Lessons From Mark Drury…
Sometimes it’s time to get dirty and make noise like you want to kick somebody’s butt. During the rut, there is a time to put away the subtle calls and get aggressive. A mature buck will not deal with another buck trying to steal his doe. The mentality at this time of year is different than any other.
Earlier this year I used the snort-wheeze after bumping a buck out of his bed. Within seconds he came charging back like he was the ‘King Of The Hill.’ After talking about this experience with a few friends I realized that many hunters don’t get aggressive. Many of my hunting friends are afraid that calling in Michigan will not work like it does in other Midwest states. Although our herd dynamics are often not 1:1 and we don’t have mature bucks behind every tree, aggressive calling works here in Michigan.
Most of these calls are only heard during the short period during the rut. And even in the most heavily hunted area’s hunters don’t use or understand the sounds. Become the first kid on the block getting aggressive and call in those tough bucks. Like many of us macho guys, if someone challenges us were going to react or at least check out the fight. These calls key in on that reaction, the aggressive streak, and an instinct to come running in.
Mark Drury from Drury Outdoors understands these calling techniques better than anyone else. These hunters were the first guys to produce calls like the clicking grunt and buck growl. The information he provides us will give you the insight on what works best. Getting down and dirty will give you an advantage to striking the aggressive cord in mature bucks.
Each whitetail deer has a different personality just like humans. Some bucks are aggressive in nature and come running into a fight while others would rather pass. Understanding their mood and personality is a very important part of successful calling.
Mark says, “Bucks wear their armor on their face.” He will look at a buck’s face and those who are beat up, scarred, and have broken tines are those aggressive deer. The pretty boys are passive whitetails. When he encounters a passive whitetail, he’ll put away the calls and wait for another day. There no reason giving away your location to a buck that will not respond.
Getting aggressive is best done throughout the different rut periods; from the end of October through Thanksgiving. This encompasses an entire month of hunting with stretches of both bow hunting and gun hunting seasons. Although calling is a technique that Mark loves to use there needs to be some common sense applied. The right time and place is vital so you do not mess up the spot. Often Mark will call to whitetails he sees instead of blind calling. This allows him to bring a buck into him or change his direction. And it’s common for Mark to rattle 30 minutes before leaving the stand just to see if anything is in the area. But don’t call too much or that will tip off the buck to your game.
Knowing when to hold back and when to get aggressive comes with experience. But most whitetails will try to circle downwind. So if a deer is already downwind you might be better off waiting until another day. But if he is on your upwind side your chances for success skyrocket. These are little techniques that a life in the woods has taught Mark.
Buck to doe ratio is also a factor when calling. The worse the buck to doe ratio the lower your success will be when calling. Along the same vein, there are times when calling to a deer will cause a negative reaction. Sometimes a buck will walk away and other times he will run away. Mark believes when this happens it can be because there is another bigger whitetail in the area, the dynamics of the herd is poor, or the buck’s personality is passive and non-confrontational. Some deer are fighters from the day they are born. It doesn’t matter if they are a young buck; they are ready to fight.
Although getting aggressive is a great technique Mark primarily sets up to catch bucks on natural movement. You can’t just set up anywhere and expect calling to be the solution. Whitetails need to feel comfortable traveling to your location. Mark has killed four bucks over 190″ and two were taken because of natural movement, the other two where taken because of his calling. In essence, he has double his success on monster whitetails because he is not afraid to get rowdy.
Thinking about aggressive calling most hunters minds fall to rattling. But the Drury Team has discovered a whole array of sounds that each means something different: Rattling, clicking, snort-wheeze and the buck growl.
Although rattling first began in Texas it is now used across the United States. Even in the northern states with poor buck to doe ratios this works to a lesser degree. Aggressive rattling occurs when two bucks are battling for the right to breed a doe. Often two equal size animals are facing off but it brings in bucks of all sizes.
After rattling for 20-30 seconds Mark advises the hunters to get rid of the antlers and get prepared. There is nothing worse then having a pair of noisy antlers in your hands when a buck is approaching.
The clicking sound is something that Mark has only heard when there is an estrus doe in the area. He is so pumped up and in the moment. These are single syllable grunts. Click, click, click, click. Other bucks come in to investigate because they know another buck is chasing an estrus doe.
The snort-wheeze is made by both bucks and does during all seasons. During the rut it’s more aggressive because of the meaning. It’s a warning shot. One buck is telling another buck to get back or else! And commonly this is used when several bucks are chasing a doe in estrus. The snort-wheeze is a great call to use before a rattling sequence. The snort-wheeze is great to use before beginning a rattling sequence. I have also bumped bucks out of their bed and snort-wheezed bucks back into me. This could be deadly if you’re pushing a bedding area during gun season.
The buck growl is so aggressive that you’ll have every tough big old boy racing into the action. Mark said the difference is the growl is like yelling your name verses just saying it. It’s the most aggressive call on the market. This is one of the newest sounds the Drury Team developed. After hearing it in very aggressive situations it’s a call that I like to use. When it’s starting to get crazy during the rut there are many times you need to yell at a buck to get his attention. But it takes a buck in the right mood at the right time.
One of the most important insights I learned from Mark Drury is that every buck has a different mood and personality. Some bucks will never respond to aggressive calling while others are ready to fight. During the different phases of the rut getting aggressive will double your success. Get the right buck during those few peak weeks in the rut and you’ll likely be run over by bucks.