Build your confidence by calling lightly at first. In time, you’ll learn when to REALLY go at it!
I think a lot of new hunters are intimidated by the use of deer calls. Seems we get bombarded with advice from hunting shows and magazine articles to the point that we don't even know where to begin. It sure used to overwhelm me.
It wasn't until I got fed up with watching deer far out of bow or rifle range that I got motivated enough to pick up a few calls and start experimenting. After seeing deer respond with my own two eyes, I began to gain confidence.
Here’s what you do:
First, don’t let all the “grunt-snort-weeze-rattle-bleat” talk confuse you.
Start out by using light grunt calls to watch the deer’s reaction. More often than not, that’s all it takes to get their attention and bring them closer.
Deer are curious creatures. That weakness often gets them into trouble when they hear a call and have to investigate. Keep in mind the deer in Montana react to certain calls differently than deer might in Alabama. The ONLY way to discover what works and build confidence is to see it first hand. But keep it simple at first.
I highly recommend calling to does, even if there’s not a buck in sight. If you can persuade one or two nannies to come closer, your odds of also bringing the bucks into range increases dramatically — especially during the rut. The trick is to figure out which call attracts the girls so they’ll lay down a natural scent trail leading the big boys to you.
After you’ve seen what light grunting can do, pick up the rattling horns during the pre-rut and rut and just go at it. Rattling in white-tailed bucks is one of my very favorite things in all of hunting.
One of the first times I tried rattling was on a wooly old 8-pointer in Montana. We saw and filmed him at 400 yards the first day, and I tried to will that buck closer, but no dice. The next day, we spotted him working the river bottoms — again at four or five football fields away — looking for does. I’d had enough. This time, I’d brought a set of rattling antlers with me. I thrashed the antlers together for about 30 seconds and hoped the noise wouldn’t scare him away. To my surprise, the buck made a beeline toward me, pawed out a scrape and presented a much closer 120-yard shot! If I hadn’t tried, I would’ve never known how well rattling works.
After years of chasing Jackie Bushman and whitetails from Canada to Mexico with a video camera, I’ve learned to make friends with all these deer calls you see on the market. They actually work! And, if you’re willing to experiment, you’ll find out which tactics will work for you, too.
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