John’s Note: Often deer hunters don’t consider rattling in the early season for deer. But some nationally-known hunters use a combination of rattling and grunting to bring deer to them in the early season.
The president of Primos Game Calls (www.primos.com) and the producer and star of the “Truth” series of deer hunting and turkey hunting videos, Will Primos of Flora, Mississippi, is known nationally for his deer-calling ability and has used deer calls to lure in bucks on many of his videos. “Remember, aggressive rattling and grunting will call in deer as soon as the bucks are in hard antler,” Primos explains. “The bigger bucks will come out of the velvet quicker than the smaller bucks. Perhaps they have higher hormone levels than younger bucks do. Hunters need to understand that any time the buck’s in hard antler, he is capable and ready to mate. All he needs is the signal from the doe to breed.
“One year on October 16, my video crew and I photographed two, large, 8-point bucks in a full-blown fight. I was bowhunting on the Mississippi River inside the levee system. An 8 point with 18 inches between his antlers walked within 20 yards of my stand. The deer would have been a nice trophy for any bowhunter. But I knew the land we were hunting held some bucks with antler spreads from 20 to 24 inches. Since this day was the first of the hunt, I chose to let this buck walk.
“The buck moved into a green field and fed with four smaller bucks and two does. After about 10 minutes, he looked back in the woods, bristled and walked stiff-legged in our direction. A second, larger 8 point entered the field at approximately the same place the first 8 point had. The two bucks locked antlers and fought as though their lives depended on the outcome of the battle. But most of the sounds coming from the fight were not antlers clashing but rather hooves stomping. The bucks often locked antlers but just for a minute or two – pushing and straining their necks like Sumo wrestlers attempting to throw one another. The bucks also blew short, quick bursts of air as they shoved each other back and forth, much like the sounds linemen on a football team would make when they blocked one another. This sound was something I’d never noticed before. Finally, the younger, smaller buck bested the bigger 8 point and ran him out of the field. When the victor reached the end of the field, he stopped his pursuit, snorted and blew at his vanquished foe.
“From this deer fight, I now know for sure that aggressive rattling and grunting should not be considered a tactic to be used only just prior to the rut, during the rut and in the post-rut. At any time the bucks are in hard antler, they will fight. Therefore, at any time during hunting season, aggressive rattling and grunting can pay buck dividends, even in the early season.”
When Primos rattles, he prefers to utilize synthetic antlers rather than real ones. According to Primos when hunters use real antlers to rattle, the real antlers have a tinny sound, since they’re not still attached to the deer’s head. “When live deer clash antlers, the sound is a deeper thud than when you clash antlers that aren’t attached to a deer’s head. I believe synthetic antlers produce a more-solid, realistic sound than real deer antlers do. I have had success with heavy, real deer antlers by holding these antlers tight in my hands. Then my body absorbs some of the sound produced when the antlers are clashed together, and they don’t sound so tinny. But I still prefer to use synthetic antlers.
“A full-blown buck battle like the one I witnessed in the early season that year usually begins with the deer clashing antlers, which results in a hard, loud crack when the two sets of antlers meet with heavy-weighted animals behind them. The purpose of the fight is for one buck to fling the other buck to the ground and drive an antler into his opponent’s side or rump. If the bucks can’t throw each other, then they’ll shove until one deer gets tired and gives up. The loud, exhaling burst of air you’ll hear the deer giving while they’re fighting can be made by opening your mouth and blowing out very quickly. If you’ll stand against a wall and attempt to push the wall down, after awhile you’ll begin to gasp for air. Then you’ll understand how to make this sound. If I’m in a tree rattling and grunting, I want to be close to limbs. Then I can rake the antlers through the limbs and leaves. When bucks fight, they push over limbs and small trees. I also grunt as I rattle and blow since I’ve observed deer grunting and blowing when they’re pushing back and forth against each other.
“Another technique of rattling I use, especially in the early season to call in numbers of bucks, is the sound young bucks make when they spar. These young bucks are not actually fighting and trying to hurt each other like older bucks do but instead put their heads down and barely touch antlers. To make this sound, I tap rattling antlers together lightly. Because this sound doesn’t simulate sparring, you don’t have to blow or grunt as hard or as loudly when you’re imitating young bucks. I use my grunt call and give light, soft grunts to imitate the sounds another buck will make as he watches two youngsters butt heads.
“Grunting, like rattling, will call deer at any time during hunting season because the grunting sound is the way deer communicate throughout the year. When I’m tickling the antlers to imitate the sound of young bucks, I give short, low grunts. If I’m trying to imitate a major buck fight, I make longer grunts and interject blowing sounds and heavy rattling in my sequence. In the early part of deer season, the young-buck sparring sound and light grunting will lure in deer as will aggressive antler rattling, grunting and blowing, since bucks fight even at the beginning of deer season. Rattling and grunting often will call deer the first morning of deer season you go up a tree or take a stand in a ground blind.”
To get John E. Phillips’ eBooks and print books on hunting deer, including his newest deer-hunting book, “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks,” available at http://amzn.to/2bYwYOK/, click on these books to learn more, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings.” Or, go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. You also can find John’s books on Nook at www.barnesandnoble.com.
For free information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.