How to Call Deer: Tips, Rattles, Grunts, Techniques

How to Call Deer

What hunter wouldn’t want to be able to communicate with a trophy buck or mature doe? With a little bit of practice and study you’ll be able to pick up their vocabulary and join in.

Game calling is like an art, it might come natural to some, but most of us will require a lot of practice. To help you become a master of animal talk I’ve come up with a few tips to help you call in those monster bucks.

Calling Deer

When you stop to think about it, it’s really amazing that man and deer have lived together for thousands of years, yet we still know very little about them.

Even though our ancestors relied on them for meat they never took the time to figure out what all those subtle sounds actually mean. If we could learn to speak and understand their languages, even in a limited way, we would all become better hunters.

Game calling is one of the most underused tools available to hunters. We all know that we should call in deer, but we seldom take the time to practice the art. It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer, hunter or general outdoorsmen we could all use a class on basic deer calls.

Learning How to Call Deer

The average person has heard deer calls all their life, but these sounds mean nothing to most of us. Since these sounds have no real meaning to us we’ve learned to ignore them.

However, if you want to actually learn to call game you need to open up your sensitivity to nature. Game callers should make a point to pay attention to the sounds around you.

Don’t just learn the different forms try to pay attention to what they all mean. Modern science has made major strides in understanding what calls actually mean.

When I was a child we couldn’t just go on youtube and listen to different calls. With so much information at your fingertips there’s no excuse not to learn a few basic calls. Before getting into advanced tactics check out the video below for some of the basics.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Hunting Seasons

One of the major advantages to game calling is that you don’t have to just limit yourself to the hunting season. Any excuse to get out into the woods is a good one.

Get out during the off-season and practice calling in deer. Without having to worry about hunters you’ll have more success calling them in. There aren’t going to be all those restrictions about where game can be called and you can try out new techniques without worrying about missing a shot.

You can even practice your calls in most nature preserves. Most regulations only state that you can’t disturb the animals and calling certainly isn’t a disturbance. While you might not be able to hunt during the off-season, you can sure get in a lot of practice.

Deer Calling Basics

Before going out into the field to actually call deer you should try to learn as much as you can about technique. The easiest way to learn basic calls is to ask experienced hunters.

Walk into your local hunting shop and ask the old man behind the counter for help. Most hunters are happy to help out new hunters and love talking about the sport.

If you aren’t comfortable asking for help there are plenty of youtube videos that teach the basic calls. Check out the video below where they teach you how to use one of my favorite budget calls.(check out my favorite call on Amazon) There might be better calls on the market, but Illusions Extinguisher calls is hard to beat for the price.

Practice Calling in Camoflauge

Unless you’re out practicing during the actual hunting season where there are regulations you’re going to want to dress in camo. Practice the way you hunt and try to completely eliminate your scent.

You don’t have to go all out like you would during the actual hunting season, but you should at least blend into the surroundings. How would you know that your calls actually work if you scare off deer from a mile away.

Remember that calls are meant to attract game and he’s going to be looking for the source of the sound. Without camo he’s going to see you before you ever see him.

Figure Out The Deers Habits

Understanding a deers habits are going to give you a major advantage during the hunting season. Make sure you take note of where you see signs of deer activity. Deer are creatures of habit and they’ll likely return later.

If there’s any doubt in your mind about the area you’re going to call head out a few days early and look for signs of activity. A little bit of scouting goes a long way. You don’t want to waste your time calling in game where there is none.

Setting Up Your Calling Stand

Most hunters will want to move from one area to the next testing out different stands. The way you approach these stands is extremely important.

Even during the off-season you’ll want to approach your stand as quietly as possible. News travels fast in the forest, once you’ve been seen your day is done. Bucks already in the area will leave, and others will stay away.

Once you’re up in the stand make sure everything is in close reach. Minimize movement when grabbing your call, gun or camera. Make sure you’re comfortable so you can stay perfectly still.

Minimize Your Exposure

It should go without saying that you should never setup in places where you’re going to get a lot of exposure. Never setup in the crest of ridges or bare open fields. If possible you should setup near natural funnels.

Setup near a line of cover, steep hillside, creeks and natural choke points. Providing an easy route with natural cover is going to give them more confidence on their approach.

Keep Constant Watch

To become a better hunter you need to keep constant watch, both your eyes and ears should always be open. Try to avoid smoking and making unnecessary noise when calling in deer. Save your conversation for later because it will make you much less effective.

Even if you don’t see deer in the distance act as if they’re nearby. You’d be surprised how close they can be without you ever noticing. They might only stick their head out after you call.

How to Call Deer

In general deer like to keep to themselves and they’re normally quite secretive animals. Most hunters are surprised at just how susceptible they are to calling.

Both Mule deer and whitetail will respond well to calling. That being said, throughout the years they’ve started to grow a little wary as more hunters start to rely on calls.

Different Types of Deer Calls

In the old days all hunters really used were antler rattles and grunt calls, but nowadays there are a few more options. Most of the time deer are called in five different ways. You either use a rattle, fawn/doe bleat, snort/wheeze or grunt call.

  • Rattling Antlers: When rattling up a buck you try to make a sound like two bucks are fighting. Personally I would look for sheds during the off-season rather than using artificial rattles. Artificial Rattles(this is my favorite) will work if you don’t have real antlers, but they aren’t perfect. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what artificial antlers you buy they all sound the same.
  • Fawn and Doe Bleat Call(Predator Call): Fawns use the bleat call when they are in danger. There could be predators or they could just be lost or hungry. As they mature the bleat starts to sound lower pitched. A high pitched fawn bleat will attract does whereas a lower pitched doe bleat attracts both bucks and does. Bleat calls are cheap and this 3 pack Primos set is all you really need.
  • Snort Wheeze Call: A snort/wheeze call is only used for one thing. That’s to draw out big mature bucks ready to fight. It’s an extremely aggressive call and it should only be used when you know there are big mature bucks in the area. The Primos Buck Roar/Call is going to be your best bet. It might scare away juvenile bucks and does, but it will bring in those real mature trophies.
  • Buck Grunt: Just about every hunter starts out using a buck grunt call. This is going to be your bread and butter during the pre-rut. They can be used all year round and mimic a wide variety of emotions. I’ve tried a lot of buck grunt calls throughout the years, but I keep going back to the Illusion Extinguisher call.

Using a Deer Rattle

Deer rattles are one of the easiest calls to master and should be used by every hunter. When rattling up a buck you’re trying to make the sound of two deers fighting.

Hunters always seem to go crazy when using rattles for the first time. Start off with subtle rattles and work your way up with a little more aggression. A little bit seems to go a long way.

It’s not really clear what draws a deer to rattles. Maybe it’s just curiosity or they could be going after unattended does, but whatever it is, rattling works.

Using Deer Predator Calls

Predator calls can be used any time of the year, but they take serious practice to master. Use a low pitched predator call to imitate the low pitched bleet of a fawn or doe that’s in trouble.

This low quivering note is easily produced on most calls, but it’s hard to figure out when it needs to be used. Remember that you’re trying to make a sound almost like the baaa of a sheep. Just quieter with a lot more panic and fright.

Call two or three times and give yourself a minute pause. Repeat the process and wait for bucks/does to respond to the call. Most of the time does will respond to the call, but they could run in fear.

It’s their natural instinct to protect a fawn/doe so they should come to this type of call. Check out the video below for more info on predator calls.

It’s Easy to Scare off Deer

As a general rule most of the time deer will approach a predator call. However, deer will also respond to the call by running away. Most people think deer run when they’ve already smelled/seen the hunter.

They already know the source of the sound and aren’t going to be fooled. That’s why you need to get within calling range without being seen.

Don’t Over Call

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is overcalling on slow mornings. Too much calling and producing long unnatural calls will quickly frighten deer.

Pressured Deer are Always Harder to Call

Calling gets much more difficult when hunting pressured land. When hunting public land you’ll need to change up your approach to lure out skittish bucks.

With so many hunters wandering around there’s going to be fewer deer making them much harder to call. Not only will you have a smaller herd to call in, they’ll be much more cautious.

Reduce the aggressiveness of your calls to bring in nervous deer. A little bit goes a long way on public land.

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