Why does calling work so well on TV, but not in my neck of the woods?
QUESTION: What (and when) are the best calls for New England deer? I watch TV, and they are always hunting somewhere that deer are plentiful. They use rattles, bleats and grunts, and it seems like deer just come running in from all over the place. What are the best techniques for scarce deer? I have had them circle around and come in to a grunt here in Massachusetts, but never on a cold call. They have always been spotted already. Usually I only use the grunt to stop them. Any tips? — Bill B.
ANSWER: TV and videos can be misleading, and I don’t think it’s intentional — it’s just the nature of the business. The hosts try to put as much action as possible into their allotted time to make it interesting. Viewers often fail to realize that it often takes the TV hunters a week or more of hunting to produce 18 minutes of quality video.
The same applies to calling. TV shows show when a deer reacts positively to calling, which might only be one out of a dozen or more times the hunters called or rattled. I’d say one out of 12 would be a pretty good average anywhere. You are right that TV hunters typically hunt where deer are plentiful. They have to if they want to make their work cost effective.
What you’re experiencing is more a factor of deer density than geography. If deer are present, the same calls could potentially work just as well in Maine or Massachusetts as in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas or Texas. You just don’t have nearly the same opportunities to test them. As an outdoor writer, I have a chance to hunt places like these on a regular basis. I use the same calls in the same way as I do back home in Maine, and my success rates increase in direct relation to the deer densities. As for which calls and when to use them, that could be a full feature article, so I suggest you consult the pages of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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