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Calling Indiana Bucks

7198 Views 18 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  anon782010
I grew up deer hunting in East Central Indiana. For the past 20 years I have been hunting in Michigan, exclusively. This fall I hope to get back to the woods I hunted as a kid - just for the memories. My question is how effective are grunt calls, doe bleats or rattling antlers at attracting Indiana Bucks? For what its worth I'll be hunting near the Randolph/Jay County line.

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They can be effective, the key is to use them at the right time. I normally like to carry a grunt tube and on occassion will use a rattling bag. The biggest producer for me though has always been the grunt tube. I normally like to use it right at the end of October and the first couple weeks in November. Thats when the Buck here are actively traveling the woods getting ready for the rut and its easier to grab their attention. I have used the rattling bag during this time as well but dont seem to get as good results.
Timing is everything with either the horns or grunt call. I like to rattle in the early season when the bucks are still together and have yet to establish dominence. Rattled six bucks in at the same time doing this a few years back. I have had varing success with a grunt call but in my experience closier to the rut is better. Last year on Vet. Day I called a big eight acrossed a 80 acre bean field like he was on a string and blew the shot. :bonk:
Rattling horns I have never tried, although I have a set. May experiment sometime with them. Grunt tube and doe bleat/grunt I use every year. I normally don't use them if I am seeing deer off and on. If things are real slow, I will try a few rounds of both. I can remember 3 bucks over the years and a couple does that I beleive to this day were responding directly to the call, as it wasn't more than 10 minutes till, and 2 less than 5, that they showed up to be put in the freezer. They do work but I think they can be "over" used at times as in getting too anxious for action. Patience is the key. 4 years ago during ML"firearm" season, I was after an 8 point I had seen during bow season. I had already taken a 6 point during archery season. Another 6 point crossed in back of my tree at about 50 yards and I let him go. Wanted a better look so used the grunt tube and sure enough, here he comes. Ended up taking him with the ML at 25 yards. If I knew then what I know now about my property, he would have walked as I now practice the best QDM that's possible on my place. The last three years I have shot the 3 largest bucks I have ever taken all in sequence. 8 point, 9 point, 9 point. The bar is raised every year for a larger buck. Anyway, YES calls DO work if not over used. Try it and you'll prove it to yourself. There is no substitute for patience though.:chillin:
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I hunt in NE indiana...the area i hunt is what i would say top notch for big deer. Im not saying theres not other places just as good...but i dont know of any that are better. I never used to belive in grunt calls or rattling. I toyed with it a little bit in high school but never put much thought into it. Now that i understand a lot more about the mating/dominance the last 3 or 4 yeras i carry a grunt call religiously. I use it mainly during last week october or first week november. I will wait an hour or so in my morning hunts to make sure nothing will just stroll by. Then i will give a series of grunts. This year was the first year it worked but i grunted a 150-160" into about 60 yds. Although i didtn kill this deer because thats allt he closer he came:chicken: it was obvious he was after me because of the grunt tube. Would have never come out of there if it wasnt for me grunting. I will play my cards a little different next year and hopefully have the same luck. Long story short..... if u call them...they will come :)
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Deer Calling..


I have had tremendous success using deer calls all over the Midwest. I have had better success with deer calls compared to antler rattling. The main key to success is to use the RIGHT call at the RIGHT time.
If I had to choice only ONE deer call for the entire deer season, it would be a doe bleat. The reason for that is simple.. So many times a novice deer hunter will enter the woods and will imitate a MONSTER BUCK and will actually intimidate smaller bucks..

I prefer to sound like a doe bleat because a doe is NEVER a threat to a buck!! A buck considers the doe as a "sex symbol" and companionship. They are NEVER concerned about a doe whipping his butt. I have personally called bucks of all sizes to within "spitting" distance of my tree stand or ground blind.

During the early bowseason, if the bowhunter is content with harvesting a doe, I have had lots of success using the "fawn in distress" call. Even a doe that has no young will have maternal instincts and will respond to what she believes is a young deer being attacked by dogs or coyotes. I have had them walk right up to me while using the distress call.

I do at times, use the buck call but I want to sound more like a smaller buck. I believe a buck responds better to a call, or grunt, IF they believe they are bigger than the buck doing the calling. They feel they can defeat the smaller buck in a fight for the doe. (Would YOU want to pick a fight with a guy much bigger than you??)

This is only my personal opinion but is has worked for me for well over 40 years of deer hunting with bow and firearms and I have done quite a bit of experimenting with calls in many different states at different times of the hunting seasons.

Bud Fields
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I have had alot of success using grunt tubes and rattling. These I generally use only the rut though. About the end of October here in Ohio we can start using them. A grunt tube is also useful other times to attract or stop a deer long enough to get a shot. However sometimes they get absolutely no reaction from the deer at all.

I've hunted 13 states,mostly in the Northeast & Southeast.But I think whitetail bucks respond to calls no matter which state your hunting in,if the timing is right for the rut.I've tried a lot of doe bleat & grunt calls.Don't call too often & be patient.I sometimes use a rattling box.I've use rattling antlers( real & commercially made)& rattling bags.Can't forget about deer scents.But keep it simple.I use THE CAN Doe bleat,Along with 2 different sounding grunt tubes.Rattling box.Tink's 69 doe- in- heat scent.I usually set up in good cover.Use THE CAN A couple times,Then grunt tubes a couple times each.Wait a few minutes,if nothing happens I might use rattling box sparingly.I sometimes don't use any calls till 9 am or so then pull out doe bleat& grunt tube.Hit a few notes ,wait a few minutes & repeat.I ve seen bucks come alone,I've seen them come in with 2 or 3 does,& sometimes with other bucks FUN you bet!So be patient,experiment with different methods &calls.You never know what is coming to your next call In Indiana or anywhere you may hunt. What works in Michigan should work in Indiana.Good Luck & have fun! AL
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I've called in bucks using a grunt tube and a can call. The last 3 years I've used one or both to fill my tags. I have had almost no luck using horns and don't even carry them any more. I think most areas in Indiana have such an imballanced buck / doe ratio that rattling is not going to be very effiective. I also believe given the property you hunt has a lot to do with how effective ANY form of hunting is going to be. If the land you hunt sees a lot of bowhunting pressure and every one uses Tink 69, the bucks are going to learn real quick to associate Tinks 69 with humans. Same with calling and rattling and treestands and......

Nothing wrong with Tinks, just using it as an example.

Dont over rattle, rattling too hard or too loud will scare off smaller bucks. The method I have used that works is just lightly ticking the antlers together. This will bring in smaller, curious bucks and if a big buck is around he will come in just to run the smaller ones off. Works for me.
I've been using grunt calls and bleat calls for 3 years now. I have had most success with the bleat call, also called a "doe in heat bawl". Two years ago I called a buck to within 10 yards of me. Only thing was, I never saw him until he was only 10 yards away, and he was standing behind a tree. I could only see his shadow being cast on the ground. He got a wiff of me I guess, and turned a 180 and went away the way he came, perfectly inline with the tree such that I had no shot from my blind.

I have learned something very important about using calls. The deer's hearing is like sonar, and they can pin point exactly where the sounds is coming from. So you had better be very well hid. You cannot allow your hands or movement seen when calling. That buck 2 years ago walked up to my blind as if walking a tight-rope, and I think he purposely kept that tree between himself and my blind. I only got a glimpse of his horns as he dissappeared about 50 yards away.

Last year I had a small buck run passed me about 40 yards away and I never would have got a shot. I made one bleat call and saw the buck turn towards me, but was hid behind a hill. I quickly got turned around and my gun up just in time as he came over the top of the hill and stood there looking at me. One shot through the heart made him mine. I never would have got a shot at him had it not been for the call.
-Dan- ;)
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there are many different calls and they all work, but where you'll be hunting they aren't as effective unless there's deer in the woods. I've lived and hunted around Winchester my whole life...which is close to where you'll be hunting. The woods are so spaced out and when the crops are off it's very hard to find deer because they seem to be scattered. You might get lucky and grunt one in if it's in the woods you're in and the timing is perfect like as been mentioned numerous times. Honestly after the crops are off the grunt and other calls work seldomly in the spaced out woods of Randolph county.
I love to rattle starting mid Oct. I am in NE Indiana. I like to start about then with soft ticking of antlers but not aggressively. I slowly up the aggresiveness of the rattling and grunting till the week of Halloween. At that time frame till a week after Halloween I rattle hard and grunt aggressively. I have been very successful in this time frame. This year a rattled in a solid 180 class buck but could not get him in close enough for a shot because a 140 class buck drew his attention. The 180 ran the 140 off and would not respond to the grunts I was giving. The 140 on the other hand came charging to me. I am a bow hunter at heart so I could not pass on the opportunity. I took the 140 and to this day I kinda wish I would have waited. I took my freind to the exact same spot the next day and was able to rattle in a 125 - 130 class buck. This buck came in so fast that my freind was caught off gaurd and not able to get the shot. He came to 10 yards out from his tree. My freind was busted in the tree and I was still able to stop the buck at 27 yards once more with a grunt but once again no shot.

I have several pictures of this years buck under the thread "what bow do you shoot"

I was afraid of spooking deer with rattling when I first started. Until you rattle in a good buck for the first time and see how aggressive he is you will probably be like me, a little worried. Trust me it works! But only if you use it at the right time. I have found the above general time frame to be the best for the areas I hunt. I will softly tick the antlers before and after this time. (I actually use a rattle bag). Grunting is a whole different story for later. I do simoultanious (oops) soft grunts while I rattle and it seems to help the effectiveness. I have tried it every way and time under the sun and this is what works best for me. Realize I am out for the big boy. I don't meat hunt until late gun or muzzleloader.Hope this helps you a little.

I am a trophy hunter so many of the things I do will bring in big bucks if they are in the area. For the average hunter, using doe bleats is your best chance to bring in the whole array of deer. I do not start with my antlers until the usual routine does have passed to the bedding area. In the afternoon I start with the antlers early (around 1 p.m.) in hopes to catch the attention of a buck searching. Not all areas are equal. I like to hunt large tracts with good cover areas where the deer can feel secure then I try to lure them out. Sorry so long winded but I love to hunt and have alot to say sometimes.
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That's a good post Aaron, very informative. I've been gonna try rattling, just never got around to it. Maybe next year's bow season I'll do it. I found out there is a pretty nice 9-point running around the area right in back of my house. I only own about 2 acres of the 4 acres on one side of the lake point, but I own the actual funnel area which leads to the other side of the water and a 40 acre woods. So far no one has even had a shot at this big boy, but folks have been seeing him.

With the right timing and technique, I might be able to lure this big boy into my area next year. I have a small valley too and am planning on planting some of that deer food stuff just to see if it helps any. The surrounding area is farm crops of usually soybeans, but sometimes corn.
-Dan- ;)
First couple of years I hunted the property that I have access to, calls seemed to work wonders! I fear I may have over used them however, this year calls have seemed to make no difference. Makes me wonder if the deer can actually become "educated" to the calls, so my thought is to use them early season, during the rut, but use them sparingly. Also, I've seen deer come in very nervous when lured with calls, I'd rather have them walk in near me and be relaxed, think that puts the odds more in my favor, at least that's what has worked for me this year.

Your set up sounds like mine here. I live on 8 acres in a valley with one acre pond and the rest woods. A creek runs right thru the middle leaving 3.5 acres on one side. This area is NO mans land. That little 3.5 acres is now one of the heaviest used funnels in this area after a little work. I bring freinds over that have no where to hunt. I let them hunt it, I just watch the deer here. Many nice bucks have come out of here because of a joint effort with many of the surrounding land owners on how to manage our deer.

By the way quaildancer you are right on on the calling. Use it sparingly especially if you only hunt one area.
works for me!

I've used the bleat and the grunt (mostly the grunt...Knight & Hales' EZ-grunt) successfully quite a few times the last couple of years down in southern Indiana (Orange/Crawford/Dubois counties). Most recently, right around the first of November of '06 (rut just kicking in), I had a nice 9-point run by me at 50 yards...I hit the grunt and he kept on motoring like he didn't even hear it, at least that's what I thought! As the buck ran into the thicket nearby, out came a nice doe and a little spike. Apparently ol' boy had been chasing this doe. I knew the 9-pointer was in the thicket by my stand, and I could hear him rustling and thrashing saplings in there. The little spike was walking with the doe about 12 yards from my stand, so I had the idea of hitting the grunt call ever so slightly trying to imitate the little spike acting like he was trying to hook-up with this doe. Man, did that stike a nerve in the 9-pointer...he came on a full tilt sprint out of that thicket and bodied right up next to the little spike! The little spike ran like crazy and the 9-point stood there grunting and showboating like he was the man! ...which he was 'till my Thunderhead 125gr found its mark right behind the shoulder! I've called several bucks into bow range with a grunt call...just varying the "intensity" on the call can really affect how different bucks react depending on if they're the dominant buck in the area, or one of the younger ones.
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Both of these bucks have came from rattling, you learn how to do it right (not over do it) and there isn't anything more deadly.

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Both of these bucks have came from rattling, you learn how to do it right (not over do it) and there isn't anything more deadly.

:bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: you win.... :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: adopt me!! haha

Great deer FR, can't say that enough....

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