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Calling All Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton

More Kinds of Deer Calls

Alex RutledgeEditor’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.

Mating Calls:Click to enlarge
“The grunt call that the hunter most often uses doesn’t fall in the category of aggressive calls but comes under the heading of tending or mating calls,” Marchinton said. “The tending grunt is more drawn out, and the sound of the grunt actually lasts longer than the aggressive grunt. The aggressive grunt is shorter and choppier than the tending grunt. The tending grunt is the call that the deer voices when he’s tending a doe. But even if the hunters get these two calls confused, the grunt still may have the same effect of drawing in a buck, because a buck may come to the call either to fight or to mate. The grunt call, whether it is a tending grunt or an aggressive grunt, may also run off a subordinate buck. The aggressive grunt almost always will scare off a subordinate buck. But the tending grunt may draw a subordinate buck that hopes he may be able to breed the doe that’s with the other buck. The phlegm and sniff is a kind of squeaky noise that the deer makes when he curls his lip up. This call usually is given by a buck when he first smells estrous urine. And oftentimes bucks will give this call whether the urine is estrus or not.”Alex Rutledge

The Contact Call:
“The contact call is given primarily by does and fawns of both sexes,” Marchinton commented. “This too is a type of grunt. But this contact call is longer than the threatening grunt and not quite as low as the other grunts but rather a little higher pitched because it’s made by the does and fawns. The contact call seems to tell other deer, ‘I’m over here. Come find me.’ Quite often I’ve heard this call given by fawns that are separated from their does.”
Scientists have learned that the grunt call in its various levels of intensity and different tones is used by deer to communicate many things at different times, which is perhaps one of the reasons that commercial grunt calls often tend to be so effecAlex Rutledgetive. Even if you give the wrong grunt call, you still may lure in the deer. For instance if you mean to give a tending grunt, but you don’t know the difference between a tending grunt and an aggressive grunt, and the sound you give communicates aggression, you still may call in a buck a that prefers to fight, which is what makes deer calling so different from other types of animal calling. If you give the wrong call when you’re duck or turkey calling, more than likely you’ll spook the game – but not when calling deer.”

Fawn Calls:
“The mew is a high-pitched call that’s not as loud as the bleat,” Marchinton explained. “The mew seems to be a call that the fawn uses to solicit the attention of a doe. Also a juvenile utilizes the mew to keep from getting lost or just to be recognized. The bleat is louder and longer than the mew and much more intense. The fawns often will use the bleat when they want to feed. The bleat is quite similar to a contact call and is often used by the hunter to say to the deer, ‘Hello, I’m over here. Come find me.’ The nursing whine is a sound fawns vocalize when they’re nursing or when they want to nurse.”

Tomorrow: Techniques for Calling Deer

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 3