Estrous Does Are Mute, but Bucks Still Respond to Calls

White-tailed deer behaviorists and those who raise deer for research purposes
mostly agree that white-tailed does are typically not that vocal during the rut. In
fact, in their reports in Deer & Deer Huning over the past 30 years, many
of the top behavorists and researchers have stated that does are most vocal during
the fawning season.

Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III was possibly the first behaviorist to document this whitetail
tendency, noting how does make a soft, cat-like mewing sound when they call for their
hidden fawns. While photographing whitetails in the 1950s, Rue noted how fawns, after
hearing a doe’s bleats, jumped to their feet and went to their mothers to nurse.

Despite a doe’s mute tendencies in autumn, both Rue and Charles Alsheimer agree that
bleat calls (tubes and cans) are extremely effective for attracting adult deer during
fall hunting seasons.

These seemingly contradictory observations bring rise to an interesting question:
Are all whitetails trained at birth to respond to doe bleats?

We might never know, but we do know that calling elicits a definite and pronounced
response in deer. To learn more, check out my new article, “Bleat Performance,” in
the September issue of the magazine. It hits newsstands on June 24.

Dan Schmidt, Editor

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