Editors Blog

Are Doe Bleat Reactions a Learned Response?

DEER  doe with fawns via Minnesota DNR

Bleat reactons: a learned response?

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

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?

— Dan Schmidt, Editor-in-Chief

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