As fun as it is to watch on TV hunting shows, mashing antlers together like thunder and playing a grunt call like a flute are not the best tactics for most hunters after a trophy buck.
The reason it works so well on TV is the hunters are usually on private land with well-managed deer herds, lower hunting pressure and better buck-to-doe ratios. In the real world, most of us don’t get to hunt those kinds of properties.
Calling – both rattling and grunting – can work, but it’s often better to arouse a buck’s curiosity than to play to his aggressive side. Start by gently tickling your antlers together, and make social, friendly sounding grunt calls. You can always get more aggressive if social calling doesn’t work.
Calling success can be greatly influenced by time of year, location and herd dynamics.
Hunters can and do take bucks while calling and hunting with an outfitter, but with bucks often circling to approach calls from downwind, it’s best to know the land and how a given stand sits in relation to deer travel routes.
If you’re new to calling, try working your magic on younger bucks that you can see. You’ll soon learn what they like and what sends them running the other direction. If you are calling just for the experience, keep an eye out for a bigger buck that might sneak in to investigate.
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