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Advanced Deer Calling Tactics

Day 5: Brad Harris and Larry Norton on Techniques for Taking Deer

Editor’s Note: Deer calling is growing in popularity throughout the nation. Finally, deer-hunting aids are on the market that can stop a buck that is out of range, get his attention and cause him to come back and look for the hunter. Although many-different types of calls are available, they all seem to fall into three basic categories – rattling anglers, grunt calls and bleat calls. Each call has information in its package telling you how to use the call. But the small subtleties and tactics employed by master callers can make these calls much-more effective. These masters of the sport of deer calling have unique insights that will enable you to call more effectively and lure in more bucks each time you hunt. Today we’re looking at ways to increase the number of deer you see when you’re calling.

Click for Larger ViewBrad Harris, longtime avid hunter and well-known video producer in Missouri, is one of the nation’s leading deer-calling experts. “I include additional sounds like a snort call in my rattling sequence to give me a definite advantage and to call-in more bucks. The snort call will cause any buck to throw his head up and listen. For rattling or any other type of deer calling to be productive, you first have to get the deer’s attention. I generally make the snort call, before I ever touch the antlers to begin my rattling sequence. I also use a grunt call when I’m rattling. Click for Larger ViewMy rattling sequence usually starts with one or two snorts, continues with 15 seconds of rattling and then ends up with one or two grunts. I believe that using calls at the same time you are rattling sounds more realistic and often will call in more bucks. I usually rattle on my knees and kick my toes into the ground while rattling to simulate hoof beats. I’m convinced you must do more than simply rattle antlers to consistently bring in more bucks.

“One of the keys to using the grunt call successfully is to call loudly enough for the deer to hear you. If you expect the deer to be at 50 yards or less, then call softly. If the deer is standing at more than 100 yards, you have to grunt louder, or else the deer can’t hear you. When you have a deer coming, only call enough to keep him interested and make him move toward you. A tactic that often has worked for me when I can’t get a buck to come to me when I’ve stopped him with a grunt call is to give him what I call an aggressive grunt. This series of four or five single note, loud grunts may make a buck turn and move toward you when nothing else will. If I can’t get a deer to respond to a grunt call, then I’ll use a bleat call as an option. I like an adult bleat call that sounds like northing more than an elongated grunt. Often a bleat call seems to be the encouragement a buck needs to come to me. I use the bleat call after the grunt call often during the rut. On some days deer will respond better to the bleat call than to the grunt call. I’m trying to tell the buck that more than one deer is in the area where I am calling. I’m not trying to simulate a buck and a doe. I’m attempting to say, ‘Hey, two deer are over here. Come on over.’ Because I’ve heard bucks, does and fawns bleat, I don’t believe a deer can determine the sex of another deer by the sound it makes. I do know that the bleat is an effective call to use with the grunt call or by itself and should be used much more frequently than it is.”

Larry Norton:

Click for Larger ViewLarry Norton of Butler, Alabama, winner of numerous deer-calling and turkey-calling contests and longtime deer and turkey guide, believes rattling seems to be most effective the week before the rut. “When I rattle, I want the bucks to think a battle is going on for the first estrous doe that is ready to breed. By rattling just before the rut begins, you can get the buck’s hopes up for an estrous doe. Also I think more bucks will come in quicker at this time of year. During this pre-rut time, I’ll use the grunt call but more timidly than I do during the rut. Click for Larger ViewWhen the rut is on, I use a magnum grunt call. I start my calling series with a timid grunt call. Then I won’t scare-off any bucks. However, if a buck doesn’t come in, I’ll use the magnum grunt call to try and reach-out over a greater distance and touch a buck with my call. The fawn bleat usually is the most-productive during the early part of bow season. Like other hunters, I have found that triggering that maternal instinct brings in does.”

To learn more about successfully hunting deer, purchase John E. Phillips’ books, “The Masters’ Secrets of Hunting Deer,” “The Science of Deer Hunting,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer” at

Check back each day this week for more about "Advanced Deer Calling Tactics "

Day 1: Tips for Successfully Calling Deer
Day 2: Quaker Boy’s Dick Kirby Explains the Fine Art of Rattling for Deer
Day 3: David Hale Explains How to Take Deer with Grunt and Bleat Calls
Day 4: Eddie Salter’s Tactics for Taking Deer with Grunt and Bleat Calls
Day 5: Brad Harris and Larry Norton on Techniques for Taking Deer

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Entry 643, Day 5