Deer hunters love gear. And regardless of how successful they may or may not be each season, most deer hunters will likely have an impressive collection of hunting gear stuffed down in their pack. The amount of gear will vary throughout the season as hunters sort out the essentials from the extras. Is it useful and beneficial, or simply taking up space?
Somewhere amidst all the deer gear found in the pack, you’ll likely find a deer call or two. Every hunter has at least one deer grunt call, right? Grunt calls are standard equipment for the deer hunter, but there’s also a few other calls that have proven themselves as deadly tools of the trade in the deer woods.
Let’s take a closer look at the 5 deer calls every hunter should have.
Essential Deer Calls:
The Grunt Call
As a young deer hunter, I didn’t feel official until I had a grunt call hanging around my neck while sitting in the stand. I still have my first grunt call, an old wooden grunter that hangs on the wall as a reminder of sweet memories in the deer woods. But I’ve also added plenty of other grunt calls to the mix over the years. Some sound very realistic, while others simply get the job done in a pinch. The bottom line, they all make the pig-like grunt of a buck deer.
Some hunters only put their grunt call to work during the rut. However, deer grunt all year long. Yes, this grunting intensifies during the rut, but grunting can be heard throughout the year. Grunts are the basic vocalization of the whitetail deer. Never leave home without a grunt call.
One of the most exciting sounds you can mimic in the deer woods is a fight. Think about it. Who doesn’t love a fight? Back in the day, when someone at school shouted, “Fight!” everybody came running. We all love to watch a fight. And that’s exactly why rattling antlers are so effective to pull a buck within bow range. He’s curious. He wants to see what’s going down and who’s involved.
Rattling obviously works better in some parts of the country than others, depending on buck to doe ratios, deer numbers, and landscape. However, bucks will respond to the sound of a fight. Whether it’s real antlers, a rattle bag, or some other type of call designed to mimic a fight, be sure you have rattling in your bag of tricks during the weeks in and around the rut.
The Can Call
If you’ve hunted deer long enough, you’ve likely heard bucks grunt, and you’ve probably witnessed a fight or two over the years. But chances are, you’ve never heard the sound emitted from a can-style call. The Primos crew made the call popular years ago with what they call, The Can. It’s made to produce the estrous bleats of a doe that’s ready for a buck. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard this sound made by a deer. What I do know is the call works. I’ve watched bucks of all sizes respond to the can call and march in for the shot. It’s not a loud call, so you’ll often have to stop the buck with another sound to get him still and listening. Tip the can over to produce the bleat. You’ll know it works the moment he locks in on the sound. It’s a great call to pull a rutty buck in close for the shot.
A Snort Wheeze
The snort-wheeze is another call that few hunters have actually heard a live deer make. I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve heard a buck make the snort-wheeze sound. At one time, it was thought to be a dominant buck sound, only the boss buck in the area would make.
However, I’ve witnessed several occasions when a young (1 ½ year old) buck made the sound as well. In fact, over the last month, I’ve watched a little fork-horned buck snort-wheeze on 3 different occasions as he’s chased does around the farm. Maybe he’s taken over as the boss, or maybe he’s just mimicking the aggressive calling tactic he’s learned from the big boys. Regardless, he likes to snort-wheeze.
You can make this sound with your mouth, or use the hollow tube that many call manufacturers now include on their grunt calls to help produce the fftt-fftt…fffffff sound of this call.
If you’re looking for a secret weapon in your calling, look no further than a handful of plastics bags from your local Walmart or grocery store. The good ol’ boys around town like to call them, Walmart sacks. Regardless of what you call them, they work great to produce the sound of a critter moving in the leaves. With a few bags balled up in each hand, you can easily produce the sounds of deer walking, running, fighting, feeding, or making a scrape. They pack light in a pocket and won’t make any noise until you’re ready to use them.
The concept was recently taken to production with the launch of the Tree Thrasher, a call designed to mimic the sound of a buck working a scrape or rub. Yes, it may seem to be as gimmicky as the “Acorn Crusher” call that made a brief appearance years ago. But the sounds it produces will work on deer – almost as well as a handful of Walmart sacks.
Don’t get caught without the calls you need to bring a buck within range this season. Make sure you have the calls mentioned above close by when the opportunity arises.