Deer Calling – Buck Vocalizations For The Rut


The pre-rut seems to be in full swing in most regions, with peak rut activity predicted to take place between November 8th-14th. We’ve received a lot of inquiries lately asking about proper calling techniques for this magical time of year.

It’s important that you first understand the three major buck vocalizations, what they mean and when they’re used. Here’s some calling knowledge to add to your arsenal.

Three Main Buck Vocalizations

The Grunt:

A “Grunt” is likely the most commonly used buck vocalization, and one that most hunters should be familiar with. This call is typically heard in a soft series when a buck is trailing a doe, during both pre-rut and peak rut. This series is also referred to as tending grunts. Meaning that a buck is tending a doe. When used in this manner the buck is simply courting the doe and signaling that he’s ready to breed.

Although normally heard during the rut, bucks also use grunts throughout the year. They’re known to be used as a contact call for locating other deer, and as a warning sign to intimidate younger bucks. I know a few hunters who’ve harvested some very nice early season bucks by utilizing a locating grunt call. During the rut I recommend using a tending grunt series, 4-5 soft consecutive grunts simulating a buck trailing a doe. This should help grab that testosterone induced bucks attention.

The Roar:

A “ Roar” is one of the rarer buck vocalizations. It’s likely that you’ve never experienced this call in the field, and if you have you won’t forget it! This call has controversial meaning, mainly because it’s known to be used in two very different situations.

Often times, this call has been heard after a buck loses the trail of a doe that he’s been tending. It’s thought to symbolize the bucks frustration and anger of not capitalizing on his opportunity. Furthermore, it’s also known to be used as a breeding call, symbolizing a buck in the process of breeding with a doe. These are two very different circumstances. The most probable use, is for a hunter to use this call during the rut, symbolizing a buck breeding a doe. Use this call sparingly and only when in the presence of a Mature Buck.

The Snort-Wheeze:

A “Snort-Wheeze” is thought to be one of the most aggressive buck vocalizations. If you’ve ever killed a buck using this method you know why. It’s meaning is simple, I’m ready for a fight!

This call is most effective when used after a contact call. Once you visually see that you’ve gained a buck’s attention with a few contact grunts, it’s time for the challenge call. Cue the Snort-Wheeze, “fffttt, fffftttt, fshhhhhhhh”. This call induces some of the most exciting reactions. Get ready to hear a query of crushing leaves and an angry buck barreling through the woods.

A Calling Scenario

Here’s a quick calling scenario that you can mimic in the field. It’s peak rut and you’ve located a buck tending a doe about 80 yards from your stand. Your goal to is first grab his attention, then lure him within bow range. The only way you’ll pull a buck off a doe during peak rut is to convince him you’re another buck in his territory breeding with a doe.

First, hit him with a few contact grunts. A good sign that you’ve got his attention is when you see his ears pull back and hair stand up. Second, use a snort-wheeze to let him know you’re going to challenge him. A good sign is a buck rubbing brush and scraping the ground. Now it’s time to really get him angry. Use a breeding grunt, the roar, symbolizing a buck breeding a doe. This will likely get him interested enough to step within bow range.

Two Cool Facts

A mature buck will likely try to get downwind of you prior to making his approach. In the process a buck will lick his nose to add moisture. This enhances their ability to pick up scent.  

In a hunting environment with thick cover, deer communicate much more verbally.  On the contrary, in open terrain deer communicate less verbally because they rely more heavily on sight.

Rattle During The Rut

Bucks have reached peak testosterone this time of year, and most are ready to fight for breeding rights. Try rattling between October 25th and November 15th. This is prime time to utilize some antler action. Don’t be afraid to throw some calling in with a rattling sequence. I’ve experienced a very memorable hunt by utilizing this tactic.


Bottom line, the rut is ideal for utilizing calling techniques. Understanding different calls, there meaning, how and when to use them, can increase your chances of harvesting that mature buck. Try giving these calling techniques a shot during this years rut!

Until next time….Hunt Hard!


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