Russell Hull Calls Deer,
You Can Too!
Archery World February 1987

By Russell Hull
On October 12, 1982, during the fall
deer season here in Kansas “yours
truly” had the experience of a lifetime.
On that calm beautiful fall evening I was
bowhunting with my daughter, Linda, who
was seven years old at the time. We were sitting
back-to-back in portable tree stands,
watching a freshly opened scrape that I had
found a couple of days before. Linda was be-
coming very fidgety and was needing to go to
the bathroom. I informed her that there was
no way she was going to go to the bathroom
around this scrape area. I gave her a piece of
sandy to help take her mind off the problem at
I slipped a piece of candy in my mouth,
under my face mask, when suddenly into the
grape walked a huge 12 point buck. After
waiting a few moments until the buck was in
line right position, I released my arrow and it
went completely through the deer’s heart and
stuck in the ground.
This was my daughter’s first time in a tree
sand and the unexpected had happened. I was
delighted and felt like I was living a dream and
at any moment I would wake up!
On that very same evening in another part
of Kansas another bowhunter by the name of
Mike Rose was also having a dream come
me. Mike shot a new state record whitetail
minutes after I shot my buck. His deer
ended up scoring 182 P&Y. (Mike later entered his buck in my “Cover Up” contest and
won lst place.)

I never miss a chance at asking a 10t of
questions when a hunter takes a really super
buck like Mike’s. I wanted to know just what

he had done to arrow a huge buck so early into
season. I was surprised when he mentioned
that he was hunting near some scrape sign and
was using a deer call. He felt that he had actually called the deer in.

I immediately became
skeptical, but very interested.
Before the next fall’s deer season rolled
around I purchased several different deer
calls and even made a couple of calls and began

experimenting. About ten years ago, I had
tried deer calling and after a few attempts had
given it up. I decided this time to give it a
better trial.
Deer calling is becoming very popular
with bowhunters because most bowhunters
are solitary hunters who are trying to kill a
deer on a one-to-one basis. Deer calling is
really nothing new as far as a hunting technique
is concerned, for it’s probably been
used for thousands of years. Early Indians
used the method with success to get close to
deer, and they were hunting at a time when
bringing home venison was essential.
As bowhunters, we have a tendency to
scout out an area, then set up our stands and
wait for something to happen. With the use of
deer calls and the right hunting techniques, I
believe you can make it happen. Don’t get me
wrong, deer calling is no different than the
success you might have at turkey calling, bugling
elk or antler rattling. It’s not going to
work 100 percent. But if you could improve
your success just 1/3 of the time wouldn’t it be
worth a try.

 
Deer are very alert and wary animals, but
they also have a natural curiosity about them
that makes them respond to a deer call. Recently
while hunting turkeys, I saw two deer
passing by. When I called on my turkey call,
they actually changed directions and came
right up to me at a distance of about 10 yards.
They walked over, smelled the decoy and
walked on up the trail. Just another example
of how a deer will respond to a natural sound
in the woods. They will almost always stop
and look towards the sound.


Deer calling won’t always bring a deer in,
but neither will it scare or spook them away if
done properly. Sometimes they are just not in
the mood. Other times they may be cautious
or bold and aggressive. I also find this to be
true bugling elk, calling turkeys or rattling
deer horns. Rattling deer horns is Mother
Nature’s deer call. However, as with any type
of rattling or calling game the most important
thing is the right set up. This is why still hunting,
scouting and choosing a stand location is
so critical. You can’t expect to just walk out
into the woods and start rattling and calling
and expect immediate results. Using a deer
call without applying proper hunting techniques
is certainly not a short cut to success.
You must do your scouting ahead of the season
and try to plan your calling locations near
fresh scrapes, rubs, food and bedding areas.
if you can get into your stand quietly and without
being detected near a bedding area, you
will sometimes call deer out of their beds before dark.
Another good place to set up for deer calling is on a deer run
between two large areas of timber. This works well before, during and
after the rut as the bucks will be traveling a lot
looking for does in estrus. This is also a good
time to use a doe in heat lure and combine
deer calling with antler rattling.
The best weather for calling deer is on
cold and windless days. When the wind is
very calm the sound of the call will travel farther
therefore increasing your chances.
Some hunters say they don’t need to carry
a commercial call because they can make the
sounds with just the human voice. I feel it is
probably better to use a man made call because
of the louder volume which is needed
sometimes. I also hate to start coughing when
a deer is near by.
Until I see deer I call about every 15 minutes.
Then I quit calling and watch the deer to
see if they will come close. If a deer is coming
toward you, keep quiet, but if his line of travel
is taking him away from you, start to call.
Control the volume of the call depending on
how far away the animal is. Try to call in a
rhythm pattern but not too often and not too
loud.
Deer seem to be able to almost pin point
the location of a person rattling or deer calling,
and for this reason it is better not to over
call or rattle, when deer are within 50 yards or
so. This is likely to arouse the deer’s suspicion.
It also seems to work better if the terrain
for calling isn’t too open. This causes the deer
to have to look for the source of the sound.


Types Of Calls
There are three types of deer calls being
made at the present time. Let’s briefly look at
the use of each one.
The bleat deer call is designed so that the
sound it makes will cause a deer to react to the
call out of sheer curiosity. It is the cry of a
fawn or doe in distress. Big bucks will often
respond to this sound as well as does. (Ask
Mike Rose who shot a state record.) The
bucks will sometimes be following the doe
when tl1e doe comes to the call. The bleat call
will work on mule deer as well as whitetails. I
was hunting with Jim Dougherty, Jr. , last fall
in Idaho when we called in several mule deer
one evening. The bleat call is probably best
used during the early part of deer season,
when they are just moving randomly about
and are not using any specific trails.
Bleat calls can also be used in early mule
deer seasons in the mountains. Let’s say you
are sitting high on a ridge with your spotting
scope and you locate a trophy buck. The buck
beds down and you try to get a landmark on
his location so you can begin your stalk. It
takes an hour to get to the location and when
you do you have trouble relocating the buck.
Things just look different than they did a half
a mile away. But wait, you’ve got an ace in the
hole in your pocket! You take out your bleat
deer call and blow softly while you are still
hidden in the brush. Invariably a deer will get
up to investigate the sound. If you are close
enough, when he gets up take your shot, if not
let him lie back down and relax then continue
your stalk. This time you know his exact location
and the position he ’s facing.

One of the newer calls is the snort deer
call. The snort that a whitetail makes when it
is nervous and unable to identify its intruder is
generally thought of as an alarm signal. This
sound can be imitated by a smart hunter when
he is entering a tree stand in the dark or stalking
a deer that isn’t quite sure what has disturbed him.

When the intruder snorts back at
the deer, it puts the deer at ease because he
then begins to think the sound he heard is an-
other deer. I used this, one morning last fall
when I was hunting around some fresh
scrapes. I was snorted at one time on my way
to the stand; I took out my snort call and blew
one time back at the deer. After a few minutes,

I proceeded on to the stand and within
about 20 minutes I passed up an eight pointer
at l0 yards. If I hadn’t snorted back at the deer
it would have kept snorting until every deer
had vacated the area. Later in the morning I
checked the tracks and it appeared to be a
huge buck working his scrapes just before
daylight. Sometimes, during the rut a snort
will bring a buck running for a light.
The other type of deer call that I use is a
grunt deer call that is designed to imitate the
sound a buck makes when he is trailing a doe
in estrus. This grunt is sometimes described
by hunters as a “burp” or “urp” sound. Quite
often several bucks will follow this sound because
they all are scent trailing the doe in
heat.


I personally like to combine the grunt call
with rattling deer horns. I feel it makes for
more realism while trying to imitate the
sounds of a buck fight. The best time for this
is just a few days before the main tut begins
and again right after the breeding season.
Once the big bucks are with the does in estrus
it’s hard to call them away from their girl
friends.
In November of 1985, I killed two P&Y
bucks while using deer calls and rattling. The
one from Kansas was an uneven 7 x 4 (139 6/8
P&Y). I shot this buck near some scrapes and
was surprised when he let me shoot him again
after the first arrow had found its mark. This
buck was really worked up as I’ve never had
this happen before.
Three weeks later in Nebraska, after their
rifle season, I took my first non-typical whitetail
at a distance of 15 yards while using deer
calls and rattling. The buck had 16 points and
went 154 P&Y. I felt very lucky to take this
deer because they had harvested 450 deer out
of this area the week before during rifle season.
A week later they had another rifle season.
Learning to use a deer call is really very
simple and only takes a little practice. But a
little practice can pay great dividends. Just
remember to call softly and not too often.
Deer calling to me is fascinating, fun and
another extra edge that you can give yourself
while bowhunting. >>—>

 

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