John's Journal...

Calling All Deer with Dr. Larry Marchinton

Rattling Antlers

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 hiPhilip Vanderpools research on deer vocalization.

To give an overview of deer calling, we must not only mention deer vocalization but also take a passing look at rattling antlers. Marchinton feels that antler rattling falls into two categories – sparring matches and buck fights. According to Marchinton, “Sparring matches, which are not true fights, usually take place early in the season right after the velvet is shed from the buck’s antlers. During this testing time, each buck learns what his position is in tClick to enlargehe herd, and deer form their pecking order. As the season progresses, and the does go into the rut, there often will be full-blown fights. The fights occur when two dominant bucks or two bucks that think they’re dominant come into conflict because of a doe, which is when the all-out battles occur. Once you understand the differences in the two types of deer fights, you have to adapt the severity of your rattling techniques to the time of the year you’re hunting. If you’re hunting early in deer season when the bucks are forming their pecking order, then tinkling the antlers – just lightly hitting the tips together and not clashing the antlers together nearly as hard as you will later in the season – is best. If you’re rattling during the rut, you need to clash the antleMike Rexrs together with a lot of force and grunt to simulate a full blown buck fight. But, once again, rattling antlers is not a sure-fire way to bring in a dominant buck. I’ve seen dominant bucks that were tending does actually veer away from fights. Researchers believe that they move away from a fight to keep from losing the doe that they’re tending.”

Although information about deer vocalization and deer calling will make you more knowledgeable about the deer you hunt, all hunters should remember that deer calling is not a magic cure-all. Calling deer doesn’t replace the hunter’s knowledge of the animal or the hunter’s woodmanship. The ability to call deer is just another aid that on certain days under specific conditions may bring a buck in to where a hunter is.

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 5