Mature whitetail bucks can be frustratingly elusive because of their stealth and unpredictability during much of the hunting season. Fortunately during the rut, many bucks slip out of that mold and shift to a bold and boisterous attitude. They will even announce their presence with a variety of vocalizations.
The growl is one of the most aggressive vocalizations in a whitetail buck’s repertoire, and is not witnessed as often as the more common grunts used throughout a buck’s social life. A buck will growl if it is near a doe coming into, or is in, estrus and he is completely fired up and excited. A fairly equal buck-to-doe ratio with plenty of competing bucks can really add fuel to the fire in this scenario.
A buck growl is made when the grunting becomes so close together and extremely intense that it will come out as one drawn-out growl or roar. It is a very guttural and threatening noise that will alert any buck within earshot to the mood of its originator. The sound of an agitated farm cow might be the most similar sound that it could be compared to.
The two-week period before and after the peak of the rut is the most likely time that a buck might elicit the growl. This can be especially true before and after a cold front moves through, and during the first and last two hours of the day, all times when deer are up and moving the most.
Bucks that hear the call will often come to investigate the situation, expecting to find a receptive doe in the area. Some might charge in looking for a fight, but more often will sneak downwind to try and get a read on the situation before going in for a closer look.
Three more tips to grunting and vocalizations:
Early in the season bucks are fired up with testosterone after the summer bachelor group breakup and as the rut gets underway. The rut, by the way, is a long process that isn’t just a week or so when we see chasing and breeding. That’s the peak of the rut. The entire rut is longer, involves leaving signposts (rubs, scrapes), defending territory and fighting other bucks for does, seeking and so forth to the peak. During this time your aggressive grunting may get the attention of a buck ready to defend his turf. And if you see a buck after grunting and he decides to keep walking, put a little more emotion into the next few grunts. Keep his attention.
Rut’s Heating Up? Oh, Heck Yeah!
Ah, one of the most fun times of the year. Bucks are losing their minds chasin’ females and will be making different vocalizations. This is when you can fire ’em up with tending grunts, as if you’re in a buck’s territory pursuing a doe. This is when you want to be “that guy” in the buck world stepping on toes and invading space because the Home Daddy could come looking for you. Be on alert.
Don’t Worry About Perfection
You don’t want to sound like someone’s grandpa after a bowl of butterbeans, but you don’t have to be as perfect as an opera singer, either. Animals make different sounds, including bucks and does, and they’re all different. So if your buck grunt or growl doesn’t sound “just right” to you, don’t fret over it. Keep grunting and have your head on a swivel looking for movement, and be ready.