Whitetail Calling Tactics to Use Before the Rut

Whitetail Calling Tactics to Use Before the Rut
Many outdoor television show hosts, such as Harold Knight, have fine-tuned their pre-rut whitetail calling strategies to pull shooter bucks into bow range. You can do the same with just a little bit of practice. (Photo courtesy of Knight and Hale)

With the whitetail rut on the horizon, there are some must-know calling strategies to help coax a long-tined shooter buck into close range

Make no mistake; hitting the woods with a full arsenal of calling tactics can drastically increase your shot opportunities before the whitetail rut hits. Bowhunting is often a game of yards, sometimes even feet and inches, which is exactly why you need to pack your calls with you every single time you climb into your treestand or step inside of a ground-blind.

At the end of the day, your calls and calling strategies can be the difference between looking up tag-soup recipes and a reason to call your taxidermist. With that being said, let’s take an in-depth look at some proven calling tactics to help get the job done before peak rut.

Early-season Calling Tactics

In most hunting regions, the second or third week of October is when hunters will start seeing some major changes in mature buck behavior, patterns and daily activity. Factors such as increased hunting pressure, cooler temperatures, shortening days and alternating food sources are responsible for these activity and pattern shifts. Bucks will begin rubbing, scraping and sparring more in preparation for the upcoming rut. Choosing the right call and calling tactic is an absolute game-changer during this period.


Utilizing a combination of semi-aggressive grunting and short bursts of light to mid-intensity rattling sequences to simulate the sounds of two bucks sparring is highly effective. Bucks are becoming increasingly more territorial and will often lock antlers and engage in pushing matches to test each other and establish dominance. Sometimes these match-up bouts are extremely brief and not that intense in nature, but they also can turn into serious take-no-prisoner brawls.


The key is to start your calling sequences light to semi-aggressive and assess the current response, behavior and reaction of bucks. If this technique is not producing, gradually build the intensity and level of aggression of your calling to elicit a response. Your ability to accurately evaluate each hunting situation and match your calling tactics accordingly will ultimately determine your overall success during this period.




Late October, Early November Calling Strategies

Toward the end of October and early November, again depending on the region you hunt, mature bucks are really getting fired up, swelled up and ready to get the party started. Scraping and rubbing activity intensifies and dominant bucks are likely to fight like battle-tested gladiators in a UFC match. These lovesick brawlers are experiencing territorial emotions, raging hormones and increased testosterone levels. As a result, this is one of the best times of the entire season to apply aggressive calling strategies specifically designed to provoke agitation and invite confrontation among the biggest bullies in the woods.

Calling tactics that generate deep-toned grunts with serious bass, intense rattling sequences and assertive snort-wheeze vocalizations are money throughout this phase of the season. Hitting bucks with an aggressive series of two to three challenging grunts followed by a hardcore rattling sequence can really crank up the action in a hurry.


If you see a potential shooter out-of-range or traveling the opposite direction, try a loud sequence of grunts ending with an agitated snort-wheeze. I’ve watched bucks stop on a dime, bristle up, change directions and march straight to my stand all stiff-legged and mad with this calling technique.

Without question, the weeks ahead of the whitetail rut is one of the best times of the entire season to take a proactive approach and utilize calling to mess with a buck’s head. The right calling sequence is capable of grabbing a shooter’s attention, striking a nerve, and picking a fight. All of which are capable of pulling him in from a long distance or making him take those extra-few steps needed to close the deal.

Don’t sit idly by on the sideline and wait for something to happen. Instead rely on your calls and custom-matched calling strategies to make it happen on your terms.


Recommended for You

 Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

Perfect for competition or a day at the range. Other Hunting

New Gear: MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag

G&F Staff

Perfect for competition or a day at the range.

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

Mustad

Mustad's Inkvader Octopus Live Jig

From big fish to small, just about any saltwater game fish out there will love the new Mustad Inkvader Octopus Live Jig that Mustad's Russ Whisler shows to OSG's Lynn Burkhead.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

          From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

See More Stories

More Hunting How-To

If you want to bag big mid-fall bucks, find the oak trees where deer are feeding. Whitetail

Follow Falling Acorns to Find More Whitetails

Mike Marsh - October 28, 2019

If you want to bag big mid-fall bucks, find the oak trees where deer are feeding.

It's not over after the rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead. Whitetail

Make Late Season the Great Season

Mark Chesnut - November 20, 2019

It's not over after the rut, and your best whitetail hunting may still be ahead.

Always put safety first when hunting waterfowl. Waterfowl

Things to Keep You Alive this Duck Season

M.D. Johnson - November 28, 2019

Always put safety first when hunting waterfowl.

See More Hunting How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.