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Call Up A Rutting BuckMike Hanback
The first three weeks of the November rut are prime time to grunt up a whitetail buck—or two, or even three. The testosterone-addled studs are wandering wider and more in daylight now, scraping and rubbing and prowling on trails and ridges, trying to hook up with hot does.
Now, more than any other time during the deer season, mature bucks are poised to hear your calls, the sounds of other breeding "deer," and come zooming in.
Use this these tips to hit all the right notes and reel in a shooter.
- Blow a series of moderately loud grunts (10 to 15 seconds long) every 20 minutes or so when you’re on stand on a ridge or in a creek bottom. You never know when a buck will come trolling along, hear your calls and veer over for a look.
- Grunt from a stand tight to a pine thicket, overgrown field, cutover, etc. A gnarly 8-pointer tending a doe might not roll out of the cover and into plain sight, but your calls might make him get up and/or move a few steps so that you catch a glimpse of hide or antler. If you are hunting with a gun, that might be the break you need.
- Grunt at every buck you see slipping down a ridge or ducking into cover up to 125 yards away (a deer can hear your calls that far if the wind and terrain are right). Nine times out of 10 times he will stop and look, if just for an instant. Again if you’re gun hunting you might get a poke at him.
- When a buck continues on his merry way, grunt more and louder. What have you got to lose? It’s a long shot, but your third or fourth set of grunts might strike a chord and stop or turn him yet. I’ve had bucks respond to my fifth or sixth call volleys.
- When the peak rut is on, try loud, choppy tending buck grunts (urrpp, urrpp, urrpp) every 30 minutes or so. Five- to 10-second sequences are most realistic. A horny buck might come to what he thinks is a rival trailing or tending a hot doe.
- Give rutting deer two sounds to come to by mixing aggressive grunts with volleys of rattling. Or float some estrus-doe bleats on a can-type call, followed up with more tending grunts. One sound or the other might strike a chord and bring in a buck.
- I’ve heard big, burly 10-pointers with nasal calls and 6-pointers with grunts like market hogs. Don’t worry about the tone of your grunter. Just sound like a deer and a buck might come.
- Don’t over-grunt when you have a buck’s attention, and he is looking for you. He might see you move your hands or bow…or he won’t see another deer over there, causing him to hang up or back off into the brush. Instead, grunt just a few times and just loudly enough so he’ll hear you. Pique his curiosity to entice him.
- Don’t call even once when a buck is steady walking in. Let him walk and get your bow or gun ready, man! Grunt again only if he loses interest and veers off course.
One last thing to think about. One day I grunted at a 150-class giant that stopped, looked, and kept on moseying through the woods, like most bucks do. He topped a ridge and was gone before I could get off a shot. Bummer, and I dropped my guard. A half-hour later hooves crunched and a deer started blowing like mad 40 yards behind my stand. It was him! The buck had gotten curious of my calls, circled, snuck back in on the downwind and busted me. It happens more than you think. Keep your guard up and scan the woods, especially on the downwind side, because he might come yet.
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance website is designed to provide valuable articles about hunting, fishing and conservation for members of AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions and all sportsmen and sportswomen who appreciate hunting and fishing and want to preserve our outdoor heritage for future generations. If you would like your own story and experience from the outdoors to be considered for our website, please email us at USAmembers@unionsportsmen.org.