Some whitetail hunters pack like turkey hunters, which is to say they haul everything but the kitchen sink to the treestand or ground blind. Not me. I rely heavily on only three easy-to-carry deer calls. Before I reveal my top picks, however, let me first discuss an important calling topic that is often ignored.
Once you’re on stand, it’s time to get organized — a critical component to successful calling. The goal is to make sure you can silently access any of your calls in 2 seconds or less. I make sure my grunt call is tethered to a cord that hangs around my neck, and I’ll typically tuck my grunt (to avoid bowstring interference) behind or near my snug-fitting binocular that I always have strapped to my chest with an elastic harness.
I most often depend on a Primos “The Can” bleat call that I keep in an unzipped front jacket or “kangaroo” pocket. It’s easy to use and whitetail bucks love it.
I like to hang my rattling system — typically a nice and compact Knight & Hale Pack Rack that delivers impressive realism despite looking nothing like a set of antlers — from the same screw-in gear hook that holds my daypack. Another nice thing about this call is that it’s completely silent when stored in your pack, so hikes into and out of your stand remain stealthy.
Incidentally, last fall my buddy Brian used another fine and realistic rattling system, a Primos Rack-n-Roll, to lure in his Minnesota trophy.
Whatever your own system, it shouldn’t take more than 2-3 seconds, or require drastic movement, noise or unzipping, to blast out any type of call to a passing buck. If unsure of your call placement, it can help to go through a few trial “call-accessing runs” during those long hours on stand — right after you’ve zapped all your shooting lanes with your rangefinder.
There are many fine grunt calls on the market, and I’ve used several that worked just fine, but one of my all-time favorites is the Duel Stretchback Deer Call. To my ear there isn’t a more-realistic grunt on the market, and this one also allows you to produce both soft and extremely loud tones, keeping its scintillating realism even when the volume cranks way up when most lesser calls can squawk like a sick duck.