Bowhunting World October 2005

October 2005

25 Calling Tips by Bill Vaznis

The Right Call At The Right Time

There are two accessories I always take afield with me
these days.The first is a quality pair of binoculars. They
can help me see deer skulking in the shadows that would
otherwise go undetected. And the second is a deer call.
If I am careful, a single note can lure that buck into bow
range as if I possessed a magic flute – a buck I might add
that could easily walk out of my life forever. Do grunt
tubes work all the time? No, but most experts are pleased
if they can get one out of 10 bucks to respond favorably to
their renditions. Here are 25 tips to help insure that you will
be more than pleased on your next hunt.

1. Try starting the opening day off
with a bit of rattling. Not hard
and harsh, mind you, but soft and
easy. You want to imitate two bucks
sparring in order to test each other’s
strength and weaknesses. A rattle bag
seems to work best here. ]ust rub the bag
back and forth between your hands for
1O or 15 seconds at a time, and then
grab your bow. This low-level grinding
is sure to tweak the curiosity of any
passing buck.

2. One of the problems calling to
whitetails during the early season
is the response rate. Bucks are not
worked up enough to be attracted to
a knock down, drag-out buck fight, nor are
they likely to come-a-running to an estrous
doe bleat. They will, however, investigate
a contact grunt from a young buck or doe,
or the plaintive bleat of a fawn. The trick
here is to key in on food sources and then
setup an ambush in a nearby staging area
that offers plenty of cover.

3. Or, try calling right outside a
buck’s preferred bedding area late
in the morning or an hour or so
before darkness. This is risky business, but
if you are careful, it can work on your very
first attempt; What call should you use?
A couple of moderately toned contact
grunts could send that bedded buck into
a frenzy. Why? Your rendition might be
interpreted as a younger buck invading
his territory to look for does.



1. Yearling buck grunts, doe bleats,
doe-in-heat bleats, moderately
toned buck grunts, fawn bleats, buck
contact grunts, yearling buck tending
grunts and even fawn-in-distress bleats
are all proven deer calls. Indeed, each
fall knowledgeable hunters who know
how to imitate these basic vocalizations
in the wild tag thousands and thousands
of whitetail deer. It is the buck contact
grunt, doe~in-heat bleat and the series
of moderately toned tending buck grunts
that bag the most bucks however—
three easy calls to master.

2. Don’t be afraid to use your deer
call. Sure, improper calling can
spook a buck into the next
county, but more often than not you will
learn something about deer behavior
that can be used successfully later in
your career. You might, for example, learn
how quickly a buck will pinpoint your
exact location if you and your treestand
are not well·camouflaged.

3. When blind calling, start your
calling sequence with the volume
turned down low. A buck might
be standing nearby and come running
in to investigate. If your rendition
sounds more like a foghorn, however, a
nearby buck might vamoose without
you ever knowing he was close at hand.

4. Always have an arrow nocked and
ready to go before you start calling
to unseen deer. It only takes a
second for a buck to step into view and he
will be on high alert, leaving you precious
little time to prepare for a shot. One P&Y
Iowa buck, for example, came in so fast and
stopped so close to me I could not nock an
arrow without alerting him to my presence.
He escaped unscathed.?

5. Just because a buck doesn’t
respond immediately to your
calling does not mean he is not
going to come in for a look-see. He may
take 1O minutes, he might take an hour,
so don’t give up hope. Indeed, more than
one buck has been known to circle
around and show up on the downwind
side of a treestand long after the
bowhunter relaxed his guard.

6. Be sure to test the upper limits of
every grunt tube you plan on
taking into the woods with you
before you step afield. Some models lose
their tonal qualities when you blow hard,
causing a squeak that is sure to alert
any nearby deer. Don’t discard these
odd-sounding calls, however. Sometimes
a simple reed adjustment is all it takes to
bring the grunt tube back up to specs. If
that doesn’t help, save the parts. It is
amazing what authentic sounding deer
calls you can build when you mix and
match barrels, reeds and ribbed tubing!


1. If you should snap a twig while
still-hunting or walking to your
stand and jump a deer, try a confidence
call. I like to imitate the soft
mew of a fawn as they always seem to be
stumbling about, but avoid the use of a
fawn-in-distress call. I can’t imagine a
scenario where this would help you bag
a buck holding steady on red alert. A
single low doe bleat might also calm
down any nearby deer.

2. If you are hunting from ground
zero, and a buck hangs up just out
of range, try grunting, bleating,
mewing or rattling from a different location.
This is a killer maneuver if you can
pull it off without being seen. Raking
an antler up and down a tree trunk, or
pawing at the ground with a stick might
be all it takes then to get that buck to
finally commit himself to the setup.

3. Learn to double up on your calls.
For example, try a doe-in-heat
bleat followed by a short series
of tending buck grunts. This is a hot
combination during the pre-rut as well
as the peak of the rut. A lost fawn bleat
followed by a doe-in-heat bleat and
then a tending buck grunt can be the
ticket when the rut is in full swing.
Why? A nearby buck will “think” a hot
doe is about to be bred by a buck in
attendance. The “lost” fawn only adds
realism to the ruse as does routinely
abandon their fawns while being bred.

4. When doubling up on your vocalizations,
use a single-purpose call
and couple that with notes from
a variable grunt tube. It adds a bit of realism
to your calling strategy as it sounds like
two distinctly different deer.

1. You will know the rut has kicked
in when you see bucks lingering
around feeding areas preferred
by family groups of does and fawns well
after sunrise. They will be searching for
does by scent-checking the edges of openings
and by staring off into thick wooded
areas for several moments at a time. This
is a good time to give a roving buck what
he is expecting to find—a family group
of does and fawns. He will quickly zero
in on a couple of fawn bleats followed by
a doe bleat or two. Keep your eyes and
ears open, but don’t be afraid to blind call
every 15 minutes or so, either.

2. Bucks love to cruise the edges of
major waterways during the rut
in their seemingly never-ending
search for a doe in estrus. To narrow
your search and pinpoint an exact calling
location, look for inlets and bays that
funnel bucks close to the shoreline or
“around the horn” as they trot from one
side of the bay to the other.

3. You can set up a treestand on a
downwind edge of the bedding
area, or still-hunt in and around
the thick stuff. Either way, calling blindly
to bucks by using doe-in-heat bleats
followed by moderately toned tending
buck grunts will work. Stay alert and be
ready to shoot at all times because the
action can be fast and furious!

1. When a buck is in the company
of an estrous doe near the very
peak of her cycle, he will often
make a clicking noise just moments prior
to copulation. It sounds much like someone
dragging their thumbnail across the
teeth of a plastic comb, with each individual
click separate and distinct.

When the rut is in full swing, this
clicking will signify to a passing mature
buck that a hot doe is somewhere nearby,
and that mating is about to take place. Use
a moderately toned or high-pitched series
of clicking, and a sexually experienced trophy
buck just might believe that a younger and less-mature
buck is about to breed, and rush in to
take over the breeding rites. A buck
decoy with a small to medium rack
might just help you complete the ruse.

2. A snort-wheeze is made by a
buck exhaling air through his
nose in a very specific cadence.
Once you have heard it, you won’t forget
it. It occurs when two bucks of similar status
suddenly encounter each other
around a food source or a doe near estrus,
and serves as a warning to the intruder
buck to back off or there will be a fight.
A buck will also emit a loud snort-
wheeze when a hot doe refuses to stand
still long enough to allow breeding to
take place. The buck is undoubtedly
warning the doe to stand still—or else!
The snort-wheeze seems to work best
during the peak of the rut when mature
bucks are tending does. Your rendition
of a snort-wheeze, either alone or added
to a tending buck grunt or an estrous doe
bleat, may be all it takes to pull a mature
buck away from a hot doe. But be pre~
pared, however, as any nearby buck will
probably come in looking for a fight!

3. If you prefer to still-hunt, as I do,
and want to call a buck in closer for
a clean shot, try a few contact buck
grunts followed by your
version of a buck making a rub—complete
with swaying sapling. lt sounds
gimmicky, but it works for me at least
once a year!

Do not keep calling if the buck
does not respond in a timely
manner. He may simply not
want to come over for a look-see, so let
him go for another day. The last thing
you want to do is educate him on your
imitation grunts and bleats.

2. Do not call again if the he
appears to have heard your call
and is already working his way
toward you. Additional grunts or bleats
may only serve to confuse him or, worse
alert him to the fact that you are not
another deer.

3. Do not call if the buck is already
in bow range, or is looking at
you or for you just out of range
If he pegs you, the game is over. Instead
hold your ground, and let him make
the next move. lf he turns to walk away
hit him with another note. This is
another case where a decoy, buck or a
doe, can help as the buck’s attention will
be riveted on the decoy.


In most late-season hunts, “doe
tags” are still valid and, in fact
antlerless deer are often the
main quarry. Fawn bleats can stir a doe’s
curiosity to the point where she will
come in for a cautious look-see, whereas
a loud blast from a fawn-in-distress specialty
call can still bring a doe charging
in to rescue a stricken fawn.

2. Of course, if it is a buck you are
after, then you really have your
work out out for you! In most
cases as long as he has his rack, he is
willing and able to breed. Thus an estrous
doe bleat is always a good choice, with or
without an estrous doe decoy, positioned
facing the buck with her back legs askew.
With this setup it is imperative you
choose your treestand site carefully,
making sure you are high above the
ground and well concealed.
If your call freezes up during the
late season, you are calling too
much. Slow down, and call
more sparingly. A squeaking note now
will undoubtedly end your season.

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