One October morning in South Dakota, I saw a 150-class buck duck into a ditch with a doe. I clicked my rattling horns four times. The big boy charged 10 yards out of the cover, stamped his foot and looked for the interlopers before he ducked back into the cover with his girl. I clicked them again, harder and louder. He bolted out and ran 40 yards closer, but he was still 50 yards out of bow range. While I didn’t get him, at least I had a chance and a fun close encounter. The point: You have nothing to lose by calling to any rutting buck you see; sometimes a few horn clacks or grunts are all it takes.
If you were a horny buck which sound would you run to? The clatter of antlers, a deep-throated buck grunt or the meeaaa, meeaaa of a hot doe. You won’t hear the estrus bleat very often if ever in the woods (I’ve heard it only a few times in all my years of hunting) but it’s worth a shot in the rut. The bleat is easiest to make on a can call; just turn it up and back down to fill the woods with sexy bleats that might bring a 10-pointer running. Stranger things have happened.
Let’s say one morning soon you hear loud, deep-pitched grunts resonating from a thicket or draw. Get ready! Chances are a buck has cornered a doe and he’s courting her with “gargling grunts” (biologists call them tending grunts). If the gal is not ready to stand and breed, she’ll bust out of there with the crazed boy hot on her heels. They might come past you if you’re lucky, or circle back into bow range. Stop the buck with a grunt—draw before you call—and shoot if you can.
Whether rattling or “blind grunting” (no buck in sight), set up against thick cover and with the sun at your back. You’ll be hidden in the shadows, and if a buck responds it will be easy to see when sunlight glints off his antlers or hide. Better yet, you’ll trick a buck into thinking deer are fighting, tending or breeding does in brush 50 to 100 yards behind you. That forces him to keep looking, listening and, most importantly, moving your way and into bow range.
I carry rattling antlers with me from beginning of deer season, here in Conn bow opens Sept 15 right to the last day Dec 31 Black Powder. Early season (Just out of velvet) bucks will need to establish their pecking order within the herd so don’t be afraid to bang those horns together. How many bucks have you shot prerut with chipped or broke tines?… I’ve shot quite a few…
Once the rut starts Halloween through peak rut bucks will be defending their territory from invading bucks out looking to take there does. This is another great time to slam those horns in hopes to draw that big dominant buck out of hiding….
As for the old “CAN BLEAT” you bet it’s in my bag. Like you guys stated I don’t know if I’ve really ever heard a doe bleat but I have had the Can Bleat work for me. In most cases I knew a buck was there when I did bleat and it brought him in or out of the brush just enough for a shot…
All great tactics to try. They won’t work all the time but it just might give you that little edge for a buck of a lifetime…
I’ve often said for years if I can take one call with me in the woods it would be my rattling antlers. I have had way more response with them than anything else. Even from early season with light sparing to full fight rattling during rut. The last few years however I’ve had some good luck with the can call. I’ve brought a few bucks right in with that call including the 8pt I shot last year. However these are 2.5 year old bucks so not sure the response I would get out of older ones. Still my go to is the antlers though. I think later next week by us (26th/27th) will be a good time to start cracking them together and see what they bring in. Good luck to all you fellow bloggers the next couple/few weeks!
BTW, I truly only carry the can with me to potentially call in a–you guessed it–hot doe that is being followed by Mr. Wonderful. Forgot to add that little tidbit.
You know, it’s funny what you said about the “bleat call”. Hanback quote: “You won’t hear the estrus bleat very often if ever in the woods (I’ve heard it only a few times in all my years of hunting)…” I think you are the first person that has openly stated that you’ve only heard it a few times over the many years you’ve hunted. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever heard that particular call either. Several years ago I realized the the can bleat calls that I use in my areas here in Indiana worked famously on calling in does; but it rarely brought any bucks (of any age class) into my range. I used to bleat at any buck, just to see if it would work (plus I like testing things out). I wonder, Mike, if it’s because the so-called “doe bleat” call is something that doesn’t necessarily even “exist”? I’m not saying that does don’t bleat during estrus; but perhaps we’ve over thought the whole thing? I mean, If there is a call that should bring a buck in slobbering, nose-dripping, tongue-a-hanging out…wouldn’t it be a bleat from a “hot” doe that is absolutely ready? Just a thought.