Michael Batease and his mission to help you find success in the elk woods
With an elk calling seminar fast approaching in North Idaho, I thought it would be a great time for everyone to get to know Michael Batease. Even if you’re too far away or can’t attend our event, Michael provides some elk hunting insight here that you would be wise to learn from.
Originally from Hermiston, OR, Michael has thirty plus years of elk hunting success. He has lived in Boise, ID since the mid-90’s with his wife and kids. Michael owns and operates The Elk Calling Academy that hosts anything from private calling lessons to live Wapiti Wednesday sessions. Many people have tuned in every week on his Patreon page as well for in depth calling sequences and thorough gear reviews.
Simply put, Michael is a cool guy. His sincere love for teaching others is obvious on every platform that he can be found. He is an expert-level elk hunter, caller, and offers platinum gear reviews in a refreshing way that differs from the piles of redundant opinions out there.
I am pumped to talk to Michael here, and can’t wait until our elk calling seminar on June 22 in Hayden, ID! I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did, let’s get into it!
Jim: Can you start by giving us a sort of elk hunting background?
Michael: I started my elk hunting journey in the late 80’s in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, but didn’t really catch the elk hunting bug until I moved to Idaho and got serious about bowhunting for elk. From that day on, I wanted to learn all I could about their vocalizations and behaviors.
I have spent the past 15 plus years working in the hunting industry where I have represented several companies as either Pro-Staff, Pro-Staff Director, Contributing writer, or just being a part of research and development.
Jim: So this must be where the idea of The Elk Calling Academy comes from.
Michael: I had helped people learn how to call throughout the years and one day somebody offered to pay me for my time. I told them that wouldn’t be necessary, but then my son told me he wanted to take swimming lessons and the light bulb went off in my head. We can pay for dancing, guitar, drums, swimming, and all sorts of lessons. I’m sure there are people out there that have struggled for long enough and would be willing to pay for lessons. This is how Elk Calling Academy came to be.
Jim: Makes sense, tell us more about the academy.
Michael: The Elk Calling Academy is a place where people can come and learn from my 30 plus years of experience, struggles, and successes. We teach our students all of the elk vocalizations, what they mean, how to do them, and more importantly, how to use them in the field. But, Elk Calling Academy is more than just calling. We also talk about elk behavior, stages of the rut, eScouting techniques, and all the aspects of hunting for elk. We also go over all sorts of gear with testing and reviewing to help everyone make educated buying decisions.
Jim: What is your vision for The elk Calling Academy going forward?
Michael: My goal with Elk Calling Academy is to help as many people as I can find not only their first success, but also to find consistent success.
Jim: What makes elk hunting so special to you?
Michael: It’s several things all put together. The sights, sounds, and smells of the mountains during the fall are magical to me. I absolutely love seeing the first light of day crack above the skyline and hearing the forest come alive each and every day. Hearing bulls bugle during that magical time of day continues to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
Jim: Something about that fall sunrise that does it for all of us! What about your preferred hunting method?
Michael: Without a doubt, that would be chasing elk with a bow, matching wits with them, and communicating with them via calling. I get a huge smile on my face while working a bull; seeing and hearing how he is responding to my calling.
Jim: Can you share your most memorable hunting experience with us?
Michael: There have been so many over the years that it’s tough to pick one. I remember last fall getting a call from a student of Elk Calling Academy that had just called in and shot his first ever bull with a bow. The excitement and emotion in his voice was coming through the phone just as if I was standing right there with him. Those are the stories and the phone calls that I love getting each and every fall. It takes me back and lets me relive my first bull time and time again.
Jim: I can see how that would be an awesome call to take! I know you’re kind of a gear junkie so let’s talk about it for a minute. Besides your weapon, what would be the five most essential gear items in your pack?
- Good Quality Game Bags – I personally use the set from VIAM Outdoors.
- A Parachute Hammock – I leave camp in the dark, and come back in the dark so having the ability to take a good nap and rest on the mountain side is crucial.
- A Good Lightweight water filter – water is the key to life and I have ran out of it before on the mountain side. The situation can turn critical fast. I use the MSR Trail Shot.
- A good pack that has the ability to carry meat off the mountain on the first trip. Initial Ascent and Blacks Creek Guide Gear are the packs that I have tested and trust in.
- A hunting partner that is more like family than a friend. There are times where the mountain will beat you down and having someone there you can laugh with is a key part of my success.
Jim: I love the hunting partner topic. In your opinion, what are some key characteristics in a great hunting partner?
Michael: This is one that I have been blessed with. I have hunted with some incredible people over the years but the group I hunt with now is truly special. They are:
- Serious when it’s needed
- Willing to go anywhere
- Great sense of humor
- Are not selfish at all
This list can go on and on about the group I am a part of.
Jim: What about advice to the solo hunter?
Michael: Know your limits and realize that you will have way more failed opportunities than you will successful ones. But at the same time, relish in what you have accomplished when you do find success.
Jim: Let’s talk about locating elk. You’re heading to some new elk country, what do you do?
Michael: First step is to study maps online. I look for those Northeastern facing, heavy timbered slopes that offer good bedding opportunities. From there I will expand to find potential feeding areas and also water. Once I have all three pieces located it’s time to go put boots on the ground and hike the area, reading the sign. I look for fresh sign AND old rutting sign like rubs and wallows.
Jim: How about a new hunter heading West for the first time?
Michael: Use the tools and resources available from State Fish and Game Departments. There is a ton of hunt data that can be found to help narrow down an area. Once that is done, pick up the phone and talk with a local Fish and Wildlife Biologist.
Jim: What would you say is the biggest misconception that new hunters have about elk hunting?
Michael: That it’s easy. They’ve seen videos and TV shows and it makes it look easy. They have no idea how much time was put in to make that 20 minute show. Elk hunting is hard work in tough conditions.
Jim: I would agree with that. It’s almost an injustice! I’d like to get some calling advice in here, since you are the Elk Calling Academy. What would be three important things a person absolutely needs to keep in mind to be a proficient elk caller?
- Finding a reed that fits your mouth the best
- Don’t get frustrated -it takes time
- Learn the basics
Jim: How much time and practice do you recommend before taking your calls to the mountain?
Michael: That’s a tough question to answer as people grasp the concept at different intervals. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to be perfect. It’s more important to understand what you are saying than how perfectly you are saying it. I’ve heard bulls crack off some awful sounding bugles.
Jim: When learning how to call elk, what is one KEY thing you teach?
Michael: Understand what is being said and with what level of emotion. It’s really not that much different than the human language. You say the same exact thing, but throw in some emotion and that same exact word or phrase can have a different meaning.
Jim: Great point. So, we have a seminar coming up! You, in fact, have several this summer. What are going to be some key take-aways you are hoping folks will get out of them?
Michael: Some of the keys I am going to focus on are:
- The basic, vital calling fundamentals, and how to practice them.
- Understanding elk vocalizations and how to recognize them.
- How to recognize the mindset of a bull and what to do with it.
- Calling in wolf country.
- The importance of focusing on the journey and enjoying that journey.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY – HAVE FUN WHILE DOING THIS!
Jim: Here’s an important question… Will there be any giveaways at these seminars??
Michael: I’ve been known to show up to seminars with giveaways from companies that I partner with!
Jim: Awesome! What do you like most about doing these seminars?
Michael: Easy! I love talking with people about hunting elk and hearing their stories!
Jim: Okay, only a couple more questions. What does hunting mean to you, on a personal level?
Michael: Hunting to me is a pure form of providing for my family while providing conservation at the same time. Knowing where your food comes from carries with it a much deeper connection.
Jim: What is the best excuse you have ever used to get out of work to go hunting?
Michael: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I may never get again. (It was on an over the counter hunt)
Jim: I’m going to use that one. Who would you say, past or present, has been the most influential on you in regards to hunting?
Michael: I owe a lot to where I am today to Rockie Jacobsen. That was my first Pro-Staff position and I spent 10 years being a part of Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls.
Jim: Lastly, tell us about your Patreon page.
Michael: The Patreon page is $15 a month and contains the same exact info I teach in the one on one private lessons. One key is that you will have access to all of those videos for as long as you are a member so you can go back and watch, study, and practice as much as you want. We also do private Q&A sessions for the Patreon members twice a month. Nobody else gets access to those and I don’t hold back any info at all. Another bonus is the gear giveaways. I am working on putting them together so that there is a gear giveaway every month for Patreon Members. The gear ranges from supplements, packs, to a bow and so much more in between. Become a member here, you will get a ton of elk knowledge out of it!
I’d like to thank Michael for taking the time with me, it’s always a pleasure! Be sure to check him out as follows:
Tickets for the June 22 Seminar in Hayden, ID are going fast. We are limiting it to only forty people. This four hour seminar will be packed with calling and hunting strategy that will arm you for more success this fall! Lunch provided, giveaways, and great people. Get your tickets here!
Stay tuned, more discussions with elk hunting legends coming up…