John's Journal...

Calling All Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton

Techniques for Calling Deer

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.

“I believe that now hunters are beginning to understand and effectively use deer calls,” Marchinton observed. “Whether we’ll ever reach the level of communication that a duck hunter has when he calls in a flight of ducks is still speculative. Remember that deer have bigger brains than ducks and are nClick to enlargeot fooled quite as easily.”
Dr. Marchinton is also an avid deer hunter. When asked if he used deer calls, he answered, “Occasionally. I play with all the calls to see what kind of results I’ll get. But the call I utilize most is the tending grunt. I use my mouth to call deer most of the time rather than commercial calls. I also use deer calls in conjunction with rattling. A call that I feel can be very effective is what I call the straining grunt. Hunters acquainted with the technique of hunting deer known as rattling understand that clashing the antlers simulates two bucks fighting. And from observing bucks fighting, I know they give off a grunting sound similar to that made by two linemen when they try to push and shove each other out of the way to make a hole for the running back. So I call this grunt the straining grunt, which is a deep guttural sound that’s somewhere between a roar and a grunt. Although on sev Eddie Saltereral occasions I’ve called deer in using this call, I’m sure at other times I’ve run deer off with it. The key to using this grunt successfully is to put a strained sound in the call. But a hunter must realize that this call may scare off any buck except the most-dominant buck in the area.
“Scientists are learning so much more about calling deer and using it as a hunting tactic that we’re just at the point now to be able to ask better questions to find out what we don’t understand. However, biologists do know that deer calling is not a surefire way to always bring in bucks. But since calling is effective at some times, I do use it when hunting but not always. The key to successful deer calling is to use the correct calls, at the right times of the year. For instance, the most-effective time to use the tending grunt is during breeding season. In the early part of hunting season if you want to call in a doe, then common sense tells you to make some fawn-in-distress calls or contact calls. If you’re hu Eddie Salternting in an area where the buck and doe ratio is so out of balance that there aren’t many bucks, and you want to harvest a doe, then rattle. In regions with few bucks and numbers of does, the does will respond to anything that sounds like a buck, especially the latter part of the season. However, calling in bucks is extremely difficult when there are many-more bucks than does. I don’t know if we’ve identified a call than can be considered to be effective to call in a buck where there are few bucks in an area. Where there is a more balanced buck/doe ratio and some older bucks are in the herd, then rattling becomes a very-effective way to call in a buck. Or, you can use the tending grunt in these places – especially after most of the does have been bred – to call in a buck. Many of the areas of the nation have deer herds so out of balance that there are far more does than bucks. So often the bucks in these regions don’t seem to respond to any form of calling nearly as well.”

Tomorrow: Rattling Antlers


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 4