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Sounds for Success:
 Calling Strategies for Early Season Whitetails

By: Brodie Swisher

   There is something about the sights and sounds of September that stirs within the sportsmanís soul a passion to once again venture out into Godís country. The love song of the dove on a sunny afternoon, or a flock of blue-wing teal screaming across the gray skies of a dawning day; the sights and sounds of September are precious reminders of a coming season. For many area hunters these sights and sounds signal the arrival of whitetail time in the mid-south.

   Many mid-south hunters are preparing for the annual pilgrimage to the woods as late September welcomes the arrival of bowseason for area deer hunters. Hunters rely on various things to bring success their way. For some, it may be a lucky hat, for others itís a particular gun or bow that they have come to trust. Amidst all the gear and gadgets tucked away in the deer hunterís pack, there are several items that surpass all superstitions. There are tools that out-perform mere ďluck.Ē Most hunters have at least one. Some refer to it as their ďsecret weapon.Ē Grunt calls, rattling horns, bleating, or snort & wheeziní, whatever sound it may be, game calls are a vital element in the sounds for success.

   Many folks rely on game calls strictly during the rut, or possibly for a brief period prior to the peak breeding activity. Truth be known, there are a variety of deer vocalizations that hunters can employ. From the earliest days of bow season, to well into winter, game calls can often tip the odds in the hunterís favor.

   Without a doubt, one of the most effective calls for early season whitetails, is the fawn bleat. The fawn bleat plays on the maternal instincts of the does. Thus, ninety-five percent of the deer that respond to the call are likely to be does. However, many deer will respond to the fawn bleat simply out of curiosity. Bucks, does, fawns, and even an occasional coyote have been known to come on the run to the sound of a fawn in distress. In a recent study conducted by the author, does responded to the fawn in distress bleat in six out of eight calling stands. In all six of the eight responses, the deer responded to the call in less than thirty seconds. Four of the six does approached to within less than twenty yards. Chances are slim, that the fawn in distress bleat will fool a mature buck. However, for the hunter looking to harvest his or her first whitetail, or even the hunter looking to fill the freezer with a nice fat doe, the fawn distress bleat is possibly one of the most consistent sounds for success.

   There seems to be a myth that looms about hunting camps across the mid-south that deer grunt strictly during the rut. Although grunting does intensify as rutting activity heightens both bucks and does have been recorded grunting throughout the year. The grunt is a basic element of the whitetail vocabulary. The grunt is part of their everyday communication.

   By mid to late October, the mindset of bucks tends to shift from concentrating on filling their stomachs, to making time with the ladies (does). As rutting activity increases, the effectiveness of imitating rutting sounds also increases. These sounds include rattling, estrous bleats, tending grunts, and the snort & wheeze. As with other calls, rutting sounds attract many deer out of mere curiosity, however, these sounds are primarily intended to challenge a buckís dominance. The snort & wheeze used in conjunction with rattling and grunting may be just the ticket to bring a wary buck into bow range. The snort & wheeze is a sound few hunters have heard in the wild, but itís a sound a buck will make when trying to intimidate another buck. Everyone loves a fight. Deer are the same way. Hunters mocking the sounds of a scuffle may soon find themselves with a rutting buck, up close and personal.

   The sights and sounds of early deer season are quickly filling the mid-south countryside. There are few things as rewarding as communicating with Godís creation. The challenge of calling the elusive whitetail into bow range is often a bewildering experience, an experience that draws hunters to the field day after day. When preparing gear for another season of chasing whitetails, tip the odds in your favor, pack the tools needed for making the sounds for success.

   Brodie Swisher is the 2002 National Rifle Associationís Great American Hunterís Game Calling Challenge Champion. Contact Info: Brodie Swisher - (731) 593-1004, email -


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