The whitetail's breeding season is just around the corner -- here are some tips to help you this fall.
Grunt Calling Tips:
To increase your calling success never call to a buck that is walking directly toward you or when it is looking at you. The odds are much greater that in these two scenarios the deer will see you. Wait until the deer is angled or is not looking at you. By keeping a deer guessing where the vocalization is coming from, it will eventually get close enough to offer a shot.
One of the most common and costly calling mistakes made is to make a grunt call sound too loud. In a deer’s world a high volume communication sound suggest threatening behavior and/or the potential for physical aggression. Trying to make your calls sound like they are being made by the toughest buck in the woods will end up working against you. Loud intensive grunts only serve to intimidate an overwhelming number of other bucks, including adult bucks that occupy a high position in the pecking order.
By keeping the volume of grunt calls low the sound will be construed by other bucks as it is coming from a buck that can be intimated with only using aggressive body language, or is easily in the unlikely event a fight should be necessary.
If you grunt at a buck, and he absolutely pays no attention to it, stop using the grunt call and use an estrus adult doe blat instead. Many times this one tactic will be all that is needed to get the buck interested enough to respond.
When using a grunt (or any other deer call) and you see the buck approaching but he eventually hangs up, stop calling. Let the deer’s natural curiosity work in your favor. Be patient. The buck will either start circling toward you, or he will become uninterested and begin to slowly walk off. At that moment either a soft tending or trail grunt will work to peak his interest again. I often include a very low estrus blat as well.
Bucks generally don’t respond well to any type of grunts that the caller repeatedly makes. It simply doesn’t seem natural to them. What I mean by saying repeatedly is blowing a particular grunt over and over for minutes at a time. Even when you make trail or tending grunt vocalizations, take short 90 to 120 second breaks to make them sound more natural to another buck.
When using a grunt call (or rattling) the most important part of the tactic includes paying strict attention by using your eyes, ears, and even you sense of smell. Research has proven that about 75 to 80 percent of game that is called-in, respond without ever being seen by the hunter. A whitetail buck’s instinctive behavior almost always necessitates he respond cautiously. Therefore they will slip silently into the area taking advantage of all available cover and remain hidden until they are sure it is safe to proceed. After each call, scrutinize the surrounding cover in all directions. Look for pieces of the deer rather than the entire deer. Pay close attention to nearby saplings and look for movement from them. Bucks that respond to grunts will sometimes stop and get into a mock battle with a sapling to release tension or frustration before moving into more open areas. Many times I have heard a soft guttural grunt from nearby cover before ever spotting the buck. Don’t underestimate the value of using your sense of smell. During the rut, bucks can smell of tarsal scent. The odor is easily detected but only if you set your brain to the task of actually reacting to it. Over the years, I have killed several bucks by smelling them before actually seeing them.
A terrific decoy tactic that includes a grunt call is what I term my “Big Four.” Set up two bucks with small antlers facing very closely to one another. If the decoy’s ears are moveable, turn backwards so the bucks look aggressive toward each other. Spray one buck’s back legs with tarsal scent and the other buck’s back legs with buck urine. Begin by rattling (too over aggressively but enough for the clicking and ticking of the antlers to be heard for a hundred yards or so in all directions. Rattle for about 90 seconds, stop for about two minutes make a few short burp grunts and rattle again for another 90 seconds. Then make several tending-grunts quickly followed by a couple of “stutter estrus blats.” Set everything down and start looking, listening and smelling. If there is a buck in the area your tactic should have gotten his utmost attention. Remember he may not rush out to investigate what is going on. So be patient. I have had to wait up to an hour or more on more than one occasion for a buck to respond to this strategy – several times even after I saw the buck come in only a short time after ending the estrus blats!