Calling all whitetails

Written by TheDeerwhisperer on Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Calling all Whitetails



The time is just about here to where the woods will start to sound like a bad techno beat coming out of a NY City night club with all the hunters grunting, bleating, rattling, snort wheezing, in some fashion trying to lure a curious/aggressive whitetail in for the shot.

Here are some things I learned that have worked best for me throughout the years when it comes to calling to whitetails. First and foremost DO NOT over call as you want to get their curiosity up so they come looking for you, but you don’t want to give them enough time to figure out that something is wrong and walk the other way. I know how hard it is to sit in a stand and see no deer, yet we have several calls with us and just want to call like crazy to make something happen, but it will usually have the reverse effect. I like to send out a series of calls mainly grunts, I will start off with some short grunts and try and time them as if a deer is walking (I try to picture a deer walking and each time he steps forward he lets out a short walking grunt). I will lay down 3-4 short grunts and then sit back for a few more seconds and hit one more long grunt along the lines of a tending grunt. After that, I will wait a solid 15-20 minutes before trying to call again. I will do this while throwing in a few doe bleats as well. I hit the doe bleat and then follow up with a tending grunt or two. I am doing my best at mimicking behaviours I have witnessed in the woods over the years and the more realistic your calling sessions are the better the results will be.

85% of my calling is done when a shooter is in sight I do not like to blind call unless the situation is right for it (heavy cover). When you are calling to a deer you see you have the ability to watch its body language to determine if he is interested, aggressive, passive, if you need to get louder, and so on to bring him in. Sometimes it’s the hair on their back that stands up to where you know you got their attention, a flicker of the ears or tail in your direction letting you know he’s got you in mind, or they stop and look your way but keep walking….this is where most hunters will screw up as they do not recognize the subtle signs and get impatient and start to overcall…A lot of times a buck will give off minor signs of interest before sneaking downwind looking for you a little while later. Be patient!

If blind (no visual on a buck) calling to try and make something happen. You need to be careful of over calling early as you are not able to see if you have caught the interest of a buck, or even how close he may be to you. This style of calling I prefer to do while hunting in heavy cover as the deer almost has to come in to see what is going on as they have low visibility. A few recommendations I have when calling blind are, start off calling soft a few short soft grunts (or bleats) because again you do not know how close a buck may be to you so you don’t want to howl off a loud call and scare them. If over a period of time the soft calling doesn’t work, on your next calling session increase your volume to reach out further. Make sure when blind calling you pay very close attention to your surroundings to spot a curious animal holding up, checking wind, and observing trying to decide to come in…again most guys think the calling didn’t work when in fact it did, they just didn’t see the prospect before it figured them out…not all bucks will come running in, in fact, the ones that come running in are usually your insubordinate bucks as they are like fiery teenagers running around all horned up. Your bigger deer will be more cautious so patients in your calling cycles are important. If you spot an animal in the distance holding up, try some aggressive short grunts, a deep lower tone as if you are challenging him. Most of the time from my experiences a short deep (but not loud) grunts, will bring in the weary buck before a loud aggressive one will. The tone says more than the volume in most cases

Don’t point your grunt call in one direction and just blow…change it up by grunting/bleating starting on one side and slowly move the other side and vice versa while blowing on it to mimic walking. This also allows you to spread the sound around to catch a wondering buck in multiple directions. Do short fast grunts moving quicker from side to side mimicking a running buck. Stand up and grunt in the front of your tree and behind it, Try cuffing your hands around the grunt tube while opening and closing your fingers to change the tone. When a buck walks and its feet hit the ground, or ducking through the thicket, running after doe, the tone of their grunt changes as those quick movements and impacts to their body change the tones…you are trying to be as realistic as possible so be creative and work the call as if you are on the ground moving around. Be the deerJ. The more exciting you sound the more excited the buck will be that hears you, and that’s what you need to do to get him in!

Use the deer around you as a natural decoy…if you have a small buck or doe in around you, use your calls, again at this point softly or it will have the opposite effect for sure…but if a big boy is around he has everything he needs to come in, smaller buck to show his dominance, visual a doe to scent check, and no reason to concentrate on you. I do this a lot…but I have practiced this bunch so I warn you here, tread carefully as you can easily scare the deer away.

I am not a big rattler in NJ, I know it works in other states, but I haven’t had great results rattling…if you have then good, but same concept make it real and add some grunts and pauses, and use good size antlers so you don’t beat the hell out of your hands.

The last component I would recommend is if your plan is go out and be aggressive with calls…throw some scents into the air along with it. If they hear the action and smell your scents with heat or tarsal gland in it…just another tool that could help him make up his mind to come check it out. There is a 2 week period of time during the year where I like to add scents in to my approach. I have noticed deer during these two weeks are the most receptive to scents in my experiences…mix in the calls and you can have an exciting hunt! These are the last two weeks of October.

To sum it up have fun, and remember you are not making a music video out there so be patient, call in longer intervals but fewer times during your hunt. Pay attention to your surroundings and the subtle body language the bucks throw your way. Move the call around as you work it and change up the tones. Add in some scents and eventually you will find the magic that works for you…BUT BE PATIENT! Can’t say it enough as if you are…your success rate will increase!

Good luck!

About The Author

A master of finding and harvesting big New Jersey whitetails with 5 NJ Pope & Youngs to...

Click here to read more about TheDeerwhisperer

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