Deer calls have become all the rage during the last decade of TV hunting shows. If you have been a naive hunting show viewer, you now think that all you have to do is blow into a deer grunt call and a mature buck will come running.
A more discerning viewer with hunting experience knows better. Calling deer is hard to do, but it can and does work, so you need to know the best three calls to have in your bag of tricks to avoid going home with a nothing-burger during deer season.
The grunt call of a mature buck has become the main-staple of both bowhunters and gun hunters. It is a universal call that works on most deer species, but it is most effective where bucks have to compete with other bucks for breeding rights: also known as ‘Whitetail country.’
In almost every state where Whitetails are managed, there are prospering herds which require breeding bucks to encounter other breeding bucks during the rut. In fact, most mature bucks spend most of their breeding time worrying about the possible intrusion of other bucks, so grunt calls are a good method of getting a buck’s attention whether it is a single grunt or the rapid-fire grunt of a tending buck.
I have tried grunt calls in just about every hunting situation over the last 20 years and to be honest, deep grunt calling repels deer more than it lures them in. But, it still works and you should not be afraid to try it if you see a buck out of your shooting range. It could be the perfect hail-Mary play you are looking for.
Much like a deep grunt call, rattling antlers to simulate fighting or sparring deer can be effective in luring in a shooter buck; however, keep in mind, it is still an over-represented calling technique on TV.
It does work, but it appeals more to satellite or younger deer that come to the sound out of curiosity. Obviously, it can bring in a bruiser buck, but it has just been my experience that lesser bucks like to check out any action that is happening within their earshot, and if you live in big buck country, some ‘lesser’ bucks are still trophy quality. To give rattling a little flavor, I like to mix in the rapid-fire grunt call mentioned above or a snort-wheeze while rattling. In theory, it simulates an excited buck, while announcing an ongoing conflict, which can be too much for any buck to resist checking out.
In my opinion, the fawn bleat can be the most effective call in the deer-hunting woods. You can use it before, during and after the rut, and almost any deer will come check it out. Mostly, a hot doe will be tempted to investigate while being bred and that means that she will be bringing Mr. Bigboy with her.