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The Back 40

Calling All Bucks

Wed, October 10, 2012

It’s not too early to start using your calls and shed antlers to coax in a buck.

Once bucks shed their velvet, they start the process of separating from the bachelor pack.  As the days go by, they become more and more of loners.  The aggression towards each other heightens with the passing of every day until the last doe has been bred. 

In the first weeks of October, where we are now, the aggression is light.  So should be your calling.  If you use a set of sheds to call in a buck this time of year, don’t over do it.  Mimic a sparring match, not a full on brawl between two monsters.  Tickle the tines together, but don’t make the sequence last too long.  It’s unnatural for this time of year.  If you’ve ever watched two bucks spar this time of year, and I already did last weekend, their attitude seems to be more of annoyance than aggravation.  They’re in the early stages of testing each other and showing off a bit.  But things will change soon.  The sparring will be traded for full out “I want to kill you” fighting within the next couple of weeks.  For now though, keep your rattling and grunt calls on the milder side. 

If you have a doe on her way to your stand site, don’t call.  Watch her back trail.  Though you probably won’t find a monster-shooter behind her yet, you may spot a younger 1-1/2 year-old buck following her.  The older, more mature bucks, always know when the gettin’ is good with does…and the gettin’ is not good yet.  Take the doe if you like, but know that you may be educating that younger buck.  I don’t know about you, but I like my bucks uneducated.  If you’re looking for some early-season freezer meet though, try to take a doe that isn’t being followed.  In the weeks to come, they’ll be harder and harder to find…unfollowed that is. 

As October runs through its days, get a little more aggressive with your calling.  Hit the antlers harder with a little more violence added.  Get a little more serious with your grunt call.  And don’t be afraid to do some blind calling…calling when you don’t have a deer in your sight.  Make things happen.  This is especially true for those of you who hunt smaller pieces of property like I do.  Sometimes that’s all we can do to lure a buck over to our side of the fence. 

Deer vary from area to area in terms of their responsiveness to calling.  My old property had a herd that could care less about calling.  The deer themselves weren’t even that vocal.  I hunted that piece of ground for 15 years and I can count on one hand the times I heard a buck grunt.  My new place is quite different.  The deer there are very vocal starting in early October.  I can still remember November 1st, 2009 like it was yesterday.  As I sat in the morning darkness waiting for daylight, I heard four different bucks around me all grunting like they were having a conversation.  One behind me, one in front of me, and two to my left.  I could hear them walking all around me.  As soon as I got good shooting light, I grunted once, and attached my release to my string.  That’s how confident I was that I’d call one of them in on a string.  Within 15 seconds I could hear one walking towards me in a thicket.  As he got to an opening straight out in front of me, I let the arrow fly.  Long story short, I hit a twig.  But that buck is far from the only one I’ve called in.  They’re just more aggressive at the new place.  How aggressive you ask?  A few years ago I made a less than perfect shot on a buck.  I went in the next morning to look for him and jumped him up.  He looked completely unharmed and as healthy as a deer can be that was just shot the prior afternoon.  Three days later I hunted the other end of my property.  It was a morning hunt.  Shortly after daylight, I could see a buck moving a couple hundred yards from me.  I used my handy buck roar and pulled him in on a string.  As he got closer, I had a suspicion that he was the same buck.  At 20 yards it was confirmed.  At 7 yards he was shot.  I couldn’t believe that a buck that had been shot three days earlier came into an aggressive call.  Aggressive bucks certainly make for fun hunting. 

So don’t be afraid to call this time of year.  It’s still early, so don’t be too aggressive with your calling.  Make the buck interested in who’s grunting.  Don’t overcall.  Make him find you.  Once he’s on his way in, lay off.  If you don’t he’ll pick you off.  When using antlers this time of year, I’m fairly quick to hang up the sheds after a very short sequence.  With leaves still on trees and visibility low, you may be calling in a buck that was only 50 yards from you.  Don’t let him spot you or hear you putting the antlers away. 

I’ll be heading out to the timber in about an hour and this will be the first time this year I’ll be bringing the horns with me…just to test the waters a little.  Wish me luck as I wish you the same. 

John Soehn-Treehugger


I watched two small buck bucks spar last friday night.  Not really going at it but still nice to see.  Good luck John

Posted by jcurri on October 10

I also saw a couple bucks sparing last Friday morning.  They were through the brush so couldnt get a good look but they were not little boys!

Posted by Tree_Dude on October 10

I think that’s the same night I saw two little guys messing around.

Posted by Treehugger on October 10

The bachelor groups are definately breaking up. I have been getting lots of pics of new bucks including a giant non typical.  I really hope I get a shot at him this year.

Posted by jcurri on October 10

I did some light rattling sunday afternoon with a decoy and had a 6 pointer run into the food plot my son and I were hunting. That was a first for me to be rattling this early but it worked and will try it again this weekend to see if I can get the same reaction.

Posted by ilarcher on October 10

Had a couple young 8pts in the field testing eachothers neck strength last night.  nothing crazy but loud enough i could hear them clang on eachother from 75-80 yards away.  Very cool.  there were 4 does and 2 fawns in the field at the same time.

Posted by Tree_Dude on October 11

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