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Field Guide -Deer

Deer Calls 101: 5 Must-Know Types Of Calls

Do you know your deer calls? A solid understanding of deer communication patterns, knowing how to use calls, and applying a repertoire of essential vocalizations can help you lure in a big buck that would otherwise walk right by and out of your fire zone. 

So, are you fluent in deer sounds?

Deer make a wide range of calls throughout the year, and each vocalization means something different or can change depending on the season.

Deer calls are not just a tool; they are an essential component of your backpack and an invaluable resource during peak times such as rutting.

Here's a comprehensive HuntWise guide on the different types of calls to help you on your next successful deer hunt. 

A whitetail buck and doe together in a field, using deer calls for luring in bucks concept.

5 Must-Know Deer Calls

While deer aren't as chatty as species such as turkeys, they're still highly social creatures. They rely on an intricate system of calls to indicate various hierarchical and social messages necessary for their group's survival and propagation.

Deers use various physical signals, facial expressions, body language, and smells as part of their communication system. So, watch and listen to deer calling to add further context to their behavior patterns. 

Here's a breakdown of five of the most common call types.


A deer grunt call on a white background, types of deer calls for hunting concept.

1. Grunt Calls 

A grunt call is a short guttural noise miming the noises made by bucks.

It's commonly used to say, "I'm here, and this is my spot," – and this call will spark a challenge over territorial dominance. A tending grunt is a call of persistence similar to the guttural noise of a grunt and vocalized in succession to convince a doe to breed. 

  • When to use: This call is best deployed during the pre-rut and rut periods when deer are more combative over their territories or does. 

  • How to use it: Don't be afraid to mix up the intensity and cadence as low-drawn-out grunts are used more for calls of dominance, whereas multiple grunts in short succession in a disconnected flow are more commonly heard in bucks chasing does. 

2. Bleat Calls

Similar to a grunt, a bleat call carries an almost sheep-like whiny noise to differentiate it from a grunt. These calls are slightly higher pitched and used by does and fawns. 

  • When to use: Bleat calls can be effective throughout the season; however, they can be especially effective during the early season as they are less aggressive. 

  • How to use it: Bleats can alert a buck that a doe is around, especially when making or evoking a protective response if a fawn is in danger or has strayed too far from the group. 


A hunter holding deer antlers, using deer calls like antler rattles for hunting concept.

3. Rattling

Rattling simulates the sounds of antlers crashing, which indicate a fight between two competing bucks. 

  • When to use: This call strategy is best used during the rut when bucks compete for does and showcase their dominance. 

  • How to use it: Just like us, when a fight breaks out, we can't help but look at it. In the deer world, it's no different. The sound of deer fighting piques the curiosity of both does and bucks, eager to witness the battle for dominance. 

To replicate this sound, you can use real antlers that you've picked up or devices such as rattling racks to mimic a fight. Remember to vary the intensity and duration and use silence to draw interest. 

4. Snort-Wheeze Calls 

The snort-wheeze is a call of aggression. It's a nasal snort followed by a wheezing sound and is used by a buck to challenge another buck. 

  • When to use: Use this call during the peak of the rut, as it is arguably the most aggressive type of call in the deer repertoire. 

  • How to use: This call most commonly comes from mature established bucks, so use sparingly to avoid spooking off deer. 

5. Estrus Bleat Calls

The estrus bleat is a mating call used by does in heat. It's a distinct sound and sounds kind of like a kazoo. 

  • When to use: The call is highly effective during the peak rut as it is a call to buck that they are ready to mate. 

  • How to use: This call is loud and can be replicated with cans or electronic calls to draw in bucks searching for a mate.


A whitetail buck snorts while in a field, types of deer calls for hunting concept.

Choosing the Right Call 

Timing, seasonality, and social circumstances all influence when to use different deer calls

While it may sound simple, choosing the right call that matches the sound you want to make is the first step. Look for calls that can produce various sounds, allowing you to shift your calling strategy to different situations and deer behaviors.

Remember that aggressive buck grunts of bleats will be the most successful calls during the rut. Conversely, softer calls like contact grunts used for socialization will be more effective pre- and post-rut

Practice Your Calls

Practical experience is invaluable.

Before heading out into the field, spend some time getting familiar with your device. Join a local hunting club, speak to experts, and listen to recordings online or on YouTube. This will not only help you understand the calls but also observe the movements associated with them. 

Finally, remember that moderation is vital: silence, cadence, and rhythm play into your calls. Always blend calls such as grunts and snort wheezes alongside rattling to add realism to your calling. 


A hunter in camo in the woods carrying deer antlers on his pack, using deer calls concept.

Use HuntWise and Deer Calls to Tag Out This Season 

A combination of the right deer calls at the right time and your HuntWise app to track deer signs and activity can help you tag out this season. As you call, make notes in the app of how deer react, where they come from when they hear your call, and where they go if they leave the area. Documenting what you see and hear in the field can help you hone in on the best strategy for using calls to tag out.

Unsure when the rutting period stops and starts in your hunting region? What about peak times regarding weather, wind, and more? With HuntWise, you'll gain comprehensive insights into deer patterns, behavior, movements, and more. This knowledge empowers you to match the right call to the right environment, ensuring your hunting success no matter where you choose to hunt. 

The off-season is the best time to learn everything the HuntWise can do for you in the field! If you haven't downloaded it yet, do it today and explore every feature – free – for a week.

Or, if you already have the app, consider a Pro or Elite level subscription to unlock more features and discounts from our partners! Put the ultimate hunting tool to the test this season and experience more success.

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