It’s August in Montana and that means every elk hunter in the state is tuning up their calls and fantasizing about mountain warfare we know as archery elk hunting. This time of year attention is drifting from the trout streams and into the dark timber, and that means pulling out our gear, dialing in our bows, and dusting off the mouth reeds. This is also a great time to head out to the garage and build your own personal bugle tube. Building a tube is easy, inexpensive, and a great way to spend some time with friends and family.. A home made tube can be built in about 30 minutes for around 8 bucks, and the sound is fantastic. You don’t need a 40 dollar tube to call in a bull, and the satisfaction of interacting with the timber ghost with a tube you built yourself is awesome! I’m an outfitter, and I have been using tubes I built for years now and called in many bulls with them. If I am comfortable taking my clients out with a home made bugle, you should be confident in yours also. Let’s get started.
Your supplies are simply, a whiffle ball bat, flex hose, electricians tape, parachute cord, and some old camo. The bat pictured in the photo I purchased for $5.50 at Kmart. The flex hose sells by the foot at Ace Hardware for $2.00/ft and is called pool vacuum hose. I like that hose as it is a little more rigid and comes in 1.5-inch diameter, however, you can also use washing machine discharge hose or any other hose you can get. You will need a utility knife, saw to cut the bat, and I like to use a hole saw on my drill for the bat end. Needle nose pliers, sharpie pen, and tape measure will round out the list.
I start by cutting out bat end typically with 2.5 inch hole saw on the drill. You can use different hole size depending on your bat, and what sound you want to produce. I used a 2 inch hole cut in the bugle pictured for example.
Once your bat end is holed, drop in the flex tube and hold up to light. You will see where the tube stops in the bat, make a mark 1/4 inch or so below that stop point on the bat handle. If you don’t have an adequate light you can also run the flex tube over the handle and mark.
Cut bat handle where you marked, cut does not need to be perfect, put bat handle aside.
Slide flex hose through the hole at end of bat and catch with needle nose pliers through the cut handle of bat. Pull through, once you get flex hose through you can slowly twist it making sure that it is tight in bat handle.
Adjust bugle to your comfort spot, I usually have about three inches of flex tube extending out of bat handle. If you are using 12 inch of flex tube pull tube out and cut off to desired length, I tape it with electricians tape to keep it secure.
Once you have the amount of flex extending out of bat you want, slide cut off bat handle into flex tube, mark where it stops and add an inch or so. Cut bat handle at the mark and slide into flex tube as your mouth piece. I run the tape over mouth piece hole and cut out, sometimes I sand it down as smooth as possible before adding tape. Install mouthpiece into flex tube and tape in place. At this point your tube is basically built, try some sounds through it.
Cut our some old camo and wrap it around tube, make sure camo is inside out and bobby pin where your seam needs to be.
Sew on your camo tube sleeve and turn back out and slide over tube. I use camo cloth tape to secure sleeve but electrical tape is also fine.
Drill holes in mouth piece and outer rim of tube, run through parachute cord tying ends to secure. I like to tie just one end then adjust bugle to fit me. Your done!!!
Go out and enjoy that satisfaction of calling in a monster bull with your own home made personal grunt tube!
Building your own tube is a satisfying and rewarding endeavor. You do not have to sacrifice quality sound at all, these tubes are effective. If you purchase 18 inch or so of flex tube, you can even make a smaller pack bugle out of the left over flex tube! That is one full sized field bugle, and one pack bugle, custom made for ten bucks or less. It is also a way to use up the old camo you just haven’t been able to get rid of.