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.
Today’s guest blog from our friend Danny Myers:
My daughter Lexi had reached the point that all of us have reached at some point in our hunting lives. It was several weeks into the season, and she still had not had a deer within bow range. On top of that the temperatures had been in the upper 80′s for the last week or so. She was frustrated and so was I. We decided to take a week off and according to the cameras, we didn’t miss anything.
Finally the temperatures broke, and it started to feel like fall again.
It took about a 10-minute lecture convincing her to go that night, but afterward, she was happy she did.
We were running late and didn’t settle into the tent blind until around 6:15. But we had some does coming in by 6:45, so must have sneaked in quietly enough. They kept looking behind them and I told her that something else was coming.
After a few minutes, a small 4-point followed the does in. I reminded Lexi of our conversation earlier, when I’d explained we weren’t trophy hunters, and that we know some families who would really appreciate the meat. She nodded and got ready for a shot. As the 4-point closed the distance, he paused at about 40 yards.
That’s when I saw another buck coming in from our left.
Then the fun began. For the next 15 minutes this deer stared straight at us, only breaking his glare when taking a step. I must have told Lexi “don’t move” at least 20 times. I have never seen a deer so focused on something and not have him run away.
The smaller 4-point did run off and came back two different times. I was certain that this buck was going to spook also. And then he did. He flinched and leaped to our right. But then he stopped. He turned around and slowly walked toward us!
It was the break we needed. I had previously ranged this spot at 23 yards. I whispered “top line” twice…Lexi listened, and made the perfect broadside shot. (Top line refers to the top line in the scope; we had practiced this on target at different ranges.)
We saw the buck go down within 60 yards.
Both of us were shaking and had tears in our eyes. I tried to tell Lexi that it was my allergies, but she knew better. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for convincing her not to give up. I can’t describe the pride I felt tonight. It exceeded any rush that I have ever had with any deer I killed myself. Unreal!—Danny from Maryland
When I saw this picture on my Twitter last week, I knew the buck would be one of the top non-typicals killed in 2017, and likely the biggest with a bow.
Mississippi Sportsman tells us: A St. Francisville dentist on Oct. 5 arrowed what could be the largest Louisiana non-typical deer to be killed with a bow — and he was hunting pretty much where he works.
“I killed the deer inside the city limits — behind my dentist office,” Dr. Frank Sullivan said of the 18-pointer that grossed between 220 and 230 points.
The monster has 3 drop tines, a third main beam, 11 points on the left and 7 points on the right side.
This giant should fire you up for your hunts this weekend!