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T.R. Michels’

Trinity Mountain Outdoor News TM
Information For The Serious Hunter TM
Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2003

I've often been asked why I spend so much time researching game animals. The simple answer would be because my research on the seasonal behavior, daily behavior, calls, scents and breeding activity of game animals is the basis for many of my books, articles and seminars. Without the research, and my experience as a hunting guide, I wouldn't have much of the information I provide in my various books, articles and seminars. But, the truth of the matter is I do it because I want to find out all I can about the animals. I went to St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, to become a wildlife researcher; it's what I've always wanted to do. Although I didn't graduate from college, my research papers have been read by many top game biologists. 

Noted deer biologist Dr. Larry Marchinton recently told me he gave seven years of scrape studies to one of his university students, and she has gone on to do her own scrape studies. She is now doing elk research, and I hope to be exchanging research findings with her. Dr. Valerius Geist (who is one of the top deer and elk researchers in the world) told me he would like to have my research papers published in the Canadian Field Naturalist or the American Midland Naturalist; two of the top biological reviews in North America. I feel honored that these two men respect my work. 

The downside to not having graduated from colleges is that it is hard to get funding for my studies. It costs me about $5000 per year to do my research. Thankfully the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association funded part of my 2002 elk research project. If you know of an organization that would be willing to fund all or part of my elk research for 2003, please provide me with information on how to contact them. Meanwhile I'll keep doing what I love to do; researching game animals, and writing and telling you about it. 

Elk Research

In August of 2002 I continued the elk research project I began in 2001, watching and listening to 70+ antlered, and 55+ de-antlered 3.5 year-old and older bulls, approximately 60 one and two year old bull, and approximately 210 cows and their calves; for 2-4 hours in the morning and 2-4 hours in the evening. The herd had grown from 600+ to 700+ elk. One thing I wanted to find out was whether or not the moon was correlated with bugling, breeding or daily behavior. In order to do that I have to be there at various times of the day, week and month. I've even been there during the night, when the moon was directly overhead. And, just like whitetails, most of the time the elk were bedded while the moon was directly overhead; not moving around like some of the of the lunar game tables predict. I've found that the overhead/underfoot position of the moon has very little to do with any animal I have researched so far. If you want to see more game, hunt in the morning and evening, when the animals are most active.

It doesn't appear that bugling or breeding is correlated with the full moon phase. In 2002 the second and third bugling peaks occurred at almost the same time as they did in 2001. However, the peaks weren't correlated with the moon. It did appear that bugling was affected by temperature/windchill. The warmer it got, the more frequently the bulls bugled, until temperature/windchill got to 70-80 degrees; then they bugled less frequently. 

My studies shows that bull elk of different ages begin bugling at different times of the year, and that some bulls bugle more frequently than others. Bugling activity also depends on whether or not the bull is with cows without other bulls nearby; with cows with other bulls nearby; or without any cows or bulls nearby. I found that spike bulls bugle much less than older bulls; if they do bugle they don't usually use the "Full Bugle Sequence" (the roar, bugle and chuckle all strung together), and they usually begin bugling later in the year than older bulls. Two year old bulls often bugle, but they don’t' roar or chuckle as often as older bulls do. They also begin bugling later in the year than older bulls. 

During my studies I heard two calls I don't remember reading about in any scientific report; both of these call appear to be threats between bulls. After watching several cows get bred over the past two years I have never heard a cow-estrus call. There doesn't seem to be one! I should find out how many calls elk actually use, because I've gotten together with Stoney Wolf Productions/Game Call Technology to record the elk calls, analyze them by sonograph, and then have them available for you to see and practice on the Ultimate Game Calling interactive CD-ROM. I should be able to offer you this CD next year. 

I can tell you that it is pretty difficult to make a mistake when you are using a mouth diaphragm to call elk, because no two bulls, cows or calves sound alike, and they don't all sound like you'd think they should. I should learn a lot more after we get the calls analyzed in early 2003, and it should help when you and I are hunting elk. There's more information on elk behavior, vocalizations, calling, and hunting techniques in the 2002 Revised Edition of the Elk Addict’s Manual,which is available through Trinity Mountain Outdoor Products catalog. I guarantee this book will make you a better elk hunter. 

Game Calling

Through my studies I have learned that not all animals of a given species sound alike. Not all cow, calves or bull elk sound alike. Not all whitetails sound alike; different bucks use different Tending grunts; different does use different Social Contact grunts. A goose doesn't sound like a gander, and goslings don't sound like adult geese. Flying geese have a slow measured honk; landing / backpedaling geese use a fast call. When a goose is chasing another goose its calling is louder than when it stands still. 

There is no "feeding call" that you can use to ask other ducks to come down and feed with you. The feeding "chuckle" of the mallard is actually a hen telling the drakes to leave her alone. The "hail call" is a "come on over hear" call, but not like most hunters think. When it is used in the fall, the hail call is a hen mallard announcing to any drake within hearing distance that she is ready to get engaged, but he is not going to reap the benefits until next spring. The keys to calling are using the right call at the right time; and using the right pitch, duration and loudness of the call. 

As a result of my studies I've gotten together with Haydel's Game Calls to develop several calls that sound more like the real animals, and less like manufactured calls. I've worked with them to put together the right calls for the different ages and sexes of elk. I've even gone so far as to hand tune some of their goose calls so they sound more like the Giant Canada's many of us in the northern states hunt. 

How The Moon Affects Game Animals

Through my last nine years of research I haqe found no correlation between the daily activity of deer, elk and turkeys with the overhead/underfoot position of the moon. I've come to the conclusion that daily game activity tables are unreliable. It has also been found (by a top whitetail biologist) that there is no correlation between peak breeding of white-tailed deer and any moon phase. However, I did find (and so have other researchers) a correlation between daytime sightings of deer and turkeys (and scraping and gobbling activity) with the amount of light, monthly gravitational pull, and monthly biomagnetics associated with the moon. My Moon Indicator is quite accurate at predicting peak monthly deer sightings and scrape activity, and peak monthly gobbling activity. 

T.R. Michels Guide Service 

I'll be doing some turkey hunting in Missouri (eastern turkeys), Nebraska (Merriam's turkeys) and Kansas (Rio Grand turkeys) this spring. I should have openings for 8 people per week, at between $450 and $600 per week, plus room and board. If you are interested in hunting with us contact me ASAP; I don't expect these hunts to last. If you time it right you can even hitch a ride with us. I'm also planning a whitetail hunt in Kansas, and a Colorado elk hunt. We also have 5 day pre-baited unguided black bear hunts in central Minnesota, $500 per person. Hotel and restaurant nearby. 

I will be guiding for Canada geese near Rochester, MN, early October through mid December; $75 per person for a half day hunt. If enough guys are interested we may also offer a hunt in North Dakota for a fall snow goose hunt. The migration usually occurs during the third week of October. Contact me for prices and dates on all of these hunts. 

Whitetail/Turkey University and Guide School

While giving seminars at the hunting shows over the last several years I have been asked about guide schools. Our new location offers the perfect place to run a hunting and guide school. We have plenty of land, several types of habitat, plus deer, elk, turkey, pheasants and geese that are easy to watch, and to learn from. The course will include instruction on goose, duck, elk, mule deer and bear hunting. It will also provide information on how to become a guide, outfitter or hunting consultant; and assist in job placement after graduation. You will have the opportunity to participate in the ongoing deer, turkey and elk research in the spring and fall, which will help you understand how the weather and the moon influence seasonal behavior and breeding activity of the animals. You will also have the opportunity to walk rub routes, scrape lines, locate buck bedding areas; watch and listen to turkeys, elk and geese; and pattern and photograph deer, turkeys and elk. Sessions will include instruction on how and when to use scents, calls, rattling and decoys, and the right time to use them based on the progression of the rut/hunting season. You will learn how to choose hunting sites based on seasonal and daily use by the animals; how to locate feeding and breeding/strutting areas and preferred bedding/roost sites; and the best times, locations and techniques to hunt deer, turkey and elk during the different phases of the breeding/hunting season. Turkey sessions begin in early April, elk hunting sessions begin in early September. 

other articles by T.R. Michels (link to

2003 Seminar / Show Dates

I'll be speaking at the following shows/events in 2003: Jan 18-19, Chicago Boat, Sport & Travel Show, Chicago, IL; 

Jan 31-Feb 2, Eau Claire Deer Classic, Eau Claire, WI; Feb 8, Blue Earth Chapter MN Deer Hunters Association, Granada, MN; Feb 14-16, IN Deer and Turkey Expo, Indianapolis, IN; Feb 21-23, Mid America Deer Classic, St. Louis, MO; Mar 1-2, MO Deer Classic, Columbia, MO; Mar 14-16, MN Deer Classic, St. Paul, MN; Mar 21, Milwaukee Sentinel Sportshow, Milwaukee, WI; July 31-Aug 3, Buckarama, Atlanta, GA; Aug 15-17, Buckarama, Perry, GA.

New Products

I'll be selling Haydel's Game Calls, the Ultimate Game Calling System CD-ROM's, Flag Man goose flags and hopefully some other new items this year. Look for these products in upcoming issues of the Trinity Mountain Outdoor Products catalog, on the website, or at the shows. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and see us at the retail store; we're not far from Cabela's in Owatonna, MN. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. 

Good Hunting. ...... T.R. 

Trinity Mountain Outdoors Copyright T.R. Michels 2002 
PO Box 283 Phone: 507-824-3296

317 High Avenue (Retail Store) E-mail:  
Wanamingo, MN 55983 Website: 

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T.R. Michels, Trinity Mountain Outdoors, PO Box 284, Wanamingo, MN 55983

Phone: 507-824-3296, E-mail: , Website: