Mike Reed’s hunt is like attending a graduate school course called Deer Calling 101. The exchange between he and Jared as Mike calls to the buck is super valuable because you gain insight into their thought process when timing the calls.
The buck is not really all that interested in coming to the call. You can see he would much rather eat. But with some careful persistence, capped off with a snort-wheeze, Mike gets under the buck’s skin enough that the deer forgets about food, lays his ears back and heads toward the call.
Lesson 1: Timing is critical. At close range under 100 yards or when hunting open cover, it is ideal to call when a buck is looking away. They aren’t stupid. If they are looking your way and can pinpoint the source of a sound easily and see that there is no deer there, they will become wary.
You can call to them when they are looking your way at a longer distance, but not inside 100 yards.
Lesson 2: They would rather look than come your way if the cover is thin. When hunting an open field or in open cover, the bucks expect to see the source of the grunting. They will often just stand and stare in those situations. If you are hunting thick cover you can be more aggressive with the calling than you can in open cover.
Lesson 3: Sometimes you have to be more aggressive if subtle calling isn’t working. If you know a buck is hearing your grunts (he looks your way) and is not responding, you have little to lose in trying a snort wheeze. I don’t carry antlers, but I do always have a grunt call and am always ready to back that up with a snort-wheeze using my mouth.
It is worth practicing the snort-wheeze until you are good at it.
If a buck won’t respond to a grunt or snort-wheeze, it is very unlikely that he would respond to rattling either. It is just my personal preference, but I don’t carry antlers. Some people love rattling. I hate carrying antlers and the fake antlers don’t always sound good or produce enough volume to be useful.
I have written about calling already in this series, but it proves to be such a valuable part of our success formula that it worth perfecting. Part of the process of being a good deer caller is knowing when to be quite and when to call. Jared and Mike’s hunt is a classic example of how to make it work.