Which Deer Calls Should You Know And Use This November?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lifelong hunter or relative newcomer; you’ve almost definitely seen a few deer calls on the store shelves. Walk into any sporting goods store and you can find a wide assortment of deer hunting accessories and gear to fill your hunting backpack, all with the promise of making you a more effective hunter. While some of those claims are a little inflated, that’s just not true when it comes to calls for whitetails. And they’re especially useful when it comes to those magical few weeks before and during the rut. Why is that?
As the days start getting shorter in the fall, we (as humans) primarily notice it because it’s dark when we go to work and dark when we leave from work. But this photoperiod change also triggers whitetail bucks to enter what we call the rut. It causes a series of hormonal changes that first leads to shedding their velvet, followed by fighting and rubbing trees, and eventually, breeding does. During the weeks leading up to the peak rut (i.e., the pre-rut period), bucks are probably most receptive to deer calls. They’re on their hooves looking for does and challenging other bucks to territorial disputes throughout the night and even into the daylight hours. In their testosterone-fueled state, they’re often quick to respond to challenge calls or a lonely doe call, which gives you a definite advantage when hunting them. People may not realize it, but there are actually many kinds of whitetail deer sounds. Some are simply variations of the same basic category, but they are pretty vocal creatures.
5 Deer Calls You Need in Your Pack
Here are the five most important deer calls you can bring with you to the tree stand this November and the best situation to use them. For more information on the subject, also check out our deer calling guide!
Quality matters when it comes to game calls. If they’re not tuned properly or constructed well, you may end up just sounding like a dying goose instead of a buck. The Bone Collector deer calls are some of the best, most natural-sounding calls available. Here are the ones you need to stuff in your backpack.
Fawn Bleat Call
Fawns use the bleat when they are in danger, lost, hungry, or just want comfort from their mother. They will continue to use it as they grow up, though it gets lower pitched in tone and far less frequent. It sounds kind of like a cow calf, and is a drawn-out “bawling” noise.
Fawn bleats have a few uses in a hunting situation, though many hunters ignore it. They can be used throughout the season. A high-pitched fawn bleat will certainly attract does because it’s their maternal instinct to do so, even if they didn’t have a fawn that year. For that reason, fawn bleats are the best deer calls on the market for attracting does. Even if you’re after a mature buck, fawn bleats will sometimes attract bucks out of curiosity. But more often than not in the weeks around the rut, bucks are hot on the hooves of does. So if you can bring a doe in to check out your fawn bleat, you can also bring a buck in. The Bone Collector Fawn Bleat is simple to use; just adjust the amount of air blown into the tube to change the volume and tone of the call.
Doe Bleat Call
The next deer call we’ll discuss is one of the silliest sounding pieces of hunting equipment you’ll probably ever own. Most people don’t assume so, but does actually make a lot of noises, even including grunts. However, the bleat is unmistakable. It can be described as a kind of whiny noise, lasting a few seconds. Does use a bleat to communicate with other deer, and the tone changes slightly when they are in estrous. This estrous call is meant to signal a buck that she is ready to mate. When they make this noise, any buck that’s not already locked down with a doe will usually be pretty interested.
For the reasons above, an estrous deer call should be used in the pre-rut to peak rut period, when does are actually in estrous and bucks are very eager to chase them. They come in two primary styles, including a tubular form and a doe can call. The tube is much the same as a grunt tube, but it makes a very different noise. The can call is operated simply by tipping it over and waiting for the hilarious sound to come out. Doe bleat calls are great for attracting all kinds of bucks or even other does, which makes it a very handy call if you’re looking to fill the freezer with venison. Bone Collector’s Doe Bleat call is compact, yet produces very realistic estrous bleats that will bring a buck in on a string.
Buck Grunt Call
If you’re even a little familiar with deer calls and have used one, you’ve probably got a grunt call in your backpack. It is a basic requirement that should definitely be with you when you’re deer hunting, simply because it is so versatile and important. Bucks use grunts to communicate a few emotions, but many of them are challenge calls to other bucks or breeding calls to does. For example, they will use a drawn-out and low grunt to let other bucks know that they are more dominant and will fight. While chasing an estrous doe, a buck will use a series of tending grunts, which are short and staccato.
While deer grunt calls can be used throughout the season, they are best used during the pre-rut period. This is when bucks are readily chasing any receptive does and establishing their social dominance (and therefore eager to respond to challenge calls). If you’re hunting in an area with a balanced age structure, there should be a few mature bucks that will respond to grunting. They’ll usually show up looking to thrash a younger buck or start a rumble with a similar-sized deer for breeding rights. The Bone Collector Ol’ Faithful buck grunt call is expertly tuned to sound like a mature buck, and the adjustable flex tube allows you to manipulate the sound.
Snort Wheeze Call
While bucks use grunts to communicate intent to fight all the way to a general contact call, a snort wheeze can mean only one thing: “let’s get ready to rumble!” A snort wheeze is produced when a buck rapidly exhales air through his nostrils (similar to an alarm blow, but more drawn-out). It’s typically only made by mature bucks and is one of the most aggressive deer calls there are.
A snort wheeze is best done in the pre-rut to rut period when bucks are actively fighting over does. But a word of caution: this call should be reserved for areas that definitely have a few mature bucks around since it is such an aggressive call. If you blow it at a one and a half-year-old buck, he might just skip out of there as fast as he can to avoid getting his tail handed to him. The Bone Collector Challenger call is a grunt and snort wheeze combo that you can use to pull a dominant buck out of the woods. It allows you to make a variety of buck grunt noises, which are adjustable with the pliable rubber tube, but also add a snort wheeze for a cherry on top.
Rattle Deer Call
The snort wheeze is usually the last warning call made before things really escalate, which is where the rattle comes in. Bucks lightly spar throughout the early season, trying to find their place in the social hierarchy without risking a serious injury. Once the rut approaches, however, there is very little sparring left. If some posturing and a serious glare don’t scare the other buck off, it’s time for a real fight.
Using that to your advantage, you can imitate bucks fighting at different stages throughout the fall. Bucks and does alike are curious to see which buck will win the fight, so they will often sneak in to get a glimpse of the two brawlers. In the early season through the pre-rut, use light ticking noises and gentle crashes with a rattle bag to simulate two bucks lightly sparring. The Bone Collector Bag-O-Bone is perfect for this purpose. During the rut, start with some lighter rattling deer calls so you don’t spook any buck bedded closer than you think, but then turn it up. Use snort wheezes and grunts to accompany your rattling, which will make it more realistic. If you have mature bucks in the area, really make some noise with whatever rattling system you prefer.
Deer Calling Strategies
Now that we’ve talked about five common deer calls you should use this season, let’s look at how you can piece them together into a good hunting strategy. The general rule with calling deer is to not overdo it. While deer are more vocal than most people think, they’re not constantly grunting and bleating everywhere they go. Most hunters tend to err on the side of calling too much, which can raise a red flag for deer in the area. At most, using a short sequence of fawn/doe bleats or buck grunts every half hour is about the upper limit of calling frequency. If you call more often than that, you could deter them. You’ll also want to start your calls and rattling softer than you end with. You never know if a deer has slipped up behind you and bedded down. If you were to start puffing into your call looking like a trumpet player, you’d probably give them a good scare and spook them out of the area.
Before you call, take a moment to scan the area around you with your Bushnell binoculars. For the reasons above, you’ll want to make sure there are no deer in the area. If there are, keep your eyes on them and start calling softly and sparingly to watch their reaction. If a buck doesn’t respond to a grunt, you can try a snort wheeze and see what happens. If you don’t see any deer around you, start calling softly on your deer calls and work your way up in volume. Call for about 30 seconds before giving it a rest. Keep an eye on the downwind side of your tree stand because deer will usually try to sneak in and scent check the area for confirmation. To give them no excuse to stop approaching, use Code Blue deer scents on each side of your stand and really focus on reducing your movement. If you keep an eye on the downwind side, you never know what might try to slip past you.
If you’re looking to keep things simple, the Bone Collector Contender call is an all-in-one call, which saves space in your backpack. It can make multiple sounds from fawns, does, or bucks simply by adjusting the placement of the O-ring. Simply carrying this one along with a rattle bag is all you’d need to make most of the calls we mentioned above. If you can do that and follow the tips above, you’ll be set for any hunting season.