Self-Taught Elk Hunter

Self-Taught Elk Hunter

Learning mostly by trial, Kristy Titus offers tips to get started

As a child of the Pacific Northwest and growing up hunting the great public lands of Oregon, it’s safe to say Kristy Titus’ truest outdoor passion is elk hunting.

And while she is offering her top 10 elk calling tips here, she is quick to point out there is no quick method of education for calling in that giant bull elk.

“It’s almost all trial-and-error, self-taught stuff,” she said recently while traveling from an elk hunt in Colorado. “I’ve messed up a lot, but I found out early on that is the best way to learn. It’s a thing where you try something and it doesn’t work … ‘Oops. I won’t do that again.’”

However, she said, no two hunts – like no two elk – are ever exactly alike.

“Every elk is going to react differently,” Titus said. “Whether it’s because of the moon phase or the weather conditions or the herd’s mood … it’s always going to be different.

“I try to tell people: There’s no right way, there’s no wrong way. You have to plan your hunt strategy off the information you have at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20. I believe that cow-calf communication is the best way to make the most of your time investment. And there are many hunts where I never bugle once. If that bull doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he’s picking up his cows and leaving.

“Gaining experience is best way to try to predict how they will react.”

The key to any successful elk hunt is not calling, Titus said, but the wind and using it to your advantage.

“Wind is always the most critical factor. Always,” she said. “If they smell you, boom, it’s over. If a few of the elk see you but don’t smell you, you still have a good chance at a successful stalk or call setup. You have to work with the wind.”

Titus has appeared on several outdoor television shows, and in 2010 hosted Lethal with Kristy Titus on the Pursuit Channel. Her website is

With some last-minute urging last year from her friend Rocky Jacobsen of Bugling Bull Game Calls – now Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls -- Titus entered the World Elk Calling Championships in Las Vegas with a borrowed bugle and a diaphragm new from the package. Even though she was a little rusty, as she had not picked up a bugle in several months, she took second place in the women’s open division.

Titus said she uses Jacobsen’s calls exclusively.

“I have no [contract] with them, but I endorse Rocky’s calls because I believe in them,” she said. “I’ve found that they work for me, and that’s what everyone has to do. There are a ton of different calls – different sizes, different sounds – but you have to find what’s best for you.”

Titus said she recently returned to the mountains after the conclusion of Oregon’s archery elk season, simply to continue the ongoing process of honing her elk calling skills.

“I just went back up to the mountains to play with them a little bit,” she said. “Just calling and listening. Learning how they react to different calls and different sounds. It’s all about gaining experience, because you can never have enough.”

Click image for photos and tips from Kristy Titus 

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