When is the best time to use a grunt call to try to bring in a big buck?
Is it pre-rut when bucks are splitting up and establishing their territory? During the rut when they’re moving around and seeking willing does? Post-rut when they’re recovering but may still be interested in a doe if one is ready to breed?
The answer is yes. Grunting can work throughout the season, although with different levels of effectiveness. During a recent Deer Talk Now episode with Paul Vaicunas of Duel Game Calls, he discussed grunt calls with Dan Schmidt and Brad Rucks as they posed viewer questions.
Schmidt made a good point about calling that hunters often question.
“Getting a deer’s attention at 60 to 80 yards is one thing,” he said. “Getting his attention and getting him to come back is another.”
Vaicunas said all deer use vocalizations to communicate, and they’re curious about other bucks in their area.
“The neat thing about deer is no matter what time, of year, what age class or what state you’re in, all deer have one thing in common and that’s they vocalize,” he said. “The call, to me, isn’t so much about a deep or high grunt, but it’s about when you use it and the time of year.
“Early November through Thanksgiving when the rut is going on (in the Midwest) and a buck is challenged,” is a good time, Vaicunas said. “November is when I may use more aggressive tactics.”
Deer & Deer Hunting editor Gordy Krahn agreed, saying that versatility with sounds at different times of the season can pay off.
“I really like the versatility of this grunt call,” Krahn said. “By extending the Stretchback Elite’s rubber flex tube I feel like a maestro as I alter the pitch of the grunt to imitate everything from a young buck to his great granddaddy. And like a lot of other grunt calls, it won’t quit working in cold weather.”
Schmidt and Vaicunas noted that blind calling can work, but it’s best to start subtle before getting louder.
“I like your tactic of blind calling, but tone it back a bit,” Schmidt said. “A deer could be 40-50 yards away in the brush … and you can blow the deer out. Start subtle, soft and then pick it up from there.”
Vaicunas agreed, and said knowing what’s in the area or what bucks you’re hunting is a key.
“I like to aggressively call mostly when I can see the deer because I can gauge the reaction when I see the deer (after calling),” he said. “When I blind call I’ll still call with a lot of frequency but maybe not as loud or hard on the call. I don’t know if a deer has snuck in 50 yards behind me and a real loud vocalization may not be what you’re looking for … and you could blow the deer up.
“If you’re looking for a certain age class of deer, and looking for a certain age class of deer at a particular time of year, that’s when you need to know whether to dial up the aggressiveness or down the aggressiveness or dial up the volume or dial down the volume,” he said.
“A 5-year-old deer challenged by another 5-year-old deer is when you want to be a little aggressive, a little louder. Blind calling always works but you don’t blind call every five minutes. You blind call maybe in every 15-20 minute intervals or every half hour, and then wait and watch.”