How to Use the Snort Vocalization Effectively All-Season Long
Thirty years ago, information about deer calls probably would not have caught your attention. And for a very good reason – back then, not many hunters believed deer calls were effective. In the 1960s, using deer calls was a well-kept secret. They were mostly used by savvy woodsmen who hunted remote wilderness areas like the Adirondack Mountains and other parts of the country. These old timers rarely talked about the effectiveness of using calls, especially the adult doe blat, a rudimentary call made of rubber bands and balsa wood. It was a deer call that consistently worked to attract deer.
Of all the deer calls made, I can assure you the snort is by far the most useful to deer hunters. It is a call that can be used throughout the entire deer season. But like any deer call, hunters must know how to use it properly for it to work to be consistently successful.
There have been innumerable research studies on white-tailed deer vocalizations. Many differ widely about how many different vocalizations deer make. Some scientists claim as many as 400 different sounds are included in a deer’s language. However, a majority of biologists agree that deer make 13 central sounds including the snort, grunt, adult blat, and fawn bleat. Each of these primary vocalizations, though, includes sub-sounds (aka sub-cadences). A sub-cadence includes an inflection that is slightly different than the primary sound. Deer use different tones to communicate different messages to one another. For example, if a person calmly asks, “Who’s there?”—its intonation doesn’t sound alarming to other people. But if the tone is amplified, even slightly, it can mean something more concerning. If it is made loudly, and with intensity, it immediately gets the attention of everyone hearing it. Therefore, changing of tones communicates different messages in a deer’s language too.
This is absolutely the case for each of the four primary sounds deer make that many hunters are most familiar with. The adult blat for instance has five most common cadences. The fawn bawl has four different tones, the grunt has seven sounds, and the snort has six--four of which work fiendishly well on deer. However, when using any of the deer calls, cadence or inflection is critical to success. To consistently attract deer using calls boils down to this--make calls correctly and deer will respond. Make them wrong and deer will ignore them or even spook.
Regrettably, many deer hunters associate the sound of a snort with deer fleeing off with tails held high. Consequently, the snort call is misunderstood, and unfortunately not used by many hunters. That is a critical tactical error because each of the vocalizations of the snort are highly effective. It is an easy call to learn, and it can be used all season long. From the crack of dawn on opening day to the last rays of legal shooting light at season’s end, a snort call can be used anywhere in North America. A snort call can either attract, hold, stop, or intentionally frighten deer from cover.
By learning how to use all the different sub-cadences of the primary snort I assure you that it will dramatically improve your deer sightings and kill ratio. No dedicated deer hunter should ever be afield during the entire season without a snort call, safely tucked away in a jacket pocket for quick access.
Much more importantly, two of the snort’s tones, the alarm, and the alarm-distress, work flawlessly well. Why? Because one communicates possible danger, and the other communicates existing danger.
This is my favorite deer call over all other deer calls. The alarm-distress cadence is very versatile. It can be used all season long in scenarios when still-hunting, tracking, during deer drives and when posting. It is purposely used to frighten deer from cover like standing corn fields, patches of laurel or briars, blowdowns, pine thickets, bogs, and any other heavy cover that deer tend to hide in. It is the best way to naturally spook deer from their hiding places by using a sound that instinctively forces a deer to react to it by trying to escape the area.
It is also the absolute best way to leave a treestand or blind when deer are milling around it in the woods, and especially in a field. This often happens to hunters when they want to leave a stand at the end of the day. Many times, they remain in their stand until the deer leave the area or risk spooking them when they leave. No one wants to remain on a stand on a cold, frigid night any longer than they have to.
To avoid spooking deer to your presence when leaving a stand, blow an alarm-distress snort vocalization to indicate there is immediate danger. The alarm-distress will quickly frighten off deer so you can leave the stand undetected. In so doing, you eliminate the probability that deer will associate human presence to the stand as you leave it. Deer that are frightened off by an alarm-distress call, do not treat the area as one to keep away from. On the other hand, if they were frightened off by human presence, they could mark the stand as an area to avoid. By blowing the alarm-distress call, deer believe just another deer was spooked and vocalized an alarm-distress call. It allows a hunter to leave the stand without deer relating human presence to it.
The make the alarm-distress call, blow two loud snorts “Phew! . . . . Phew!” Quickly follow them with several shorter and softer snorts that progressively become quieter. So, the sequence sounds like this, “Phew! . . . Phew! . . . phew, phew, phew, phew, phew.”
A majority of hunters encounter the alarm snort as they make their way to their stands prior to first light. It can also happen anytime during the day when a hunter unintentionally spooks a deer while walking along a log road, a trail, or making their way through the woods to a stand. The sound is made by a deer to alert other deer of a likely threat. The deer is frightened, but it has not pinpointed the potential danger through sight or smell. It may continue to make two snorts to help it isolate the possible threat. The alarm snort sounds like this, “Phew . . . Phew.” There is a brief second or so between the two snorts that always occurs. Deer that make this sound have not scented (winded) the danger, instead they have heard something that alerts them and react by making an alarm snort. Deer that make an alarm snort are prime candidates to call into your position. They are the most callable deer in the woods.
When you hear this sound stop in your tracks and make two snorts back to the deer. This is why it is important to keep your snort call accessible in a pocket and not a backpack. If possible, slowly kneel down and make two snorts back to the deer. Blow the snort call with medium pressure, then hesitate about a second and blow another phew sound. Do NOT blow more than two snorts. Your reply has set the stage for the deer to think the original noise it heard was made by another deer. It’s curiosity will take over at that exact point. This is particularly true when the encounter has happened on the way to your stand in the morning darkness.
Once the deer hears your snorts it is almost certain it will quickly reply with two snorts. Each time the deer replies, blow back from a direction other than where the deer is (left or right). Your reply should not be loud or aggressive. Keep the same volume as the deer’s snort. As long as the deer does not wind you it will remain close by, trying to locate what it thinks is another deer. Often, a buck or doe will become so curious it will begin to walk toward the sounds to see what frightened it. As long as the deer continues to make two snorts, you can reply. But once it gets closer than 50 yards – stop replying to it. Its inquisitiveness will keep it coming toward you – unless it winds you. If this occurs, prior to first light it is very possible to keep the deer close enough to identify it when legal shooting light arrives. I have nicknamed this call the “Too Late” snort. By the time the deer discovers it was not another deer calling back to it – it’s already too late for it to escape.
To see and hear more about how to use all the different cadences of the snort call on YouTube go to https://youtu.be/14NucAEvZBc or you can check out our DVD Tactics for “Talking” to Deer. To encourage you to use a snort call, visit our website (www.deerdoctor.com) for more information about the snort call. Should you decide to purchase my Ultimate Snort Call, I will include a complimentary copy of our DVD Tactics for “Talking” to Deer (a $9.99 value). I make this offer because I genuinely feel that all deer hunters should understand and use a snort call to take their hunting skills to the next level, improve your deer sightings, and elevate your kill ratio.
Tired of your winter brassicas not performing up to expectations? A future blog will unveil the secrets of planting the easy to sow and grow winter-hardy grains (rye, oats, triticale, wheat, barley). They keep deer coming into your food plots from October through January.
Good luck this season,