If you want to virtually guarantee a deer this year, learn how to use these five vocal deer calls.
If you walk down a sporting goods store aisle, chances are your head will spin with all the deer calls on the shelves. It seems there are a dozen different variations of each call, all promising to be better than the last.
So how do we begin to sift through them? Which call is the best for bringing in a deer during hunting season?
The simple answer is: it depends. The magic call you’re looking for can depend on time of the season, size and maturity of the herd, and even simple differences in (deer) personality.
Whitetails are surprisingly vocal animals, and actually use several different sounds to communicate. However, we’ve narrowed down the best of the best to the following five deer calls, ranked from least aggressive to most.
1. Fawn Bleat
In the early bowhunting season, you really can’t top a fawn bleat/bawl to attract does. Does still have the maternal instincts that took over during the summer, and will quickly respond to a lost or even injured fawn. If you’re hunting for meat or trying to reduce your herd size, this is a surefire vocalization to include in your deer calls.
Bonus tip: you can also sometimes use the fawn bleat during the late season (second rut) to attract bucks looking for younger does. Use it timidly though, or you’ll scare everything off.
Fawn bleats are commonly sold as can calls. Use it a few times every half hour or so in thick cover, and you’re sure to pull a doe in.
2. Doe Grunt
Throughout the season, does use grunts or bleats for basic communication when they encounter one another. They are a good social call that will calm other bucks and does down and attract them into range to look for the new doe making the sounds. They are especially useful in thick cover, where does may use them to find other does.
Use this call every hour or so throughout the hunting season, and you’ll pull a few inquisitive deer out of the thick brush at some point.
3. Buck Tending Grunt
During the pre-rut through the rut, bucks use grunts to seek out does and challenge other bucks. When they are right behind an estrous doe, they’ll use a series of short tending grunts. If you’re after a mature whitetail, keep your tending grunts louder, lower in tone, and more drawn out to imitate a large rival that a mature deer is bound to investigate. If you’re hunting for meat, keep them softer, higher in tone, and shorter so younger bucks will come check it out without fear of being destroyed by a mature bruiser.
Blow four to five short grunts on the tube, and repeat the sequence as necessary. It’s a good blind calling technique, as it can pull a curious buck out of heavy cover to find the buck mating with his does.
4. Doe Estrous Bleat
When does are in estrous and looking to breed, they will let out a short bleat to attract bucks. You commonly find them in can calls, as this method really imitates the sound well. However, hunters commonly use the can call incorrectly. You should flip the can call over quickly for a short bleat. A longer, drawn-out bleat is a more alarming sound.
A great tactic during the peak of the rut is to let out a few doe in estrous bleats, followed by a series of five to 10 buck tending or breeding grunts, which imitates a buck hot on the heels of a doe or actively breeding her. Nearby bucks will often charge in, looking to get in on the action.
5. Snort Wheeze
One of the most aggressive deer calls you can make is the snort wheeze. When a buck encounters an estrous doe or wants to challenge a rival buck, they will use this call. It sounds exactly like you think it would, with two to three quick snort bursts, followed by a drawn out wheeze.
This is one of the few deer calls you can only use during the rut and when you know there are mature deer around. Don’t use it blindly; only use a snort wheeze on bucks you can see. A good example is when a bruiser buck is walking the opposite direction; use this call to reverse his course, unless he’s following a hot estrous doe. They haven’t come up with a deer call that can stop a buck from that easily, so it’s typically not worth trying.
Using only these five simple calls, you’ll find the deer you’re looking for this fall. Or rather, the deer will find you.