By Mark Kenyon
Deer season is finally here and you’re pumped. You’ve set all your stands, shot your bow a thousand times, and watched so many deer hunting shows and DVDs that you can practically recite the lines as you go (it’s not too hard … “I just shot an AWESOME Iowa whitetail!”).
By this point you’re raring and ready to go, but sometimes all of that pent up excitement and gusto can be your downfall in the whitetail woods. Especially when it comes to early season hunting and the use of calls. Yea, I know, you saw Lee & Tiffany snort wheeze that buck in from 532 yards on TV, and it just has to work for you too. But unfortunately, that’s often times not reality. In fact, trying too many TV style calling tactics early on is much more likely to ruin a season than it will make it.
With that said, here are three season saving reminders about early season calling. Read on, take heed, and be careful with your grunt tubes, can calls, rattling antlers and acorn crunchers these next few weeks! (Is anyone out there really using an acorn cruncher?)
1. DON’T: Remember that football chant the cheerleaders used to recite? “Be aggressive. B-E Aggressive!” Take that chant, add a “DON’T” at the beginning, and then recite that in your head three times each evening while hunting for the next two weeks. This is not the time to be aggressive. Keep it calm, keep it cool. The crazy stuff can come out later, but for now you’re just going to spook more deer than you’ll entice.
2. Hang Up the Antlers: In my opinion, rattling in the early season is a low odds game. Yes, occasionally bucks will spar early in the season, but it’s often short lived and very light. That said, if you’re going to do any rattling early on I’d recommend it be just some light tickling of the tines. You might be able to get a buck curious enough to come in for a closer look, but your odds of firing up a bruiser buck with an all out smash ’em up rattling session is very unlikely. Keep it calm, keep it cool.
3. Make Contact: So far my reminders have been focused on what not to do, but I now want to recommend something you should do. And that is use “contact grunts”. During the early season, when it comes to calling, I recommend focusing just on piquing curiosity. You’re not likely to draw in a buck from miles away with crazy calling, but you might be able to entice a curious buck to close the final 10 yards into shooting range. A contact grunt is a great way to do this. When you make a contact grunt you’re essentially saying, “hey, I’m over here, I’m a deer, whats up?”
For those that don’t know, a contact grunt is a light, short grunt that kind of sounds like a “Burpp”. Try it once or twice, but if you’re not getting a buck’s attention, call it quits. Continuing to grunt at a buck over and over, even if you’re being light and quiet, can do just as much damage as other more aggressive calling techniques.
Do you have any other advice or opinions on early season calling? Let us know in the comments section!