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Whitetail Deer Calling 101

Image via Wikicommons

Don’t let that buck of a lifetime walk by out of range. Use these deer calling tips to bring him in.

Listen up kids. Class is in session.

This is the time of year whitetail hunters dream about. The breeding season is about to kick off and their is no better time to employ some whitetail deer calling than during the next few weeks. Here is a crash course in deer vocalizations and how they can be used to take down a mature buck.


Bucks make this vocalization during the rut to show dominance. Experienced hunters have probably heard a buck following a hot doe and grunting every couple of seconds. When a buck hears a grunt he may come in to investigate the “other buck” in his territory.

Grunts can be made with your natural voice with practice, but most hunters will do better using one of the commercially available grunt tubes.

Use this call when a shooter buck is passing out of range. Blow the call in quick bursts until the buck looks your way, then get quiet. Don’t call while the buck is looking in your direction or he will pinpoint the sound and pick you off. If the buck starts moving in your direction, get ready for a shot because he is likely to come in close. If he starts to leave, give him another grunt or two. This will sometimes irritate him enough to make him come in. If the buck doesn’t respond after a two or three series of grunts, let him walk or try a different deer calling method. Overuse of any call will reduce its effectiveness in your hunting area.


Rattling is meant to mimic the sound of two bucks fighting or sparring. During the pre-rut bucks will spar and butt heads lightly, but by the time the peak breeding season rolls around, these sparring matches can turn into all out brawls.

Hunters should keep this in mind when they attempt to use this deer calling method and cater the intensity of their calls to the phase of the season.

Hunters have a number of choices when it comes to rattling aids including rattle bags, synthetic antlers, plastic handles that nest into one another, and of course real antlers. Rattle bags and plastic rattling devices offer decent sounds and excellent portability, but when it comes to realism nothing compares to a set of natural antlers. If possible, hunters should use a set of antlers the same size as the bucks they are pursuing.

As mentioned, hunters should cater their rattling to seasonal timing. During the pre-rut and chase phase, hunters should mimic a sparring match by lightly tickling antlers together for 15-20 seconds. After a pause, hit the antlers (or bags or handles) together with slightly more intensity, but save the real banging for the peak rut.

After rattling, hunters should remain still since bucks will be coming in looking for the fight. Bucks may respond immediately or up to 30 minutes after a rattling sequence. Keep your eyes peeled and watch this tried and true deer calling technique work for you.

killable buckwos

Snort Wheeze

The snort wheeze is a call made by a buck that is really fired up. It consists of two short bursts of air, followed by one longer burst, and means either, “I am going to kick your butt,” or, “I just kicked your butt.” Hunters can use a dominate buck’s territorial instincts against him by using the snort wheeze.

The snort wheeze is relatively easy to produce with your mouth and many grunt calls now come with a special snort wheeze attachment.

The snort wheeze should be used sparingly because bucks don’t make this noise very often. It may bring in a deer that has refused to come to grunting or rattling or send him running the other way, but when it works, it really works. Bucks that come to the snort wheeze will be bristled up and ticked off.

Watching a buck come in to a snort wheeze is one of the best experiences in the deer calling world. Give it a try and see how it works in your hunting area.

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Doe Bleats

Does make this vocalization all year long and, during the rut, bucks are looking for does. A bleat is a nasally ascending “Baawwlll.” Bucks cruising for does will often come in to this sound.

The easiest way to make a doe bleat is with a can call. Simply flip the can and wait for the buck. Mouth blown callers can also be productive, but make sure you practice before you try them in the woods.

Bleats are most effective when combined with grunts because bucks will think a rival is taking “their” hot doe. Bleats can also call in does looking for company and these does may be dragging along a large antlered suitor.

Whitetail Deer Buck

Bringing It All Together

Save your deer calling for the pre-rut and rut when it will be most effective, and consider messing with a buck’s sense of smell by using scents in conjunction with calling.

At the right time and place any of these deer calling techniques can be effective by themselves, but they work best when combined to paint an auditory picture for any buck within earshot.

Start out with a doe bleat and a couple of soft grunts. Grunt more aggressively and follow that with a snort wheeze. Finally, get out your rattling antlers and knock them together.

When your target buck walks into range looking for a fight, give him a knock out punch.

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Whitetail Deer Calling 101