Maybe it's because I've mostly hunted woods. Maybe it's because I've only used them sparingly . Maybe I've been doing it wrong. Maybe I just never used it at the right time.
I'm not sure.
I do know however, I will never underestimate the power of a grunt call again.
It was one of the most exciting hunts I've been on in a long while. And it has sold me .
The evening before, I sat in the popup blind with my wife. We saw good deer action. The bucks were chasing the does. We were close, but didn't get a good shot opportunity. The buck action and doe chasing we witnessed though, gave me reason to set my alarm and head out early before light the next morning.
Arriving an hour before legal shooting light, I was still able to make deer out in the field. I picked the downwind wood-line and headed in. Ghosting in past the deer from about 100 yards.
Once in the popup blind, I hoped I was able to sneak in without spooking the deer. As light began to slowly creep over my view, I was able to see 5 or 6 deer.
One looked bigger and darker. Without really seeing any bone, I knew it was a buck. It was harassing the does relentlessly.
I decided to just watch the show, although I did dig out my grunt call and bleat can. This buck, if nothing else was persistent. After 20 minutes of watching the show, I tried the grunt call. I gave one long grunt, followed closely with a short but louder grunt.
The buck spun his head around as if on a swivel and quite literally charged towards the blind for 20 yards. He stopped and looked around the field, seeing nothing, he began to come close, albeit more cautiously that the first 20 yards. He came steady from about 150 yards right into 30 or so.
I grabbed the widow and prepared for an opportunity. I was all but at full draw. I dared not even stare directly at him. I more was looking at the ground while casting my eyes upwards, just enough to keep him in sight. I could see the broadhead tipped arrow shaking slightly as the anticipation grew. And grew.
At some point, perhaps 5 minutes into the standoff, a lone doe drifted into my peripheral vision. The rutty buck saw her too and took off in hot pursuit. I released the death grip I had on the bow and took a deep breath.
He followed her around the field as she fed. Unlike some of the deer, she didn't seem bothered by his advancements. Perhaps because of her size. She was a huge old girl. He just kept about a 10 foot barrier from her, but he doggedly followed her where ever she went.
When I determined she was not coming my way, I reached for the grunt call again. This time I gave one long grunt. The buck just about snapped his neck to spin around and look my way. But he stayed put.
The next call, I turned slowly away from the him and gave two shorter grunts in the hopes of sounding farther away and making the "other" buck appear to be out of sight. Again, he came steady towards me. Walk 20 yards and stop and look. Repeat. It took him 10 minutes or so to make his way into recurve range. At around the 30 yard mark, I slid my fingers onto the string with the familiar 3 finger under grip. Right around then, 2 more does popped out of the woods. They were new does and they had his attention. He trotted over towards them. This appeared to be too aggressive for them, and after a quick chase in the open, they headed back towards the woods. The buck followed.
Once out of sight, I knew they were not far, as I could here grunts and bleats just inside the woods. I picked up the grunt and gave 3 loud calls. I'm not sure it was related or not, but the grunts and bleat increased just out of sight.
Just when I began to get that nagging little doubt that the buck was not going to give me another chance, I grabbed the grunt almost as a hail Mary and gave two loud ( very loud) grunts. Not a minute later the buck literally burst out of the woods but at 200 odd yards.
He gave chase to a doe and fawns that were there. It was clear to me, this young buck was in a state of rut that made him vulnerable. I reached for the grunt call again. One loud grunt and he looked my way. Another and he began to walk.
I'm not sure, but this time his mood seemed different. Almost as if ( total guess on my part though) he was sick of hearing this other buck and was either coming in to run him off or have a look to ensure he wasn't about to get his butt kicked. My recollection was that he came in with head up but ears pinned back.
I'm not sure how many times but 3 or 4 times when he would stop, I would grunt and he would resume his advancement . The direct link to the call was obvious. It was beyond exciting and I wished I had a camera rolling. At one point, he stopped and gave a an overhanging branch a good thrashing. My heart was pounding. My heart was full. It's moments like this that we all live for. I'm sure I'm not alone.
I'm gonna say when he was at 40 yards ( I say this, because typically, this is when I get into shooting position) I noticed a doe right in front of the blind. Well sir, with an already excited buck, chasing does, and feeling his oats enough to come challenge another buck , the new doe was more than he could handle.
He passed the 30 yard mark. He went to my left, I think to approach the doe from behind. I had my bow arm extended and good pressure on the string. He paced back and forth 2 or 3 times. The fourth time he was under 20. This made the doe nervous and she moved to my right. The young buck followed, sniffing her tracks like a good bird dog on a rooster's trail.
As odd as it sounds, almost unexpectedly , he was broadside and in trad bow range.
Instinctively I began to draw the bow back. It felt like my fingers would never reach their intended anchor at the corner of my mouth. But somehow they did. Somehow the buck was still there.
The next few seconds are a blur to be honest. I don't remember the release. I didn't see the arrow fly. I do however, remember hearing the thunk.
Did I mention how hard it was raining? I normally wouldn't have bowhunted in that downpour. But I was in a popup so I decided to stay. But the track job and bowhunting in the rain are fodder for another story.
The point of this little tale was more how a grunt tube can work ! I know I'll never not have one in my pack from this day forward. It was rewarding, heart pounding and nerve racking all at the same time. I'm eager to get back out and try it again. I do think timing is everything. And right now, right before the peak of the rut may be the time to give one a try.
While I'm happy with any trad bow buck, some I'm just a little more proud of. I'm pretty sure there is a direct connection to the excitement experienced. I can say for sure, this was one was jam pack with adventure. I'll remember this hunt and buck for a long time.
I'd love to hear your grunt tales.....