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Why do Deer Grunt?

Marty, What does a deer grunt mean exactly? I've heard deer grunt and then take off running. Last season I had a typical 8-pointer coming in from behind me. I didn't hear it, see it or anything. Then I heard it grunt, and it ran past me and scared me to death. The buck was only about 4 feet from me when it went by, but I don't think it had seen me because I was standing up against a big red-oak and my body was completely hidden from behind. One more question. Do deer travel more during the full moon period or the new moon period? I've heard my grandfather and his brother's argue about it during rifle season every year. Good Luck and Thanks Again Zachary

Zachary, Thanks for your questions. In this blog post I will answer your question concerning the deer vocalization. I will answer your moon phase question in an upcoming post, so I can dedicate the space needed to that great question which is often the subject of deer camp banter. Why Do Deer Grunt? The deer grunt is made by both bucks and does and could have several meanings. A buck will grunt to express dominance, to threaten another deer and as a means of locating other deer. A soft or low grunt is used by both bucks and does as a first act of aggression. When a dominant deer uses the soft grunt and the less dominant deer does not move, the dominant deer will either charge or hit the less dominant deer with a fore leg. During the early spring or while deer hunting in the fall, especially when food was involved, I heard and observed this increased aggression. Bucks approached food sources and grunted softly at does and fawns. If the does and fawns did not clear for bucks so they could eat, the bucks slammed their front hooves onto the backs of the other deer and forced them to move. Marty Prokop Says, “More Than Just Bucks” During the spring, I have seen does act similarly towards fawns around food sources. If the yearlings don’t move, the does actually rise on their hind legs and flail their front hooves striking the yearlings until they move away. Many Deer Grunt Patterns Bucks have several grunt patterns throughout the year. One of the vocalizations is referred to as the “tending grunt.” The tending grunt is used by bucks when they are on the trail of estrus does and to display dominance in hopes of keeping other bucks away. The tending grunt can also be used to attract does. The tending grunt can be a series of several grunts or a long, drawn-out grunt or even a short, single grunt. Calling a Deer using a Deer Grunt Tube When deer hunting, one of the most common ways deer hunters mimic natural deer calls is by using grunt tubes. Deer make grunt vocalizations to contact or locate other deer that they may not see. When a deer hears a grunt, often times they walk towards the sound attempting to locate the deer making it. When you see a buck moving past your deer hunting tree stand, you may opt to use a grunt call to stop the buck and get him to come towards your location. The Deer Snort I have been in similar deer hunting situations like you have described. I am sitting next to a big tree looking in the direction I expect a deer to come from. Then, from out of nowhere, I hear a deer snort and run past me at full speed. After I changed my shorts and composed myself, I watched the deer disappear into the brush. Notice I said the deer snorted. From what you described, I would say, the sound you heard might have been a snort. Here is the reason why. Even though you didn’t see the deer approaching, it could have heard you. When a deer is alarmed and can see or hear something, but cannot smell the source of potential danger, it will snort loudly and run. A deer snort is a sound a deer makes by blowing air through its nostrils. Generally, when a deer sees or hears something it cannot understand, it will snort consecutively two to three times while stomping the ground with a fore foot. Other body movements a deer can make while snorting include bobbling its head and flicking its tail. Deer snorts help alert other deer in the area of potential danger. A deer’s body movements — like stomping, head bobbing and tail flicking — can be used by the deer to get the source of the disturbance to move or show itself more plainly to the deer. Marty Prokop on How to Stop a Running Deer In most cases, a deer that snorts is one that bolts shortly after snorting. But, by using a deer call, you could stop a deer that snorts and starts to run off. I tested this during the archery season on my deer hunting land. One afternoon, I was walking out to my deer hunting tree stand. On the way to my tree stand I encountered two does feeding in the field. When I saw the deer I dropped down and began to crawl to some tall grasses to my left. The larger of the two does looked up, snorted loudly and stomped her foot. After a couple minutes she took off running. I grabbed my deer call, grunted twice and followed up with a fawn bleat. The doe stopped in her tracks. I used the fawn bleat two more times, and the doe began to walk towards me. She walked to within 30 feet. The young bucks, in the nub buck to two year range, have stopped and walked towards the combination grunt and fawn bleat. The older bucks are similar but with two big differences. They respond to the grunt, but not as readily to the fawn bleat. In addition, they stop but may not come in as close as the younger deer. Using a grunt call, I stopped two nice bucks that snorted and ran. Unlike the young bucks and the doe, they did not come to within bow range for me. They stopped at about 60 yards and would not come in closer. I believe since they could not see the deer calling, they eventually just moved on. Deer have many different vocalizations. Make sure you bring your grunt tube the next time you hit the deer hunting woods. You could stop a big buck in his tracks if he snorts at you and starts to run off. Good Luck and Great Hunting! Marty Prokop www.free-deer-hunting-tips.comhttp://

Posted by Marty Prokop

Comments

Guys,

I've had that happen to me too. I called all deer sounds grunts. Now I know the difference.

Zach asks good questions and I like them. Good blog post.

Annie

Posted by: Annie at April 15, 2007 9:55 AM

Marty,

Thanks for explaining that to me step by step otherwise I would not have understood it.lol

But after that buck ran by me last year, I set up my treestand and harvested a non-typical 11 point a week later at the same spot.

The only reason I harvested that buck is because your tips helped me so much.

Thanks Again

Zack

Posted by: Zachary at April 17, 2007 2:39 PM

Hi my name is Stephen and i am a hunting freak, i love hunting and i want to bag a great doe this year.

I shot a doe yesterday for my very first time and I thought I got a good lung shot. When I tried to find her i could not. I followed the blood trail and it was great and heavy and like magic it stopped and did not pick up again.

I feel bad and i dont want to mess up again.

I want to know if she is alive. I think she is and I want to finish the job.

I wanted to know how effective is the fawn in distress call for hunting in general. Does it work?

I would also like to know how does the buck bomb work, is that good as well?

Thanks.

Posted by: Stephen Hastie at October 22, 2007 6:35 PM

Stephen,

Thanks for your comment and questions.

Losing a deer that you thought was hit hard is tough, especially when it is your first deer.

Did you wait at least thirty minutes before tracking the deer?

If you don’t see the deer fall within your sight, it is a good rule of thumb to wait at least thirty minutes after you shoot to start tracking a wounded deer. This thirty minute timeframe allows the deer to bed down a little sooner and stiffen up.

Here are a couple scenarios that could have taken place with your deer.

One scenario is the shot was in the vital area and the wound plugged with fat causing the blood trail to stop. If the wound channel plugs, the blood cannot exit the body cavity, therefore leaving you with little or no trail to follow.

Another possible scenario is your shot may have been a little high on the deer’s back.

I have seen deer hunters shoot and graze the back of deer. There were ample blood trails for good distances, then like the trail you were following, they vanished.

In this scenario, the areas the initial shots were taken had all the signs of good solid hits — hair, blood and fat. The blood trails were very good…for about 100 yards. Then the deer hunters needed to crawl on their hands and knees following droplets for another 100 yards. Then blood trails stopped all together.

Tracking a Wounded Deer

When a blood trail stops, mark the last place you saw blood. Look in all directions from where this spot is. Look for the thickest, nastiest path heading away from that spot. Wounded deer will often seek the safety of thick, near impenetrable, spots to bed down.

Walk towards the thick brush. Keep an eye ahead for movement, a patch of white or an ear. Move slowly, looking for pinhead sized droplets of blood on the ground, twigs, leaves, grasses or any log the deer may have jumped over or crawled under.

Start to make 10 yard circles from where you last saw blood until you find sign of where the deer ran. Even if the wound was semi plugged with fat, a wound will still drip when the deer jumps over or goes under something. Mark this next blood spot and repeat the circle pattern until you are 100 percent certain there is no more trail to follow.

It is sometimes helpful to call one of your friends to help you with this task. He or she can stand at the last known sign as you move ahead. If your friend is a good tracker, when you find another drop, you stay still and have your friend move ahead of you searching for the next sign. If your friend is new at tracking, then have your friend take your spot and you move forward tracking.

Wounding a deer happened to one of my hunting partners a few years ago. He shot a nice deer that fell in its tracks. While my hunting partner was climbing out of his tree stand the deer jumped up and ran off. Other than the initial site of the shot, there was no visible sign to follow.

To track the deer, I crawled on my hands and knees following pinhead sized drops of blood. I found the deer tucked under a fallen tree in some of the thickest brush you can imagine, less than 20 yards from where my hunting partner shot.

The biggest thing to remember when tracking a wounded deer is NEVER give up too early.

Does the Fawn Distress Call Work?

In regards to your question on the fawn distress call, yes it works and works well. I have called in bucks and does using the fawn distress call.

You also asked about the Buck Bomb and its effectiveness. The Buck Bomb works well for dispersing a lot of scent into an area. The scent is sprayed into the air when you deploy the Buck Bomb and is carried on wind currents.

Good Luck and Great Hunting!
Marty Prokop

Posted by: Marty Prokop at October 23, 2007 1:47 PM

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