At no other time of year is noise in the field more conducive to bringing in a big buck than the rut, but it needs to be the right sound or cadence of calls, to draw those big deer in for a closer look.  With dozens of affordable options available and deer firearms seasons across the upper Midwest rapidly approaching, Runnings has all the tools of the trade you’ll need to help talk to those big deer and bring them into shooting range.

Get ‘Em Rattled

Rattling antlers can be employed all season long with some success, but the best time of the year is just around the corner. The sound of whacking antlers and crashing bone draws deer in from a distance, particularly on those calm, cool mornings where bucks are breaking down their territory through displays of dominance.  A variety of options exist beyond making your own set from a previously harvested buck’s headgear, and they are often lighter, safer and easier to use on stand or in the blind.

Antler bags, like the Primos Big Bucks Bag Rattling System, are compact and easy to carry into the field or up into the stand.  Able to be worked covertly with a quick roll between hands, the antler bag can be increased in volume by adding in more sticks, or elevated as conditions and the presence of deer allow.  Another compact offering to simulate a buck battle is the Knight and Hale Pack Rack, a small hexagonal pair of plastic discs that are ground together while on stand, creating a crunch and smack that sounds like a real antler fight without taking up much room in your hunting bag. For the ultimate control, and the most realistic feel next to actual antlers, try a pair of Primos Fighting Horns.  With extra long handles, these polymer antlers sound similar to the real thing and can be whacked, twisted and smacked, sending out an invitation to the rest of the herd to join in on this fall’s installment of Fight Club.

From trigger to trigger

From trigger to trigger.  Rattling antlers, doe bleats and buck grunt calls can help set off a response from the big buck in your hunting area and draw him into shooting range. Have a stash in your hunting stand or find compact models at Runnings for your deer pack.

Employ rattling antlers on morning sits, when the air is cool and calm.  On windy days, the sound will not travel as well and they may require a little more muscle.  As the rut approaches and peaks, bucks will be aggressive and edgy, and the noise of two other males intruding on the dominant deer’s territory will bring him in.  Start with slight clicks and clacks and grow your cadence into an aggressive battle over a minute or two, and then fade back down and stop.  If you’re on the ground, add in a couple thumps in the dirt or grass to add some realism in your battle. Keep your eyes on brush and cover downwind from your hunting site, as big bucks are careful and will want to know what they’re getting into, using both scent and sight to assess the situation before moving into shooting range.

In addition to the sound of crunching antlers, vocalizations are key as the firearms season approaches and spans the rutting phase.  Doe calls and buck grunts are two primary options for hunters to talk to nearby deer and bring them in.  Runnings has a number of cans, calls and tubes to get the message out to nearby bucks that something is going on.

Nothing brings a buck in like the sound of a doe ready to mate, and Primos’ Can System is one of the premier offerings available for sportsmen taking to the field this November.  Simply tip the can over and turn it back up, and a low estrous bleat is emitted, simulating a female deer ready to breed.  Whether purchased in a multi-sized pack, or in a variety of small, medium and large options, there’s a can to match the phase of the rut and the room in your hunting pack.  Give a couple tips of the can and wait to see what happens. Cover it with a gloved hand to soften the bleat on calm days, or leave it uncovered when breezes blow or in the peak of the rut to get that “come hither” call out to nearby bucks.

buck with head down in aggressive mode

When a buck approaches with his head down, he may be trying to track the source of your bleat or grunt and be in an aggressive mode, particularly during the rut. Watch him closely and adjust your calls accordingly.

Grunt calls are inexpensive and exciting additions to any deer hunter’s arsenal, and are best used to lure in those bucks that hang up on the edge of an area, but can have startling effects when no deer appear to be around.  Calls like Hunter’s Specialties Bucgrunter or Primos’ Hardwood Grunter tube are great standard offerings to help explore the potential of various grunts from doe tending activity, to sub-dominant buck challenges, to simulating the biggest buck in the bunch.  With flexible tubes, the sounds from these tubes can be projected in a variety of directions, or deepened in tone by extending the plastic down and away from the mouthpiece. Practice calls based on what you hear in the field or check out online tutorials on how to simulate various deer sounds and exchanges, from the slight tending grunt to an aggressive challenge.

Once you have the hang of the basics, more advanced calls, like the Primos Magnum Roar or Rut Roar and the Hunter’s Specialties True Talker Legacy, will help round out your sound offerings when the rut is at its peak.  Couple a can with a grunt tube to carry on an in-field conversation between two imaginary deer and draw in a curious buck.  Make that conversation even more realistic with a decoy including Primos’ SCAR if you have some time to set them up a night or two before the season starts or are hunting with a couple of buddies who can help with transport.  Don’t forget a vial of doe scent to seal the deal with sound, sight and scent.

If you’re talking deer hunting, any sportsman worth his salt has an auditory option or two at his fingertips while in the field and Runnings has a variety to choose from.  So, grab some rattling antlers or a grunt tube and get some practice in before this year’s firearms season kicks off.  The friendly staff in your local Runnings sporting goods department can lend a friendly ear and help point you in the direction of all the calls you’ll need to help talk to – and bag – your biggest buck ever!