October 21, 2021
By Ralph Cianciarulo
We spotted the doe across the cut corn field — her tail was at half mast, her chest was pounding and her mouth wide open gasping for all the air she could breathe in. He stood there alone and proud, scaring the area for any intruder that would challenge his find. Any slight movement on her part and he was quick to respond, corralling her away from the thick cover. I threw the book at him — grunts, growls, snort wheezes — and then it hits me…reach out to her!
I used my True Talker call and blew hard into it while holding down the fawn bleat tone. I tried to sound like a fawn in distress. The doe instantly looked toward my direction, and as soon as she committed to trotting our way I stopped calling. He did everything he could to turn her, but the fawn distress call was too instinctively strong for this doe and she simply had to come help. He followed, and the rest is history!
Calling deer is not hard, the biggest thing to overcome is what we all were taught as young hunters venturing into the woods — sit still, be quiet and don’t move!
Deer do vocalize. They have very common distinct tones and calls, and once you learn them you will be surprised how often you have heard them but never knew what they were.
The most common is the tending grunt. This call is the burp that rapidly progresses as the buck is chasing or getting close to his doe. Many times you'll also hear them running with leaves rustling. This call works for drawing the bucks into the area, but many times when they don’t see anything they lose interest and keep on the prowl. Using a decoy will help to solidify the deal. We've used a grunt walking in at dark, and oftentimes we've had deer calm down — no snorting, blowing or running off the small woodlots we hunt.
The growl — the first time I heard it in the deer woods I swore Sasquatch lived! I didn’t know what it was, but as I located the buck down a nearby draw standing and growling at the doe in a thicket I realized there might be something to this call. I can tell you, we have not had the success that others have seen as far as bucks responding and coming in to a growl, but it has worked a few times. Those times paid off, so this is a call you want to keep in your arsenal. You never know when it may come in handy.
The Snort Wheeze
The snort wheeze is a simple call that will either make them run straight away from you or bring them in on a string. As in any calling situation, there are times it works and times it doesn’t. However, the snort wheeze is a call where your dominant buck is saying, "I have had enough. Now leave me alone and get out of here."
We've all been there — spotted the buck and tried every single call we ever knew of and he never even lifted his head. Don’t be alarmed that you're doing it wrong. Let me keep it simple — how many times have you been out where someone calls your name without you ever hearing them? Your mind was on something else and you kept going on your way. I truly believe this happens more often than not, but we still need the ability to throw the kitchen sink at them. There's always that one chance a call connects and turns him in your direction.
Bottom line? Realize that all wild animals have the unique ability to pinpoint where a call came from and be prepared to not get caught with your bow hanging on a hook. When calling, be the ultimate predator. Prepare yourself for the shot beforehand, because it can — and usually will — be quick when that buck does respond.