3 Essential Whitetail Calling Strategies
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Calling is an effective means of locating and drawing whitetails to your stand or blind location. Calling techniques are most common during the rut but they can be used throughout the hunting season. Having a variety of call options available will make you a more effective whitetail hunter.

Here are a few essential whitetail calling strategies:


Bucks start sparring before the rut and continue throughout and after the rut. Pre-rut rattling is less aggressive than full on rut sparring. Bucks will size each other up and start pressing for dominance and territory leading into the rut. During the rut, they spar aggressively and define territory and mates. Post rut, some sparring still occurs as a few does enter estrus late and still provide opportunity to breed.

Adjust your rattling to reflect the season. Rattle sparingly and lightly during the pre-rut and add amplify things as the rut progresses. Start backing off later in the rut as bucks spar less frequently and become more call shy.



Does and fawns bleat to communicate throughout the year. Bleats are effective for calling both does and bucks. The frequency of bleats increases during the rut as does are pursued by bucks. Fawns bleat at a higher pitch than does. Bleating to imitate a lost fawn is effective for calling does. Doe bleats can attract bucks during the rut as well. You can bleat to communicate with other does or use a combination of bleats, grunts and rattles to imitate bucks competing over does. Several commercial calls are available for bleat imitations.

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Numerous mouth calls are also available for grunts. Bucks grunt to define territory and show dominance. They will grunt while scraping and rubbing. They also grunt directly at other bucks. You can gunt to challenge and show ownership of an area. Throw out a load grunt to draw bucks from a distance and use a soft grunt to draw a buck’s attention when he is near. Alternate between grunts and bleats during the rut to build a competitive environment. Grunts are most effective during the rut and are not used often outside of the rut. It doesn’t hurt to breakup a slow day of hunting however by using a grunt call. A buck may hear the call and decide to run you out of his area.


Snort Wheeze

This call is used when a buck is present and typically visible. Commercial calls are available but this is a fairly easy call to do with your mouth. Mature bucks will wheeze to alert other deer to their presence. An immature buck may move away from the wheeze to avoid conflict but a mature buck is likely to investigate and size up the competition. Use the wheeze when that buck is out of range to draw him in closer. It also works well when combined with rattling. Draw bucks with your rattle then follow up with a wheeze to close that final gap.


Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is a fly fishing guide and freelance writer based in Montana. Zach has fished and guided in Alaska, Colorado and Patagonia. When he's not fishing, Zach is chasing big game, upland birds and waterfowl.