How many times have you heard a story about a guy who walked into the outdoors store, picked out a grunt call from the rack, went hunting and grunted up a buck that walked within shooting range?
It may not happen often but it happens. And if absolutely nothing else, it proves that deer are curious. Bucks want to know what other buck is in his territory. Does want to know if a fawn or other doe is around. Deer are social animals — they use scrapes, rubs, tail flips-wags and multiple vocalizations to communicate in one way or another.
So why sit in a stand and not use a deer call to help your chances? Here are three you should be using this season:
Bucks use different grunts throughout the year in varying tones, all of which tell other bucks what’s going on. During summer and early autumn when they’re hanging out in bachelor groups they’ll be soft grunting, contentedly, and basically being dudes just talking to dudes.
Once the hormones start to kick in a little stronger after shedding their velvet, bucks get territorial. They have a home range, defend it, seek does within it or out of it that are willing to breed, and their communications ramp up. They snort and grunt and bellow when they’re fighting other bucks. They grunt a time or two, maybe a little more loudly, when they’re content but want any other bucks to know this is their territory. Doggin’ a doe, a buck might be grunting every other breath and keeping her moving.
“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,” said Paul Vaicunas with Duel Game Calls. “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, he said. “November is when I may use more aggressive tactics.”
Bucks may be the king of the woods but does rule the roost, keep things in check and are kind of like the deer police. Ever had a doe bust you in the stand? Yep, we all have. They’re smart, don’t like anything amiss and when they talk with each other it’s to send a definite message.
Does usually are contented and bleat softly, sort of like a hen turkey’s contented clucks and purrs. Now and then a doe may just “bleaaahh” and keep eating or nosing for acorns or whatever. It’s just a “Yep, all’s good” signal.
A little louder, a little more urgent, and maybe she’s saying it’s time for something to happen. But as veteran researcher Charlie Alsheimer explains in this DDH feature, “there is no rhyme or reason to it. I’ve studied whitetails for more than 40 years and can tell you does do not go around bleating their heads off when they’re in estrus. In fact, they are nearly mute and communicate mostly through body language and the scents they’re emitting during this time.”
So there’s some bleating but maybe not a lot, and not in any pattern. Still, it’s not a bad idea to have a quality doe bleat that you can use to send out a few calls.
Have you ever heard a fawn crying? Holy smokes. It can make your hair stand up if they’re really scared or in danger. A fawn bleat with a little emotion could bring in a buck wanting to know what the hell is going on, a big ol’ nanny doe wanting to defend the fawn in danger, or possibly a coyote or bobcat looking for an easy meal.
In any case, you’ll possibly have a shot at something. Check out this versatile call that gives you all three: fawn bleats, doe bleats and buck grunts.