Rattling, Grunting and Deer Lures - Make Them Work for You
Day 1: When Calling Deer Did Work for a Buck
"I can't take that shot," I told myself. The buck stood across the cornfield from me in a plum thicket. I watched his wide high antlers as he meandered down the hedgerow of the thick plum bushes. But I didn't see an opening or a promising shot. If the nice buck continued on this same course, he would vanish in less than a minute. Digging into my daypack, I located my grunt call. I knew I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying the call. When I grunted three times loudly, the buck halted his steady pace and threw his ears up. As I watched through my binoculars, I saw the buck's antlers with the sun dancing off them turn from his going-away position to his looking-at-me posture. With the grunt call still in my mouth, I continued to watch the buck.
Then I spotted the antlers turning away and grunted again. Quickly the antlers turned toward me. Then I could see the antlers moving parallel to the edge of the cut cornfield but still walking away from me. "If the buck comes to the edge of that field, I can get off a shot," I told myself. I lowered my binoculars and mounted my .243. As I peered through the riflescope, I watched the antlers above the plums as the buck moved to the end of the field about 125-yards away. Because I had a good rest on my tree stand, I felt confident I could make the shot if the buck came out at the corner of the field. But the buck didn't. Instead the buck walked to the center of the shoulder-high sedge and brush at the end of the field and stopped. I could see the buck's head as he looked out into the field and along the edge of the field where I sat perched among the high limbs of a water oak.
Then when the buck looked away, I grunted three times. The buck snapped his head back and continued his march, before disappearing on my side of the field. I grunted one more time, turning the hose on the end of my grunt call to cause the sound of the grunt to seem to come from behind my stand, instead of in front of me and toward the field. I turned slowly in the stand and readied for the shot. I expected the buck to come from my right, a good thing for me, since I would shoot left-handed. In only a few short minutes, I heard footsteps in the dry leaves slightly muffled by a soft breeze. My muscles tensed. I looked for a patch of brown, an ear twitch, the movement of an antler or a parallel line about 3-feet off the ground that might be a buck's back. After 2 minutes of dead silence, I cupped my hand over the end of the grunt tube to muffle and distort the direction of the sound and blew three short, soft grunts. I heard the buck walking again. Looking through the scope, I spotted him 60-yards away. His laid-back ears and bristled-up hair gave him the appearance of an alarmed porcupine. He walked stiff-legged with his ears back in a challenging posture.
I had a shot - not a good shot - but a head-on shot at him. "The deer is coming to you; don't rush the shot," I told myself. I still had my grunt call jammed in the corner of my mouth, while I watched the buck. A pine cone fell from a tree and landed not 10-feet from the animal, momentarily startling him and causing him to look away from where I sat motionless in the tree. I took advantage of this unforeseen distraction to grunt again softly, directing the sound to my right. When the buck heard the call, he began his stiff-legged march, angled to my right and offered me a broadside shot. As soon as the buck's head went behind a hickory tree, I made the final adjustment with my rifle and looked through the scope for the buck. Two heartbeats later, the buck stepped from behind the tree. At the report of my .243, the 9-point buck tumbled. I knew I wouldn't have bagged the buck without the grunt call on that day.
Tomorrow: Why Deer Calls Do Work