- Calling Whitetail Deer 101 | Grunts & Bleats
Calling Whitetail Deer 101 | Grunts & Bleats
By: Dylan Hayward
Calling to the animals that you are hunting can be a really exciting experience. We all know that feeling when you are making a hen yelp and you hear the thunderous yell from a gobbler. Or if you’ve had the privilege of hunting elk out west and you hit a cow call and you hear a bugle that makes the hair on your arms stand up. It takes hunting to a new level, you feel more involved with nature and with the animals themselves. Is this possible to experience with whitetail deer? Absolutely.
Deer Call Types
There are a few different types of calls you can use to entice a whitetail buck. You can use different calls depending on which part of the season you’re hunting, but for the most part, you’ll want to stick to using calls around the rut, when bucks are more responsive. The three main types of whitetail calls are the grunt call, doe bleat, and rattling antlers.
The grunt tube is probably the most commonly used whitetail call, and with that, it will likely generate the best results for most hunters. Grunt tubes can be extremely effective during the pre-rut, but can still work well during the rut and post-rut. I’m not a big believer in blind calling, however, if the woods are dead, I will try to throw out some tending grunts to see if I can make something out of nothing. I have found that the best way to learn how to call is by observing deer in their natural element, and therefore, trying to make your grunt calls sound as natural as possible.
Rattling antlers are by far my favorite call to use during the rut. It can be difficult to pinpoint the best time of the year that rattling will be effective, but I typically focus on the pre-rut when bucks are full of testosterone and tend to be much more aggressive, and a fight will peak their interest. Rattling is a call that I don’t mind blind calling with, as it produces a very loud sound and can pull bucks in from a hundred or more yards away. I was hunting the rut in Ohio several years ago and I was set up in a nice travel corridor. With my rattling antlers alone, I called in seven bucks total that evening, and ended up harvesting the seventh one. Ever since then, I have been a believer.
The doe bleat is a call that can be underappreciated at times. This call is usually in the form of a can, but it can also be done using a grunt tube that has adjustable reeds. Essentially what this call signifies is a doe letting her family know where she is. It’s more of just a contact call, however, it’s extremely effective for luring bucks in. I like to hit a doe bleat every hour or so during the rut and post-rut, to see if I can locate a buck close by that I might not be able to see.
Know Your Gear and Your Animal
When it comes to calling, always remember that less can be more. Whitetail deer are smart, and they know when a situation doesn’t seem authentic. Take some time to observe deer and how they communicate. Every time I’m in the woods, I learn something new about whitetails that further helps my hunting strategies and sharpens my skills. Know your gear and know the animal you’re pursuing and you’ll have a successful season.