Year-Round Deer Calling Secrets of the Masters
Deer Calling’s Not Magic with David Hale
Editor’s Note: If you want to learn any sport or any technique in any sport, you seek out the professionals who make their living in that sport. The men who create outdoor TV shows, videos and game calls must have the ability to produce those calls on cue on film. Why can they call deer, and you can't? What do they do that you don't? Here are their secrets. David Hale, the co-founder with Harold Knight of Knight & Hale Game Calls and Commonwealth Productions, in Cadiz, Kentucky, has hunted deer with a bow for more than 40 years. He's taken deer on TV and in videos for many years.
"Deer calling is not a magic potion," Hale says. "A deer call won'tmake a deer appear without your scouting, plenty of hunting and using your woodsman skills to find the spot where a buck should be. I believe deer calling is like icing on the cake. You've got to have the cake first, and then you can put on the icing.
"There are some major misconceptions about deer hunting: in bow season, the bowhunter needs to be hunting open spaces before gun season opens. But the bowhunter thinks, 'I need to hunt in a thicket because I'm not going to shoot at distances more than 30 yards.' Now I agree that the bowhunter won't shoot more than 30 yards, however, during bow season, before gun season, your chances of calling a buck are much greater than they are during gun season. So bowhunters should hunt near fields and open woods where they can see deer and then try and call bucks to them. Remember, most bowhunters will be in thickets. So the least amount of hunting pressure on the bucks will be in open places during bow-hunting season.
"To hunt open areas as a bowhunter, find a tree that gives you plenty of cover and has a thicket close to it where the deer can't see behind you. I like a cedar tree or a pine tree for a tree-stand site in the early season. When you see a buck, call him. However, instead of hunting him, make him hunt you. When most hunters gun hunt, they go to areas where they can see a long ways and hopefully can call at great distances. However, calling is a very subtle technique. During gun season, a lot of hunting pressure is in all the open places. But I'velearned that calling is most effective for the gun hunter when he's hunting in thick places with very little visibility. The bucks have to be in thick cover to survive.
"I believe one of the most-productive times to use deer calls is during the early bow season when the bucks haven't experienced much pressure, and you can see them for a long way off to call them to you. Also, when you're using deer calls, call from a place where deer can smell the least amount of odor. You have to remember that when you're calling deer, the deer wants to check out with his nose what he's hearing with his ears.
"Too, calling deer is most effective when you're higher up in a tree. I stay off the deer trails and get as high as I can when I want to call early-season bucks in to my bow. When calling in the early season, you're trying to get a deer to come in and be social, not sexual. The deer's body language after he hears the call will tell you if he's going to come into the calling, how much calling you need to do, and how and where he will come. Once the deer is moving toward you, you don't really need to call much more. When and if he stops, you may need to call to him to keep him moving. I use the Knight & Hale grunt and bleat calls. I believe in these calls because I've created them, and I know they work because I've seen them work for myself and others."
Tomorrow: The Truth About Calling with Will Primos