Hunting brings a whole host of obstacles to overcome; it’s why we love the sport so much. Being away from the luxuries of society, braving frigid temperatures, rainfall, and making sure you take the perfect shot. But as difficult and exhausting all that can be, the most difficult task by far is actually to be able to get the deer to show up.
Thankfully, the amount of hunting experience our species has, have allowed us to come up with some clever ways to entice our pray into our sights. Two of these tools are bleats and antlers.
Bleats and Antlers
Two of my favorite techniques to use, and incidentally some of the most clever ideas, are bleats and antlers. A bleat is when you mimic the sound of a deer, whether it be a doe, fawn, or buck. And antlers are exactly what they sound like…. They’re antlers.
Hunters across the world have tried using these two techniques. But lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people complaining that they just don’t work for them.
That’s why we’re here today; we want to help you find success when using these two attraction techniques.
Bleats and Grunts
One wouldn’t be at fault for thinking that deer are nothing more than voiceless little creatures skulking silently through the woods. I mean, we barely ever hear the things. But the truth is, deer are some of the more vocal animals there are. It’s a by-product of them being herd animals.
Knowing how they communicate, when they communicate and why they are communicating can be the difference between getting your kill shot; or the chance never presenting itself.
These communications are known as bleats. There are a few different types of bleats for each type of deer. You’ve got fawn, doe, and bucks. Just like men, women, and children, the voices of deer are vastly different from each other.
The first thing you’ll want to do is get a deer bleat. There are plenty of options to choose from, but the ones that tend to perform best are wooden with some flexibility. The Illusion Extinguisher is undoubtedly one of the best around. You can adjust it for calling fawn, doe, and bucks, and works well in all types of weather.
Using your Bleat
The first rule to using a bleat call is to be believable. Don’t just blow into the bleat with all your might. Instead use it strategically, if you want to draw in a buck, go ahead and give a doe call. Just make sure it’s breeding time.
Also, use the bleat conservatively. When hunters enter an untouched hunting grounds, they notice these bleats were working wonders. Not too long after that, the deer stopped responding. Deer are unbelievably responsive animals, and they’ll quickly learn to tell the difference between a fellow deer, and a human pretending to be one.
Types of Bleat Calls
Different moments are going to call for different grunt calls. For instance, in the early season, short grunts work pretty well, whereas grunts during the pre-rut should be more aggressive and longer.
These are the times you’ll see herds still together at feeding grounds and such. This is when you’ll use short, unassuming grunts, to try and entice deer to your area.
During the breeding season, try using more aggressive grunts. Make them longer and sound a little deeper than pre-rut. This is going to help entice bucks looking for their doe.
Most of us don’t hunt fawn. Not only does it just feel unethical (my opinion), but they are also going to be next years doe and buck. Plus, they’ve already got coyotes chomping at the bit to get ahold of them. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use fawn bleats to bring in some more acceptable pray.
Using fawn bleats are miracle workers in the early season when mothers haven’t kicked them out in preparation for the rut.
Fawns have two main calls, locator bleats, and distressed bleats. The locator bleats are the sounds make when fawns are communicating with their mothers about their locations. Likewise, distressed bleats are the sounds make when fawns are in trouble. Similar to a child calling for their mothers for help.
Use these bleats as ways to draw doe into your line of sight so you can get a shot on them.
Antlers are another great way to attract deer to you — specifically bucks. These tools are used to mimic fights between bucks and are a phenomenal way to draw in other bucks. Like school yard kids running to watch a fight on the playground, deer will come running to spectate. This technique is called rattling.
There is a bevy of rattling antlers out there, my favorite being the Illusion Systems Black Rack Rattling Antlers. They mimic the sound perfectly, and they even come with an instructional video on how to use them.
How to Rattle
Much like bleats and grunts, you’ll get better success by rattling according to the deer’s behavior. For instance, in the early season, bucks aren’t too confrontational yet. For now, they’re only sparring with each other; you know, trying to see where they are on the dominance hierarchy.
During these months you should rattle for a few seconds at a time. Later on, when bucks start battling for dominance, that is when you can rattle for a minute (give or take a few seconds) at a time. Who knows, maybe you’ll attract an audience.
Rattling and Bleat Call Pitfalls
One of the biggest problems with rattling is how easy it is to get caught. A buck hears the fight and runs toward the action and catches you red handed. You’ve been exposed as a fraud, and he’ll never fall for your tricks again.
The same goes for bleats, never make a call while the animal is looking at you. At that point, you might as well just pack your bags and go home. You should also try and direct the funnel on the bleat to an area you want the deer to go to.
Most of all, be conservative when using these techniques. If you get caught, you’ll probably never see or hear from those deer again.
Remember, there is a ton of information out there on how to use, these products and when they will be most effective.