Hunters who would like to add more fun to their whitetail deer hunting might consider adding two items – binoculars and a whitetail deer call.
Binoculars are standard equipment for big-game hunters in the West, where the terrain and the whitetail deer make “glassing for game” an essential exercise. But in whitetail habitat the country is smaller and visibility often limited. Most hunters don’t believe they need binoculars when most whitetail deer and hunter encounters are within 50 yards. But binoculars can be used to see more than just long distances. They can help a hunter visually penetrate thickets, something difficult or impossible with the naked eye.
It takes a little practice, but with binoculars a hunter sitting outside a thicket can scrutinize it front to back by using the focus knob to blurr the outside edge and bring objects inside the thicket into focus. Progressively, he can scrutinize the whole thicket. He can also look through and beyond the thicket. Whitetail deer often lurk on the edge. Then by moving a few feet right or left the hunter can scan the thicket again and see whatever was obscured behind something on the first look.
Binoculars can change a person’s way of hunting. Most whitetail deer hunters move around too much. A hunter on the move isn’t really hunting. Whitetail deer are so in-tune with their habitat, and their eyes are so sensitive to movement that they almost always see the hunter before the hunter sees them.
In most encounters between whitetail deer and hunters,the whitetail deer spots the hunter first and moves quietly out of the way without being seen – without the hunter knowing it was there. With binoculars the hunter will spend time glassing the surroundings instead of walking around and sending the whitetail deer off onto the next farm. The person hunting with binoculars will see fewer whitetail deer bounding off and more standing around in or at the edge of thickets. And with binoculars, the hunter can give up the dangerous practice of scrutinizing distant objects with the rifle scope.
Some people find that extensive use of binoculars induces eye strain. This can be reduced by using them only while sitting or, at least, leaning against something to limit movement. Binoculars that are too powerful also increase strain. For hunting, experts recommend binoculars with no more than 8-power. Cheaper binoculars, too, can increase strain. Whitetail deer calls won’t revolutionize a person’s hunting but they can be a valuable, if minor, tool. And they can add a lot of fun.
Three kinds of whitetail deer calls are on the market: bleat, grunt and antler rattlers. The bleat, which imitates a sound made by a fawn, is regarded as useful only to early-season archery hunters, those out when there are lots of does with fawns around.
The grunt call imitates the low, gutteral “uhhhgh” made by all adult whitetail deer. Translated, it means “Hey, I’m here. What is your reaction to that?” Antler rattles, of course, imitate the noise made by bucks sparring violently.
Of the three, the grunt call is the most useful. If the hunter keeps it handy, he might get a chance to use it to stop a whitetail deer that is passing by too fast for a safe shot. Most hunters use a whistle or a shout to do that, but the grunt works better.
Another possible use is when the hunter knows a whitetail deer is nearby but can’t get it into view for a shot. In this situation, one low grunt is usually plenty. Sometimes the whitetail deer will come take a look. More often, though, it will maneuver to try to get a scent. Sometimes it will simply vanish. Sometimes, too, a grunt can stir up action at a time, in the middle of the day, when absolutely nothing is happening. In one way the grunt call is potent medicine, even though the sound it makes is so brief and muted that the hunter wonders if anything can hear it. Whitetail deer hear it, though, and are immediately alerted to the fact that something is there. With their incredible radar on, they don’t miss much – bad news for the hunter who is out in the open or moving.