Solo archery hunting -- tips for calling/set up?

by Idaho Steve
(Hailey, ID )

I hunt by myself a lot, as I'm lucky to have a job that provides me with a flexible schedule in Sept. Most of my friends can not take time off in September, so I'm usually alone, which I do enjoy. But I do feel limited as my solo calls usually allow bulls to pin me down petty easily.

Dave, I know you hunt alone a lot. I'd love to hear your thoughts on strategic set-ups when solo hunting and calling. Also anyone else...

I know that usually you're going to want to move/set up toward the direction you think the bull's approaching from after you make your last call or set of calls. But are there any other little tips I could utilize? I had a lot of action last year, which was my first archery season. I got in on bulls most days, but I was usually busted by cows, or by the bull himself before I could get a shot off.

I hunt with a recurve, so my range is limited to about 20 yards accurately right now.

Thanks in advance. Only six more months to go!

Comments for Solo archery hunting -- tips for calling/set up?

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Sep 11, 2017
New Page on Elk Calling Set Ups
by: Dave, Elk Tips Outdoor Gear

Sometimes as a solo hunter you still need to stay put. You can't move every time you call. But, don't forget to set up for your "weak side". Read about it here.

Aug 23, 2017
2017 archery elk pioneer unit
by: Anonymous

hey steve.are you hunting this season? I'm looking to team up with someone for some elk hunting in pioneer area. let me know

Aug 20, 2014
Best trick ever
by: My ghost

Use real elk to do your calling, you need to put yourself between the real thing. A vocal bull will usually call in another bull .the one coming in will broadcast his path intention. The herd bull usually stays put . I have already said too much..

Mar 15, 2012
Elk Decoy
by: Dave, Elk Hunting Tips (MT)

Using a decoy takes some getting used to. In the heat of the moment it's hard to take time to get it out of your pack, or whatever, and get it all set up in the right spot. I learned to carry mine on the outside of my pack. I drop my pack near the decoy, because I am coming back to it sooner or later. Many times you end up putting it somewhere useless! I do agree and recommend trying it, though. Especially if you hunt alone, as I do.

Mar 15, 2012
Calling Alone
by: Anonymous

So, what does the fiancé look like? Just kidding!!!

I too have tried deflecting the call and it works, at longer ranges...inside 50 yards it is just tough to do. What has worked at closer ranges (when you have a bull located within 150-250 yds) is setting a decoy behind you about 15 yds. (not too far because they will move in between you and the decoy) in thick (really thick) cover. Have shooting lanes to each side as the bull will try to get downwind...keep your eyes moving, not your head!

It does work, not always but is pretty darn exciting whatever the outcome!

Feb 29, 2012
Looking for Solo Hunter to Help With 50th Birthday Present for Friend
by: bill thompson

I live in Florida and my best friend is an avid hunter. I am not. I fish like a fool and was wondering if any of the guys that hunt solo could help me out to surprise my friend with a couple of days hunting for elk with bow.

He has just about every type of gear known to man his dream hunt is a bow hunt for elk. I can't afford to pay the amount of money for a guided hunt for it. Is just me and his fiance that are paying for him to go.

I'm only looking for a week. One day travel each way and 3 days of hunting. I've known him for 15 years since I moved to south Florida from Orlando and he was one of the first people I met.

I know him very well. He is a great guy and gets along with everybody, so if you can help email me at even if it is with comments or suggestions. Thanks in advance.

A good friend.

Feb 18, 2012
Scent Controlled Hunting and ASAT Camo
by: Dave, Elk Hunting Tips (MT)

I just made ASAT available on this site recently and took the prices down as low as it can be found on the Internet. They might have to go up a little eventually. Keep in mind that the ASAT cotton field shirt and BDU pants are good, but they are fairly stiff when they're new. That is what I have been using though.

The quieter, softer series are more expensive: First Lite and Elite Series.

I don't have an ASAT head net, but it's on my list. I do have an ASAT beanie.

You can read about my thoughts on scent control hunting here. I buy those sprays and soaps this time of year at Wal-Mart, when they are marked way down. At least they are up here in MT anyway. Whatever is leftover they put on clearance. I buy all I will need, which is a substantial amount, for the next season during the month of January. I noticed they still have some left today. I wash clothing in Scent-Away soap and line dry them with the spray on them.

It won't be long! My wife was emailing me yesterday at work telling me she was watching elk up on the hill out our front window. I'm really reminded that we're "living the dream" when I can sit on my toilet and watch elk on the hill out the bathroom window! Sorry! Too much info?

I'm thinking about turkey hunting this spring again to get me through!

Feb 18, 2012
Thanks Dave!
by: Idaho Steve

ASAT is definitely gonna find its way into the budget this year. Do you wear an ASAT head net? And do you focus much on scent control (sprays, detergents, etc.) or do you mainly just work with the wind?

Thanks again, Dave. Hope all is well with you and your family! I can't believe it's February and I'm more focused on this stuff than skiing. One passion replaced by another, I guess...

Feb 17, 2012
Solo Elk Calling During Archery
by: Dave, Elk Hunting Tips (MT)

I know the feeling, Steve! The good news is that if you're getting busted by bulls, it's because your calling is working.

I, too, got busted so many frustrating times last year by bulls and cows. It helped in many close up encounters to have ASAT camo on, but I got busted moving a few times. I got busted once by a bull that I didn't see come in. He was close and I did an estrus call when he was right there. I was using a hand held reed call, so he, no doubt, saw my hand move up to my mouth. He bolted immediately. If I had been more observant, I would have seen him.

One thing I have to learn over and over again is that the bulls sometimes pick the very spot that I do not expect them to come from. If there is some dense stuff you can't see through well, check it just as carefully for movement as you do the open areas you hope your bull will step into. Those bulls often come in very quietly.

I set up once last year facing the bulls I was targeting with my calls. It was a great set up with the bulls all upwind from me. Every direction was clear for shooting except for directly behind me, which was downwind.

Sure enough, a different bull bugled from behind me and was coming in fast. I couldn't move. I could see him through the brush behind me. I knew he would wind me eventually. He did.

If I had been over a few feet to my left IN the gamer trail, instead of next to it, I would have had a shot before he stepped into my scent flow. I had not set up to shoot that direction because of the clear direction of the wind toward that spot.

So, set up with shooting lanes at least one side or the other of your scent stream, too. You often have a few seconds to make a shot before they nose you. Don't assume there will be no shot directly down your scent stream. That is often where they will try to approach. You might have a few seconds to shoot before they catch your drift.

Also, deflecting your calls does work! Deflect it with your hand to one side or the other, so the elk won't come walking straight up to you. Sometimes I call with my mouth right up behind and against a tree, so it can't be located as well.

The bull will be looking the direction you deflect toward, especially if you deflect it into the direction of some other noisy elk. Your "cow" will more realistically sound like she has wandered away from the noisy herd. Another bull will want to quickly seize that opportunity and will possibly make his last big mistake in front of you.

Any other suggestions? We need all the ideas we can get!

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