Maybell Elementary School students sound off in elk bugling contest

Meeker Police Chief Phil Stubblefield started an elk bugling and camo competition for elementary school students in 1985. This year, he helped the Moffat County Sheriff's Office start the competition for Moffat County students. The first contest was held at Maybell Elementary School, and Maybell General Store donated prizes.
Courtesy photo

MAYBELL — A lovelorn elk wouldn’t stand a chance against the skillful bull elk bugles of students from Maybell Elementary School.

The inaugural Maybell School Elk Bugling and Camo Contest sounded off Wednesday, Oct. 24, sponsored by Maybell General Store and Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.

Haigen Harrison won grand champion in both competitions.

During the competition, students dressed in camouflage clothing and used a long bugle tube — which is about an inch and a half wide and two feet long — to call like a bull elk in rut.

Bugling is a trick many hunters use to bring elk closer, and it can be difficult to master.

“Students have to use their own voice,” said Meeker Police Chief Phil Stubblefield. “They are just about as good as the adults.”

Adult judges turn their backs so that they don’t know who is making the call and assign a score to the caller who sounds most like a bull elk.

When competition is close between two callers, a “bugle off” is held to determine the grand champion, Stubblefield said.

He started the Meeker Elk Bugling and Camo Contest in 1985.

An archer who has used bugles for years, Stubblefield said he thought the activity would be of interest to elementary students in the area, as many have a hunting legacy.

“I thought that the kids would enjoy it,” he said.

For the last few years, he’s encouraged other schools to hold similar competitions during Red Ribbon Week — a national campaign that encourages kids to live drug free.

“Sheriff KC Hume was interested in it. Deputy Ryan Hampton and Investigator Gary Nichols helped with the program in Maybell, and it looks like it will continue on,” Stubblefield said. “Both are excited for next year’s contest in Maybell and starting a contest in Craig with elementary school students.”

That’s important to the law enforcement official, who will be retiring in the next four or five years and would like to see the event gain popularity before then.

“Some big cities have symphonies, and we have bugling,” Stubblefiled said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or

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