Whitetail Sounds and Tips - By Scott Cole
Do you know which deer calls to use and when to use them? Hunters have used deer calls for many years trying to mimic the sounds they make. Sounds that whitetails make are simplified into four categories. The grunt, bleat, rattle, and snort wheeze are the four major sounds that you will most likely hear from a deer and will try to mimic while hunting. We will discuss the sounds and how they can help you in the field.
One of the most important and popular calls for deer is the grunt. A grunt is often used by a deer to project dominance over a doe or other bucks in the area. Bucks will grunt during all phases of the rut such as making scrapes, rubbing trees, fighting, or chasing does. Trying to mimic some of these grunt sounds may help you bring in a bruiser. There are a few different ways that you can grunt. A soft grunt is often most effective when a buck is in sight but out of shooting range. You will want to blow the call in quick bursts when they are turned away from you. Don’t ever blow when facing you! It will give away your position! In my experience, I often quit calling once they get within in 50 yards or I can see them coming to me either by running or at a steady pace. You can also grunt if a buck is not present. This is called “blind calling.” Blow your grunt call 2-3 times about every 30 minutes using short to long notes. A buck may be inclined to investigate another buck making sounds in his territory. Remember, a grunt is a dominance challenge and a buck will often move towards you if they are interested.
Rattling is the second most common sound that hunters will use while deer hunting. Rattling is an aggressive call to simulate bucks fighting. Fighting will often happen from the pre-rut to post-rut. The key to being successful using rattling is knowing the different phases of the rut and how bucks spar. During the pre-rut, bucks will have soft altercations. They will butt heads and spar lightly as the try to establish dominance. So when rattling, you want to hit the rattles lightly and short repetitions. The peak of the rut gets more intense. Bucks will get into more intense altercations. They will aggressively fightfor breeding rights of does. You will want to hit the rattles harder so they make a louder sound and for longer repetitions. There is little fighting during the post-rut but rattling can come into play. Any does that did not get bred will come back in heat and bucks will compete for those does. Be aware of how much you rattle. Too much rattling is unnatural and will decrease your chances of a dominant buck to come running in. Always, keep rattling related to the different phases of the rut.
Another sound that deer make comes from does and fawns. This sound is the bleat. Does bleat throughout the year. They will particularly do this when being sought out by bucks. Fawns bleat to call out to their mothers. A fawn bleat is a higher pitched one. A bleat can be used to communicate with other does. This may bring in does that have bucks trailing them. Combining bleats and grunts can be very effective. This may trigger mature bucks into thinking a “hot” doe is being pursued by a rival buck.
The last major sound a whitetail deer will make is a snort wheeze. Some people are lucky to even hear a buck make this sound. I, myself, have heard it several times. In fact, I have actually had a buck snort wheeze at me. This sound is obviously a buck call only. This is a dominance call and used to intimidate subordinate bucks. The snort wheeze sound is created by 2 quick and short bursts of air followed by 1 long one. A snort wheeze can heighten a dominate bucks territorial instincts. It can produce a ticked off rutting buck or it can send him away. You only want to use this call at the right time. The snort wheeze should never be your first choice of calls.
In conclusion, deer calls can play for you or they can play against you. There is no doubt that you will make mistakes using them while hunting. I have made plenty mistakes. Getting experience using them and learning what works and what doesn’t takes some time. Some good advice that I can give is stop using them if they are close or if they are coming. Once they are in shooting range or you see him come running to you, you should be getting prepared for a shot and being quiet. Calling when they are close will spook them. There are many good grunt calls, bleat calls, and rattles out there. Find some you like and experiment with them and maybe one day you can bring that big boy in.