11 Whitetail Deer Sounds: Learn to Imitate and Understand Deer Calls

Imitating deer calls is one of the most trusted hunting techniques to bring hunters success over the years. We listed the most common whitetail deer sounds, what they mean, and when to use them in this comprehensive article!

Types of Calls

Deer, particularly whitetails, are very vocal creatures. Every sound they produce means something, whether it’s a social call or a mating call. Knowing what these sounds mean and when to use them are critical for a successful hunt. 

You could spend a lifetime hunting and not hear all of these since some of these situations are so rare and difficult to observe. In some cases, remote cameras and behavior in captivity have helped us understand the various vocalizations and when they’re used.

That said, let’s talk about them one by one.

Calls Used By All Deer

Snort Wheeze Call

The snort wheeze is the most aggressive among all the deer calls. It actually sounds like a grunt-snort-wheeze and is done at the end of a grunt sequence. Any deer, especially bucks, gets irritated upon hearing this call so it’s very effective in getting their attention. However, the snort wheeze is rarely used or is used as a last resort because of the danger that comes with it. 

Calls Used By Mature Bucks

Buck Grunt Call

The buck grunt call is most effective during the fall months and breeding season. During this time, bucks often challenge each other and are more aggressive in chasing does. Older and bigger bucks have deeper-pitched grunts.

Trailing Grunt

The trailing grunt is used by a buck when asking an estrus doe to mate. It’s a grunt sequence that’s soft and muffled and is done in rhythm with every step the buck takes. When doing a trailing grunt, the buck may sound out of breath. The trailing grunt is most effective during rut season and can be used for long periods of time as does get pursued by bucks for days.

Tending Grunt

The tending grunt is a low-pitched but aggressive grunt used by a buck when pursuing an estrus doe or once it cornered a doe and is ready to mate. This deer call usually comes after a trailing grunt. It signifies dominance and serves as a warning to other bucks to keep their distance. A tending grunt starts low, gets higher in the middle, then gradually subsides as the call ends. It’s best done during peak rut and after a trailing grunt.

Buck Bawl

The buck bawl is another social communication call among whitetail deer. It is used by a buck whenever he wants company or wants to socialize. It’s a series of buck bleats that sounds like a calf bawl.

Rage Grunt

The rage grunt is a non-aggressive call made by a buck expressing his frustration when the estrus doe stopped running but still doesn’t want to breed. 

Social Grunt/Contact Call

A social grunt or contact call is, as the name implies, a sound made by a full-grown deer to call for other deer in the vicinity. It’s a series of two to four notes that are friendly-sounding. This is the equivalent of “Hello” or “Hi” to humans.

Calls Used By Doe

Does are more vocal than bucks, here are the types of calls does usually make.

Doe Bleat

The doe bleat is used all year long as a social communication call. However, during the estrus cycle, doe bleats sound different. Doe bleats during the estrus season signifies the doe’s readiness to mate. Hunters can use the doe bleat anytime and it’s effective all season long.

Doe Grunt

The doe grunt means the same as the buck grunt but with a higher pitch. It’s usually used by does to call their young.

Estrus Bleat

The estrus bleat is made by does to signal bucks that their breeding time is near. This deer call works best pre-rut.

Breeding Bellow

The breeding bellow is made by does to indicate that she is ready to breed at the exact moment the call was made.

Whitetail Deer Fawn Sounds

Fawn Bleat

A fawn bleat resembles that of a high-pitched squeal. Fawns usually make this sound to get the doe’s attention whenever they’re hungry, in danger, or lost. As the fawn matures, this bleat deepens and starts to sound more like the social grunt we discussed earlier.

It’s rarely done but we can imitate a fawn bleat if we want to target a doe. Does have strong maternal instincts, so they won’t hesitate to help a fawn calling for help, even if it’s not their own.

Here’s a video with some of the deer calls above (dominant buck grunt, tending buck, doe bleat, estrus doe bleat, and fawn bleat) to give you an idea.

Artificial Deer Calls for Hunters

Gone were the days when hunters have to wait for hours to catch deer with no movement or sound. Thanks to artificial deer calls, hunters can have all kinds of deer come to them. Be sure to check your local laws on the legality of some types of calls such as electronic calls before heading into the woods.

Here are the types of artificial deer calls you can use.

Grunt Tube

Grunt tubes are perfect for calling in mature bucks. They’re best used once you’ve already spotted a buck. Grunt periodically every 15 to 20 minutes to give the buck some time to come closer.

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The Buck Commander Deer Grunt Call Hunting Accessories and Gear
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Primos Still Grunter Call
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Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rattling Antlers/Rattle Bag

Rattling antlers imitate the sound of two bucks clashing and connecting horns when fighting over a territory or a doe. A rattling antler should be loud and realistic enough to draw out a deer effectively. You can use either real antlers or synthetic ones.

They are most effective in areas with high buck-to-doe ratios where conflict between bucks over does is much more common.

For real antlers, large sets are most effective during rut season, while small ones are ideal during pre-rut. One disadvantage of using real antlers is that they can inflict wounds or tears on your hands. Synthetic antlers are more expensive than real ones, but they produce more consistent sounds.

“Initial rattling should be of low volume and only last 10 to 20 seconds. Wait a couple of minutes and if nothing shows, jump into a more intense one to two-minute sequence and wait at least 20 minutes before rattling again to give distant bucks time to make their way to you. When rattling right off a key bedding area, where a deer is apt to stand up within eyesight, keep sequences shorter, rattling 20 to 30 seconds at a time every four or five minutes—building up the intensity with each new effort.” https://www.americanhunter.org/content/how-to-rattle-in-deer-the-right-way/

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Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Electronic Calls

Electronic deer calls are more advanced and easier to use than manual ones. They can also produce wider varieties of deer vocalizations. Electronic calls are battery-powered and produce more accurate and authentic sounds. Some models generate sounds with the push of a button, while others can be operated via remote control so you can place the device away from you. One downside of electronic deer calls is that they’re expensive. Also, they aren’t always legal, so be sure to check on the regs in your area first.

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Doe Call/Estrus Bleat Call

Doe calls and estrus bleat calls are used to call in bucks during the late pre-rut and rut period. They’re most effective when paired with some doe estrous urine set on your hunting tree stand for a more authentic presentation. When using this combination, be sure to eliminate any scent that could overpower the urine as this would dissuade bucks.

5 Best Calls for Deer Hunting

Illusion Systems Extinguisher Deer Call

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Illusion Systems Extinguisher is easily adjustable to sound like a fawn, a doe, or a buck. This deer call also comes with a free Deer Society Mobile app that features instructional videos on how to communicate with deer.

Many customers have sworn to have gotten a deer or two during their first use of the Extinguisher. That’s because Illusion Systems used a dual-layered acoustic technology that supports directional calling and generates realistic sounds for this deer call.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Freeze-Free Design
  • Effective on all types of deer habitat
  • Comes with a 30-day Satisfaction Warran

Cons

  • Doesn’t perform well in cold weather

What Customers Say

“I harvested an 8 pointer after using this thing alternating between deep buck grunts and doe in estrous bleats after an 1 and 45 minutes. AND I had really no idea how to use it AND was using it backwards (Inhaling on the black hose). I only realized this after watching the DVD (and it was tough to view as I was unable to switch between chapters). Bottom line is it pulled that buck in from the woods to about 60 yards away. Bad: Using the fawn cry can be rough as it sometimes squeals and no instructions as to how to attach lanyard and what to do with that spring that comes with it.”

RH

“Most things I read and try in deer calls are okay at best. This thing is legit. It’s the first one I’ve tried that actually brought deer in so far. The video does a fantastic job of giving scenarios and responses to properly use the call. Nothing short of happy to have this call!”

Wilbur Scott

Nationwide Scents Deer Call for Hunting

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This deer call from Nationwide Scents allows the user to easily select sounds (rutting buck grunt, young buck call, breeding buck, estrus doe bleat, regular doe bleat, and fawn bleat) by sliding the rubber O-ring up and down the reed. The volume is also easily adjustable from low to high by covering the hole with your finger.

The Nationwide Scents deer call features an extra-long tube that produces realistic throaty grunts and has a higher volume than other deer call brands.

Pros

  • Great craftsmanship
  • Works well in cold weather
  • Comes with instructions and a lanyard

Cons

  • It costs more than other brands
  • The o-rings wear out quickly

What Customers Say

“Just purchased and fell in love with it immediately! Excellent craftsmanship, perfect size, and sound are better than any other call I’ve ever used. It’s a little pricey but you get what you pay for. I often spend a few hundred dollars per year not to mention many hours of scouting and prepping for the upcoming season so this was a must-have.”

Christopher Mugnano

“The call sounds realistic and more believable than cheaper calls. Rattle bag, simple and works. Good customer service as well”

Dan

Primos Hunting Deer Call

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Revolver is one of the most versatile deer calls from Primos. It allows the user to select from a wide range of bleats and grunts. You can easily switch from fawn bleat, doe bleat, doe grunt, young buck, to a mature buck grunt with a simple turn of the revolving center dial. 

The Revolver allows you to use different kinds of deer calls consecutively and combine them when needed. For example, doing a buck grunt after doing an estrus bleat is more effective in catching deer. This deer call is also made from a durable rubberized plastic material so it doesn’t make noise whenever it gets bumped.

Pros

  • Loud
  • Comes with a neck strap

Cons

  • It can’t be used in cold weather
  • The revolving knob gets stuck easily

What Customers Say

“This call really does work. Using the estrus bleat setting I was able to call this nice buck in close. Now I just have to work on my accuracy. Next season!”

JohnnyV

“Great call. Had a call that just wouldn’t give me the sound i was wanting. This call is perfect. Even if you really don’t know how to use it it still sounds like a deer.”

Timothy

Primos The Can Estrus Bleats

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Can only produces estrus bleats so it’s perfect for calling bucks during rut season. It features an elevated thumb hole locator that guarantees consistent sound.

You also have the option to tip the can over or blow through it to create a sound. Most reviewers said that blowing through it and producing short bleats is more effective than flipping it over. 

The internal mechanism of The Can tends to stick when not used after a long time, so we suggest gently shaking it before going on a hunt if you haven’t used it in a while.

Pros

  • Small and easy to carry
  • Easy to use
  • Simple design
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Prone to accidental calling when tipped in pocket or bag

What Customers Say

“It’s hard to test this when you received it after hunting season. However, I watched a few deer walking up the hill from my house. As they strolled out of my sight, I pulled out the call and rolled it a few times. Two of the larger deer came charging back down the hill to look. ( this was in late December and not during any rut ). So do I think it will work? Yeah, it will be with me in 2019 on my next hunting adventure.”

Don

“This brought a ruttin buck in from 200 yards. He had to cross a creek to get to me. Hit it 3 times and he started coming. Then once every time he stopped or started going the wrong way. He came right up to my stand!”

Robbin

Flextone The Headhunter Deer Lure

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Headhunter can generate fawn bleats, doe bleats, doe grunts, young buck grunts, and mature buck grunts. It features a corrugated rubber hose for producing variable and more realistic sounds through a simple squeeze. It also comes with a snort-wheeze chamber that allows you to catch a dominant buck in the area.

The Headhunter is equipped with a slider button that lets the user switch between different deer calls with one hand. The slider button is also constructed so that ice build-ups along the reed are prevented. 

Pros

  • Freeze-resistant design
  • Comes with nylon lanyard
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Snort-wheeze isn’t loud enough

What Customers Say

“The grunt sounds are realistic and plenty loud enough. Very easy to use and looks pretty darn neat to. The addition of the snort wheeze is a big plus too. The rubber tube can be used to grunt in different directions without having to move around a lot. I recommend it!!”

Chris

“I just received this so I can’t speak to the durability of it (but it seems well made). I can speak to the ease of use and great sound you get from the call. It’s easy to control the volume and tone, which can be challenging with other reed calls. The tube allows for fluctuation in calling which makes it sounds more realistic. Very impressed!”

JK

FAQs

What sounds do whitetail bucks make?

Whitetail bucks make these sounds – trailing grunt, tending grunt, buck bawl, rage grunt, and social grunt. Read the rest of our article to know what these deer calls mean.

Why do deer make a screaming sound?

Deers scream when they sense danger or when they’re in pain.

What sound does a doe make?

Does make these sounds – doe bleat, doe grunt, estrus bleat, and breeding bellow. To know what these sounds mean, read our descriptions above.

What sound attracts bucks the most?

During the rut, mature bucks get attracted to doe bleats, doe grunts, and estrus bleats the most. Be sure to use these deer calls sparingly because you don’t know when a deer is within range.

Conclusion

No matter which deer call you decide to use from our list above, it’s good to know what they all are and how they’re used! Just remember that when used improperly or at the wrong time, deer calls can scare deer away. Hunt safe and enjoy!

Now that you know how to call in the big bucks, it’s time to master catching them with our article about bow hunting!

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