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Calling All Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton

Types of Deer Calls

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: What is a hunter saying to a deer when the woodsman blows a call? What calls are the most effective? What actually is meant by the sound that the hunter is trying to imitate? Although every hunter and each call manufacturer has his own notion, at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, the sounds that whitetail deer make and what they mean by these sounds have been scrutinized carefully by a team of scientists that included Dr. Larry Marchinton, the former head of the University of Georgia’s Deer Research Project, who’s now retired. This week Dr. Marchinton shares his research on deer vocalization and identifies some of the calls that deer make and tell us what they mean.

Distress Calls:Click to enlarge
“Two calls indicate distress – the snort and the bawl,” Marchinton reported. “Most hunters have heard the snort, which is an alarm call that deer use. I personally believe that the snort communicates that there’s danger in the area. And some research tends to indicate that when a deer snorts, he’s trying to solicit some type of response from the animal or person at which he’s snorting. When a deer snorts, often he senses danger, which may mean that he’s using this type of communication to try and make a predator show itself. But there are no easy definitions of what deer sounds mean. My one-timClick to enlargee graduate student, Grant Woods, who’s now a famous biologist utilized the snort to call deer in, which if the snort was strictly an alarm call, then the snort wouldn’t be able to lure deer. However, Woods did just that. So we’re still learning a great deal about deer vocalization. The bawl, which is a cry of pain, can be made on a modified predator call. The bawl is an effective call for the hunter to call up does. Occasionally I’ve seen a buck come to the bawl, but this call apparently stimulates the maternal response of the deer. Although the bawl seems to be most productive right after fawning season, deer will come to this call even later on in the fall.”

Antagonistic or Aggressive Sounds:
“There are basicClick to enlargeally three of these calls that are given by the mature buck,” Marchinton mentioned. “There’s the grunt, the grunt/snort, and the grunt/snort/wheeze. The grunt is a low guttural sound that can be utilized by both sexes throughout the year. It is the lowest intensity of antagonistic interaction. The grunt/snort is a more-intensive call than the grunt that’s also made by both sexes. This call is given by making a grunt sound and immediately following the grunt with rapid snorts. This is not the same type of snort that’s an alarm call and is long and drawn out. The snorts that follow a grunt are short and choppy. When a deer gives this call, he’s making a little more-serious threat to the other deer and the animals to which he’s talking. The grunt/snort/wheeze, the most-aggressive call that a deer vocalizes, is made with a grunt followed by one to four snorts, and then a wheeze. When a deer gives this call, he’s telling another deer or the animals that are threatening him that he’s serious, and something is going to happen.”

Tomorrow: More Kinds of Deer Calls

Check back each day this week for more about "Calling All Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton"

Day 1: Calling Deer
Day 2: Types of Deer Calls
Day 3: More Kinds of Deer Calls
Day 4: Techniques for Calling Deer
Day 5: Rattling Antlers


Entry 377, Day 2