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Gear Guide: Deer calls that work

The rut is on! Gone are the bachelor groups of passive bucks and does with extended families. Deer behavior bursts alive with vocalizations — bucks grunting, roaring and wheezing, does bleating to bucks and fawns bleating for mother does that chased them away preparing to breed. Antlers crash and dominance is tested, the earth is pawed bare and saplings are stripped of bark by massive, bulking neck muscles in a mating ritual repeated time and again. Watching these deer behaviors is exciting, yet the real thrill lies in interaction, controlling deer behavior, outfoxing that savvy buck to make him hunt you. When a mature buck marches toward you, legs stiff and hair standing on end, the harvest of this trophy takes on special meaning regardless of antler size. Fortunately, with today’s great calls, luring a buck into bow or rifle range is easier than ever and many manufacturers offer videos on their website demonstrating their calls so you will know exactly what to do and when.

Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill brand deer calls have been handmade in Downsville, LA, for more than 20 years, and the company’s CH70 Head Hunter Deer Grunt Call closely imitates the sounds of whitetails during the rut. The calls are available at Wal-Mart stores in the South, and customers receive similar pricing online. Owner Jerry Antley includes instructions on how to blow the call as well as strategies for success. “Both bucks and does make similar sounds after being separated from each other,” he says. “The separated call is very short while the rutting grunt is a little longer and more drawn out. Call sparingly,” Antley advises, “since they are trying to smell even more now and are looking for any movement. When your game is not visible, give three or four short grunts in a minute span then wait five to 10 minutes to give them time to approach. The Headhunter has been proven most effective for calling bucks that are in sight but out of range.” www.cedarhill-gamecalls.com

E.L.K., Inc.

The Cow Talk elk call has been a staple of Western elk hunting for decades, and the Deer Talk call is similar in shape and ease of use. It works on whitetails and all species of deer and will produce many of the sounds that deer make throughout the year. It’s easy to use and quiet, and it fits in your shirt pocket for easy transport. E.L.K also produces a deer-calling CD that includes real deer sounds so you can learn to replicate them and call deer any time of year in a variety of situations. www.elkinc.com

Hunter Specialties

The True Talker has been popular in deer-calling circles for decades, and the new True Talker Legacy improves on the features found in the original to provide the next generation in deer-calling technology. It easily produces all the sounds in a whitetail deer’s vocabulary, from mature buck grunts to young fawn bleats, by simply putting pressure on the flexible fingering membrane. Hunters can control pitch, tone and duration as well as intensity, cadence and inflection while using the call. Raised marks help users know where to hold the call to reproduce different sounds. The call has a hardwood balanced reed system that will not freeze up in cold weather and can be easily disassembled for cleaning and adjustment. The protective rubber coating provides a comfortable mouthpiece and deadens noise. It has an adjustable lanyard, allowing hunters to hang it around their neck or cinch it to their arm for hands-free operation. www.hunterspec.com


Flambeau (MAD)

MAD’s new patent-pending Hyper Growl contains a “Hyper Ventilator Tube” that simulates a deer’s nasal passage or nostrils and creates realistic deer sounds with a reed system that will handle as much air flow as you can give it. The integrated system even allows a hunter to place his hand over the end of the main air flow to create perfect snort-wheezes through the Hyper Ventilator Tube. By studying the anatomy of whitetail deer, MAD engineers incorporated the nasal/vocal equivalency of the deer into this call to create deep guttural grunts and growls. Not only are Grunt and Snort Wheeze components connected externally, but also either or both passages of the Hyper Growl’s Hyper Ventilator Tube (nasal cavity) can be plugged with the caller’s hand to add tone inflections by altering the air flow, producing growls and/or snort-wheeze sounds in seconds. The call can also be operated without any manipulation for extra volume on windy, blustery days. Despite all this technology, this call still produces the old reliable tending grunts and pops so popular in MAD deer calls. www.flambeauoutdoors.co

Flextone

Flextone calls are some of the easiest to use and carry since they are made from flexible tubing that mimics the soft, flexible tissue of an animal’s neck and tongue. The Last Resort is the perfect call to use when all other calls have failed. Blow softly to create bleats when calling at close range to bucks or does and harder for long-range calling to create comeback estrus cries when hunting open fields or when the monster buck has ignored previous calls. The Last Resort has extremely loud doe bleats that will get the buck’s attention, and it fits easily into any pocket. www.flextonegamecalls.com

Knight & Hale

The EZ Grunter Xtreme is a versatile, all-season call that reproduces most common deer grunts, but goes one step further. The EZ Grunter Xtreme features the patented HyperVentilator inhale/exhale operation style that produces the realistic hyperventilating sounds of big bucks chasing and tending does, one of the most effective calls during the rut and pre-rut. The Threadlock barrel design threads into the shortened end piece for ease of disassembly. The wedge, reed and sound board are also changed, so the reed “locks” into place. This allows the call to be reassembled just as it came from the factory — every time. For a video demonstration of this call go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqpn5PLzYBs . www.knightandhale.com

Maestro

The Paul Butski Signature Series model, the Huntin’ and Gruntin’ Deer Call, offers versatility in being able to change the tone of the call with just a slight adjustment. Additionally, you can produce those productive hyperventilating tending grunts by inhaling and exhaling from either end of the call. Sometimes all you need is a single grunt to bring that buck sneaking in to take a doe away from a less dominant rival, and Huntin’ and Gruntin’ can get it done. www.maestrogamecalls.com

Primos

If you want to challenge the biggest, most dominant buck in your area, the Magnum Roar by Primos is your call. You need volume to reach out and get a response from dominant bucks, and the Magnum Roar is one of the loudest, most accurate-sounding buck roar calls you’ll find. It features a tube that expands from 3½ to 6 inches for a variety of roar and grunt volumes. Its freeze-resistant reed system is ideal for late seasons or hunting the rut in the Northern Tier, and the call also straps to your arm and doubles as a grunt and challenge wheeze caller. Will Primos took the biggest buck he’s ever taken in his home state with the call that can be viewed on the Primos website. www.primos.com

Quaker Boy

“I used this call for the last two seasons and must say that it is incredible!” said Ernie Calandrelli, director of public relations and noted call expert, speaking about the Deer THUGS Trigger Style Snort Wheeze caller. “The problem with snort-wheeze calls is getting volume out of them, but there’s no problem here. I have had bucks come from a couple hundred yards in a hurry after hearing the snort-wheeze. There have also been times when the bucks snort-wheeze back upon hearing this call. One buck in Illinois snort-wheezed back to me five times before standing his hair up and sauntering in to me!” www.quakerboy.com

Woods Wise

“Unlike aggressive calls, our newest call, the Lost Fawn Ma-Mah, works for does and bucks at all times of the year and uses a sound I first heard when I used to monitor deer pens,” says Jerry Peterson, president and life-long deer-calling expert. “I heard fawns say maw… maw, and I’d see the instant reaction from does. It’s a contact call, or ‘I’m lost,’ and the cool thing about it is you can use this for bucks and does from the day deer season opens up to the rut. Success has been so great, we use the slogan, ‘Fills freezers fast.’ It’s crazy. We randomly call every 20 to 30 seconds, and in the early season, you won’t get to the third time if a deer is within 100 yards,” Peterson says. “They don’t run or act upset after hearing the Lost Fawn Ma-Mah call, but come in looking. The bonus is, we are also knocking the snot out of coyotes with it.” www.woodswise.com

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