Calling Deer: Beginners Guide

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When most hunters think about hunting, deer are what come to mind. However, there is a reason not so many people have deer trophies, which is because deer is among the toughest games to hunt. A successful deer hunt is its reward, and yet not many hunters can claim such a prize. It is why deer hunting tactics involve calling and luring deer to your stand so that you can get a shot. 

Calling is a common hunting tactic that works efficiently when fowl hunting. But when it comes to deer calls, most hunters are out of their depth as there are a few people who doubt its effectiveness. Usually, it is because they do not know how to use deer calls or are afraid it will scare away the prey and mess the hunt. 

This article will eliminate the guesswork into deer calling and give you reliable information and guidance for a successful deer hunt.

Understanding Deer Sounds and Vocalizations

Deer use different sounds to communicate messages under different circumstances. It is a survival instinct that helps keep them alive. But to the skilled hunter, it can also be an advantage to learn and interpret what each sound the deer makes means. 

Most deer walk the woods as if they are ghosts, and to the hunter finding deer is the most challenging part of hunting. The forest may seem to be filled with everything else except deer. Until you know what sounds deer make to establish where they are and how you can use those sounds to attract others.

Not all deer sounds are universal as they can be specific to a particular species. In this instance, your deer calling may repel deer away instead of luring them nearer to your hunting stand. If you want to imitate deer sounds correctly, you must identify with the following common deer vocalizations. 

Scared and Nervous Sounds

Deer have a herd mentality that has enabled their survival for many years. When they graze together, they look out for one another and give out signals and sounds when they sense imminent danger. 

Sniffs

Sniffs are typical deer sounds that they use to alert other deer when something is off. Sniffing is a deer’s way to catch the scent in the air and get a better smell of what they suspect might be looming danger. 

Sniffs also get other deer on edge, and soon the herd begins sniffing seeking out your scent.  Deer-sniffing gives out a similar sound to human-sniffing only louder because of the size of the deer’s nostrils. 

Stomps

Stomps accompany the sniffing when the danger seems to be in the air, but the deer can’t quite tell it. The deer starts by stomping their hooves lightly and will only increase the intensity when the danger persists. It will keep all other deer on high alert as the sound is noticeable on an otherwise quiet herd of feeding deer. The stomping sound will make other deer ascertain if there is a danger and give the signal to scamper away for safety. 

Snorts

When you hear a deer snort, then it is not long before you see the deer vanish from sight. It is a sound deer to communicate when they are sure of a threat. It could only mean that you have failed in stealth, camouflage, or your scent has given away your position. 

A snort can be a disheartening sound if you hear it from a distance as it means the deer will run, and so will the deer in the vicinity.

Angry and Distraught Sounds

Hunting during the rut is a hunters dream come true. The male deer can sometimes throw caution away when chasing the does. It means they will become noisy and easily give away their positions. 

When a buck is in the rut, it will make sounds to warn off other bucks and intimidate them by its presence. The sound of other bucks will also unnerve others leading to angry sounds that tend to warn and seduce them at the same time. For the hunter, these sounds are welcoming as they give away the position of the herd.

Buck Grunts 

All deer will make long and soft grunts when trying to call on one another. The buck deer will make loud and deep grunts to show its dominance and claim on the herd of does. Deep grunts are also a buck’s way of signaling other bucks of its territory. The does find this deep grunt attractive and usually as a call to mating. 

Buck Rattling/ Rattling Antlers

It is the sound of two bucks in battle and should not be confused with the deer’s vocalization. During a buck fight, the antlers lock and will make a rattling sound as they spar. As the rut begins, the bucks size up each other by light sparring, but when the deer reach estrus, the bucks will fight for dominance. 

Buck rattling is an attraction to other bucks and does as well as wanting to come and watch the fight for dominance. It is why imitating the antlers rattling sounds attracts deer to your location. 

The Snort-Wheeze

Just as the name suggests, it is a snort followed by a wheeze. It is an aggressive maneuver by bucks when they are about to engage in battle. It is supposed to intimidate the other bucks, but it is mostly between two dueling deer. 

Snort-wheezing may end a fight before it starts. A smaller or weaker buck will cringe at the noise and go running instead of engaging in a hapless confrontation. Fighting a superior adversary may lead to defeat or, worse, loss of antlers in an unmatched fight. 

Other Deer Vocalizations

Not all deer sounds are aggressive or out of fear. Sometimes does use different sounds to communicate among themselves and their fawns. Deer also make sounds to express happiness, boredom, or excitement. 

Doe Grunts

Deer are social animals that need to communicate with each other. Grunts of does are slightly sharper than those made by bucks. Like humans, the female deer have a smaller body and hence shorter airways. Deer use grunts when mingling or when calling their fawns to feed or to move to a new location. 

Doe Bleats

When does are gathered together, they bleat making sounds similar to that of goats, but higher pitched. The bleating sound is usually a vibrating sound that shows contentment within a herd. 

The Estrus Bleat/Doe in Heat Call

Does that go into heat will also make vocal sounds that alert the bucks of their readiness to mate. The bleats will seduce the bucks as it is often loud. It is the loudest bleats a deer will make when on heat. 

The estrus bleat is known to be higher than the buck’s grunts, which are more in-depth and meant to intimidate as opposed to attract.  

Sounds Fawns Make

Fawns are baby deer, and will also make different noises when communicating with their mothers. They react instinctively to the sounds of their fawns, which is why mimicking the sound of a fawn may lure a nursing deer.  

Nursing Whine

It is the whining sounds that come out of nursing fawns. It is usually soft and can hardly be heard at a distance. When fawns whine, they give a rising and falling pitch that fosters the bond between them and their mothers. 

Distress Calls for Fawns

Fawns make noises when in distress, and the sound is usually eerie enough to make a mother want to investigate the noise. Does can sometimes rush to a fawns distress call even when it has its fawn by its side. The shrilling noise is too much to ignore, even for humans. 

Distress calls can be louder depending on the danger, and lost fawns give out constant calls in search of the herd. When calling for deer during a hunt, fawn distress calls are sure to work when fawns are still young at the beginning of the season. However, it has the most success all year round as deer are inherent to caring for their fawns. 

Fawn Bleats

Fawns also socialize by bleating to communicate their excitement or happiness when playing together or with their mothers. Fawns have a higher pitch than their mothers because of their small bodies. 

Understanding When to Call for Deer

Calling deer is a tactic many people find competent while others feel like it cost them their hunted prize. However, the most calling deer can do for you is work or fail, but it is all about your hunter’s instincts. More often than not, expert hunters find that calling deer will work, but here is a reason why it may fail to work. 

When it’s Too Early in the season 

Deer calling early in the season rarely works as you might get the noises wrong. Usually, the success of deer calling comes when there is too much activity for the deer besides feeding. When the deer is almost getting ready to mate in the last stages of the season, you can use aggressive calling.  

Grunts can also work in the early season and is the most preferred way of calling as bucks are sizing up their opponents for the mating season. 

When the Buck Lives in That Area

There are better tactics to use than calling for a buck that lives in that area. It is riskier as it may frighten the deer from its comfort zone, where it is most likely to let its guard down. Stealth and scent elimination while holding a stand is a better tactic than calling in such instances. 

Knowing the Deer’s Personality

Deer, like humans, have different personalities. Some bucks are timid and will run when easily spooked while others will linger longer. Calling to a deer that is easily spooked may make it run instead of heeding the call and checking it out. 

The reason scouting is essential is to get acquainted with the bucks that live in that area. You must also train yourself to read a buck’s body language to decide whether to call or not. 

When the Deer Can Circle Downwind

When you call on mature bucks, they will circle downwind to get more of the air around them. If the terrain allows the deer to circle downwind, then calling it will do more harm than good for your hunt. There is a debate that hunters argue over wind direction. Some believe that the deer always walk with the wind on to their backs while others say deer walk crosswind. 

The best way is to observe the behavior of deer and the correlation to the wind direction. Mature bucks rarely move at daytime unless it’s during the rut. When bucks head towards their bed area, they face the wind smelling the air then turn on their backs. 

It’s a smart move as they do not have to worry about a predator smelling them from multiple directions. It is why hunting a mature buck is a challenging task. 

Hunting in Pressurized Areas

Calling on deer that are used to being hunted is most likely to fail because the deer become accustomed to the sounds. Deer that see many hunters are less likely to respond to calls, especially if previous hunters have tried the tactics and failed. 

How to Make Your Deer Calling a Success 

Always Be Ready After Making a Call 

If you believe in deer calling and make an effort to buy it and carry it to the woods, then you should also believe that using it will work. Therefore when you make the call, you should be ready for the buck or doe to show up anytime. Most people get caught off-guard because inexperience can make the impatient. 

If it is your first time trying out deer calling, you should first understand the deer’s language and use the appropriate call to get the best deer calling results. 

Making the Call When You See the Deer

Deer have long and pointed ears that can pick sound direction quite accurately. If a deer is coming towards you, then calling it may spook it and make it turn and run. If you call it and it pinpoints your location, your hunt is over. 

But if the deer is veering in another direction, making low grunts may call it back and is the right decision as probably you have nothing to lose at that moment. 

Learn Deer Language

Deer language is basic as deer cannot change their language. Before making a call, ensure that it is the right call. Knowing the right sound to make will trigger the right response. When it is during the rut using buck grunts can prove successful. When hunting does, you should consider using fawn bleats. Using the wrong sound may alert the deer to your presence and spook them to run away. 

It also helps if you do not overdo the calling more than the natural way deer communicate. If you pass out as too aggressive, you will get opposite results, and deer will flee the area. 

How to Set Up for the Call 

When you choose to call on deer, do so on a high deer population area. A distressed deer is less likely to turn up as it needs to see where the deer sound is coming from and confirm with a visual presence. 

When you call a deer, and it is looking into your direction, there are high chances it will spot you, and the hunt will be over.  If you are doing aggressive calling like mimicking the rattling sounds of antlers, choose a spot with a thick bush cover. It also helps if the wind is in your favor. Calling deer on the cover of a bushy area has high success with mature and smarter bucks. 

A Review of the Best Types of Deer Calls 

Primos Deer Call- Best Bleat Call

It works best when you are trying to get the deer’s attention during the mating season. Because of its high success rate, it has become popular for both advanced and rookie hunters alike. It works by mimicking the vocalizations that the  does make when they want to alert the bucks they are ready for mating. Therefore, it attracts bucks very quickly and has little waiting time between calls and response.

It is compact and lightweight, making it the best to carry over long distances. Also, it is specific to the bleat sound only and will not make other sounds and pitches. It makes it accurate to the actual bleating sound, and when used appropriately, it will give favorable results. 

The call comes with a rubberized grip for easy handling and to prevent it from slipping from your hands in wet conditions. 

Pros 

  • Accurate and consistent sound
  • Easy to use
  • Best for the rut and mating season
  • Bucks will respond to calls of on heat females much faster
  • Lightweight and has a comfortable grip
  • Will attract mule deer, whitetail deer, and blacktail deer. 

Cons 

  • Users find it to malfunction when it comes in contact with water. Always keep it dry. 

See more Product details here

Illusion Extinguisher Deer Call 

The illusion system brand aims to make any hunters experience simplified. It uses the black rack calling and the extinguisher to complete its deer calling system. Compared to other deer calling gadgets, it is slightly heavy and weighs at 1.7-pounds. 

The advantage, however, is that it is a combination of two deer calls, making it more diverse to use in the field. You can easily change the grunt sounds and adjust the volume as you desire. Users also love that you can make calls to mimic all deer species. 

The black rut, however, is not as loud as you might want it to sound, but at close range, it can be effective to lure bucks to your hunting area. 

Pros

  • Easy to adjust vocalizations and sounds
  • The sounds can attract all deer species
  • It is a combination of two deer calling sounds
  • It comes with a patented Modislide. 

Cons

  • The rattling sound system is a little challenging to carry. And gives out lower sounds than expected
  • At 1.7 pounds, it is one of the most cumbersome deer calling models.  

See product details here

Flextone Deer Call – Best Snort Wheeze Call

It has a variety of uses and can make accurate sounds to mimic buck grunts, doe grunts, fawn bleats, and Buck brawls. It is a versatile model as it uses the X glide button for sound adjustments, making you have different vocalizations for different situations. 

The unique tube design also allows you to make different sounds in different directions without having to turn. Most deer calling gadgets are defective when using cold weather, but this model will not freeze. 

The sound is adjustable to give both high and low pitches, which helps call at a distance. When the sound is off, you can adjust to get the perfect mimic voice of the deer’s species you are hunting. 

Pros 

  • It is an antifreeze call deer gadget
  • Has an excellent sound adjustment to vary pitch and sounds
  • It is the best snort wheeze function to mimic aggressive bucks
  • Comes with a rubber hose for tone variation 
  • It has a strap for easy transport. 

Cons

  • It can go off-pitch if you do not know how to use it. 

See product details here

Hunters Specialty Nemesis Deer Call 

It works by combining simplicity and technique to mimic most deer calls. It is a compact and fashionable electronic deer-calling device with a variety of sounds you can use to lure deer to your hunting area. The sounds include young, doe bleats, fawn bleats, and bucks grunting.

To switch from different call sounds, you should squeeze the mouthpiece and select the call you want to make. Various sounds are marked on the barrel, making it easy to pick the sound you want to make accurately.  

The design features a soft textured skin that keeps it safe and maintains the actual sounds that deer make. You can customize the sounds to be specific to a certain buck that you are hunting. 

Pros

  • It has a multiple sound choice
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Soft textured to make it easy to use and maintain. 
  • It has realistic and actual deer calling sounds. 

Cons

  • Calls may fail to work well in cold weather

See more details here

Buyers Guide to Deer Calling

Hunting using deer calls should be specific to the species of deer you are hunting. It is why you must understand the different sounds deer make and their language. 

Types of Deer Calls

Bleats

It is the common sounds that female deer and fawns make when communicating with each other. A mature doe bleat has a raised pitch than a fawn’s and does also bleat to attract mature bucks. You should know when to use bleats successfully.

Rattling sounds

It is the sound that simulates a buck fight. It is an aggressive sound that attracts other bucks to see the physical confrontation between dominant bucks. 

Deer Grunts

All deer are familiar with grunt calls, as it is what bucks use to identify where does are located. Grunts are useful to draw prey near your hunt area as it is common for most deer species.

Snort Wheeze Calls

It works best on mature bucks because it mimics the intimidating sounds of an aggressive buck. Snort wheeze should be your last option as it can scare timid deer and make them run from the dominant buck calls. However, snort wheeze calls are most likely to attract dominant bucks to the direction of the call.

The Deer Species and Breed

Different breeds have different sounds and vocalizations. You should scout the area you are hunting and use the appropriate deer calls for the deer in that area. You can have the all in one deer call sounds, or you can settle for one specific deer call based on the time of the season.  

Straps

The straps are designs that allow you to carry the deer calls gadget on your body and have easy access when you need it. Straps are also helpful in slippery conditions as it secures your call on your hands or body. 

Material

The material of your deer call will determine the ways you will maintain. Some are waterproof and can be used during winter, while others need to remain dry. The material used will also determine the longevity and durability of your deer call.  

Loudness

The louder the vocalization, the higher chances of success. You should look for deer calls that can be heard from a distance to lure in deer that are far away. Some designs have a fixed loudness, while others have adjustment knobs to increase or reduce the sounds. 

Electronic Deer Calls 

Digital deer calls have extra performance advantages. You can record deer sounds and play them later when hunting. Electronic deer calls are also effective in having a variety of different sounds and deer species calls. 

Size

You should consider the size as having a bulky model is not appropriate when covering long distances. You can select a brand that is compact and lightweight for a better hunting experience. 

Conclusion

Hunting deer using calls is one of the many ways both skilled and novice hunters can narrow the chances of success when going deer hunting. To make it a successful tactic, you should understand the deer language and when it is appropriate to use them while on the hunt.

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