Calling deer is a relatively new concept for deer hunters. Grunting wasn't unheard of but store shelves and catalogs weren't stocked with dozens of different calls ten years ago. Grunt calls are getting increasingly popular as more outdoor television personalities use them and hunters see the effectiveness for themselves. If you've never used one, I highly recommend trying a grunt call. The good news for novices is grunt calls are easy to use and learning buck language isn't like studying Mandarin.
The most important thing to consider is volume. Deer will grunt loud and they grunt softly. Many hunters are afraid to grunt loudly out of fear of scaring deer. Unless you grunt very loud with a deer right under your tree, you’re not going to scare a deer. In fact, a loud grunt will help bring deer in from further distances.
The second most commonly asked question about grunting is how often should you grunt. My answer is always, “it depends.” If you’re blind calling, calling in the hopes of attracting distant deer to your location, I would call about every 20 minutes. Two or three one note grunts will do the trick. If a deer is in the area and in the mood, they will be there in a hurry.
I have watched bucks nearly sprint across a field to my location after a grunt. If you’re hunting deeper in the woods they generally move swiftly but cautiously. Keep in mind I have also called at bucks I could see and they act like they don’t even hear it. Sometimes you can do everything right and they just won’t react to calling.
My philosophy may be different from others but if I see a buck I won’t call to them unless I believe they won’t make it to my location unless I call them. Bucks can pinpoint the location of a sound with uncanny precision. Last fall I grunted in a buck from several hundred yards away. He walked to within 20 yards of my tree without ever calling at him again.
If I spot a buck and he is walking or feeding toward me, I’ll let him move naturally to my location. But if he starts moving away, I’ll give him one or two soft grunts, whatever is necessary to get his attention. Usually, they will raise their head up to look for the buck that grunted at them. From there it depends on the mood. I’ve never had one run away. They usually continue along the route they were already on or come toward me. Either way, nothing lost. A lot of hunters are afraid a grunt will “mess up” their hunt. In my experience it either does nothing or it brings a buck in. Bucks are used to hearing grunts. It won’t scare them. If you’re really worried about it practice on smaller bucks that you plan to pass up. Even if you don’t shoot, it’s fun to get their attention.
My favorite buck grunt call is the Flextone Buck Collector. I’m not sponsored by them and the call I have on my lanyard was bought and paid for with my own dollars. It’s inexpensive, easy to blow, and I like the way the material flexes. You can really move the call around to mix up the sound. Some of the hard plastic calls on the market feel uncomfortable when temperatures get cold. No matter what you go with, give calling a shot. Once it works for you, you’ll be hooked!