason Phelps: Yeah, it's when we design externals I always call it and I don't know if my terminology is right. I, fortunately, being a game call manufacturer, I can make up the terminology, right? But it's almost that, [00:58:00] that sound you were saying at the end of a cow call, it's that real sharp, yeah.

And it's almost, I call it like a ripping, like you rip off the end of the cow call. It's more of a tearing. It's not a real sweet sound. We're like a Mylar reed, which we use on those externals vibrate. And as you change the vibration, the length of it that's usually on those external calicles, you pinch down tight and you let up.

As you're basically effectively lengthening that mylar read is where you get that kind of changeover into that realistic. Calco where when you're vibrating a little piece of stretch latex in your mouth it's sometimes tougher to go from the high pitch that you need to the, and so it takes a little more skill to be able to like, yeah, with your diaphragm, you almost have to speak it into the color.

I imagine speaking it into the call to really get that, that authentic Calco. So it's very well known that I'd say it's very well not insulting you that you didn't know that, but it's, amongst us call makers, it's well known that we can accomplish some things with Mylar Reads that we can't do with diaphragms, in

Brian Krebs: the mouth.

Oh, interesting. I'm gonna have to pick one up. One thing that I never know when I'm looking at so you [00:59:00] got, I would say we're at... You got 12 different external options and it's which one is the one? I that fits me best. And I, that's where I always struggle with what am I supposed to be looking for?

Because they all look great. Every one of them you got here looks like super good. So is there like a, for a listener that's maybe Oh, we're going out cutting this year. I'm going to go pick up a, a Phelps game call, external cow, call Mylar call what should they be looking for?

Jason Phelps: So like fit on the external doesn't matter. Quite as much as more what sound you're after. So when we talk about our external calls, I would say we have three, we've got an easy estrous that comes in different barrel shapes. I would say the barrel matters a lot less than as far as sound quality, then it's more of what you want your call to look like.

And maybe some durability, like out of the acrylics, we've got the mini X, which is a lot smaller call, which is more geared towards like high pitch. Cal calls, maybe a little more Medium age, but it's a lot smaller call. The Easy Estrus is a lot louder, and it's a deeper cow call. Maybe if somebody wants a real quiet cow call, it's not going to work.

And then we've got [01:00:00] our new Easy Sucker, which is an inhale call but it uses a diaphragm. So it may lack some of that nasal, nasally sound that you're talking about. But it's very easy to use. And the nice thing about the Easy Sucker versus other external cow calls is if you are bowhunting by yourself or calling for yourself, those have to be used in conjunction with your hand, right?

You can't, you could hold it in your mouth without your hand, but it's meant to be held, right? And brought down, which creates a lot of movement, which when you're calling a bull and you don't want to do. Where the Easy Sucker allows you, if you can't run a diaphragm, to still make a sound while your hand is on your bow and your hand's on your leash, right?

So that's the three different categories we have and the EZ Sucker does do a really good job as far as like a latex call is concerned on getting that nasally authentic cow sound.

Brian Krebs: Oh, yeah. So do you ever run like a, like an EZ Estrus? With a reed in your mouth and then switch it up so you can get that effect of having multiple elk in a sequence and [01:01:00] can change your pitches and sounds pretty fast, or is it pretty hard to run an easy estrus when you have a diaphragm on the side of your mouth?

Jason Phelps: No, we, I've been doing it so long, like I, it's easy for me to just put the call on it. edge in the side of my cheek, and then I'm fully capable to run back and forth. There's, we don't run into that scenario a lot where we want to be multiple cows. I would say just because of my strategy, but there are times where I want to be like a cow communicating with a calf.

And on the externals, one of the downsides is you sound like the same elk over and over. I can bounce back and forth, like a calf can be on my diaphragm, and I can run a mature cow on the egestrus and sound, like two different elks there.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah, that's the, that's what I'm looking for, so I'm gonna have to get one of those.

And then on the lip ball, you mentioned like the you said Dirk gave you a requirement that you had to be able to lip ball through your new tube. How do you create your lip ball by like the trumpet effect with your lips, like vibrating your lips, or do you do it by blowing a lot of air and bubbles across the latex?

Jason Phelps: Yeah, we're, it's all lip vibration [01:02:00] in the tube. It was one of the harder calls to learn when I was, learning how to do all that way back when. But yeah, it's a lot of practice like figuring out how to keep your lips tense and tight and then being able to keep them fluttering through the call.

It is how we do it. It's just a sputter. And it's getting not, they're not too much like the rate of vibration. Some people see dirt, put his lips on like the outside. Then he's using like the fatty part of his lip to slow down the. The vibration of a lip ball where my lip balls tend to be like straight forward, so it's a tighter, like crisper lip ball and we've got the ability to switch it up, but there's lots of ways to accomplish that, but I would say the majority of people do it by just vibrating their lips as they're calling through

Brian Krebs: it.

Yeah, that's my problem. I haven't figured out. I haven't learned how to do the lip thing. So I just blow a lot of air and it throws some bubbles across the latex that gets it to, it doesn't sound great. I'm sure you've heard someone do that before, but that's what I got

Jason Phelps: to deal with. We do it on like bowels or like little moans, extra air and kind of [01:03:00] some disrupted air across the reed.

They give you that, that broken up, so it's not perfectly smooth and crisp. We do that as well at times, which is, it's authentic. But yeah, lip ball is not the most important thing. We just the system we run a lot of mimicry. So if a bull starts lip all at me, we typically lip all back at them and just match their aggression and what they're

Brian Krebs: throwing at us.

Oh, yeah, that's a good point. That's probably a good just all around, tip or something is just like match. I call it like matching mood or I you know, match the elk where they are like. If it's a quiet day and they're not talkative, like you probably shouldn't be that talkative either.

Just get close to them and wait till they stand up in the evening versus if they're lip balling at you, you got to ramp it up and you got to, be prepared to get run over.

Jason Phelps: Yeah, no we do that a lot. We match the mood until we can feel like it turning. If we do finally get maybe on a, on a.

On a slow day, a bowl to answer, and we feel like we're finally building some momentum, we'll keep ramping it up. But yeah, you don't want to be the only quote unquote bowl on the mountain just ripping his head off when [01:04:00] the real elf knows that there's no cows in Estrus, and it's really not that time to

Brian Krebs: be cranking.

Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point. That is a good point. And wow, I... Happens every time, but talking elk calling and I look down and it's already been a little over an hour, Jason, and I appreciate your time and want to respect you're a busy guy and you're probably going to be getting busier and busier by the day as we approach season.

So I want to let you get on with the rest of your day, but before you do give folks a chance to follow, give them the website where they can find some of these calls and the new beagle tube that you released and where they can follow along with your journeys this fall. Yeah,

Jason Phelps: I really appreciate having me on to our websites www.

PhelpsGameCalls. com. Instagrams at Phelps Game Calls, my personal Instagrams at Jason Flynn Phelps. We're available on Facebook, both the business page and and personal page. And we're just, we're super easy to get a hold of. So if you ever want to get a hold of us and the nice thing is it's still me and Dirk that answer the majority of our Instagram messages and whatnot.

Yeah, we [01:05:00] like to be able to take care of people personally and, yeah, easy to get a hold of. Do our best to try to answer everybody in a timely manner, but, yep, you can also email us to our email or our emails are all on the website there at probesteampills. com.

Brian Krebs: Awesome, we will put the links to the Instagram and the website in the show notes for anyone looking to grab some elk calls before season and wish you the best of luck this fall on all of your different hunts, Jason.

Yeah, good

Jason Phelps: luck. I'm excited to hear how you and your team do out west and you'll have to report back.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, we'll send you some pictures with the, a nice bull, a nice 250 bull on the ground with your your easy asterisk cow call. There you go, I like it. Haha, thanks. Thanks for being here, Jason, and thank you for listening, folks.[01:06:00]