Mistaken Identity


A Tip for Whitetail Deer Hunting

In this article I would like to make a point of how you can effectively use live deer as a decoy in your hunting efforts. I learned these lessons from observations I have made from hunting experiences. This knowledge is rarely gained from magazine articles, book or product sales reps but this the type of thing you must learn on your own that will assist you as a hunter in understanding the behaviors of whitetail deer.

In one hunting situation I was in an oak grove with a creek nearby. It was an ideal area to be able to see for some distance. That morning I began with a fawn bleat and used this twice in about 30 minutes until a doe and her fawn came into the sound. Once I saw them coming near, I switched to a doe bleat. She closed in to within 40 yards. I made another doe bleat after about 10 minutes, hoping this would attract a buck in the area. The doe was unconcerned with the bleat and continued to graze on vegetation. Within a short time, that is exactly what happened. The buck assumed that this doe was the one that had called. When he approached the doe, she quickly rejected him and he became very frustrated and would not give up on the situation. Until finally the doe stopped and urinated on the ground to show buck she was not in estrus. He sniffed things over and was then even more confused. Of course it was a case of mistaken identity, based on the fact that the buck did not get the welcome he expected. But the point is that all of the pieces of the puzzle had been there for him until he was proven wrong. As I patiently waited for the buck to move into an opening and give me a clear shot with my bow, I watched the situation play out. Soon he began to look around to see if another doe was near by. Still I had no shot. Eventually he slowly left with a disgruntled grunt. I, too, was frustrated, as there was not a clear shot for me to take on this respectable 8 point. But, it was a fantastic observation of communication between these whitetails.

On another hunt a few years ago, I was up on a tree stand on the edge of a field in middle of the afternoon. I had just been quietly sitting there waiting for the evening to set in, when a doe appeared and quickly moved to the center of the field as she intended to graze on the soybeans left after the harvest. I decided to use the same tactic as before and began to doe bleat. It only took about 10 minutes for the action to start. On this occasion I saw an average sized 8 point come up through a draw and quickly made ground to the center of the field. As he approached her, she began to run in a circle around him for some time, trying to avoid his advances. At one point the doe turned toward him with her head down and stopped, displaying an aggressive stance. He tried to circle her and she began to run again. Eventually she stopped. After some sniffing the buck quickly figured out that this doe was not in estrus. She went back to eating and he stood there looking around confused. Sniffing in other directions he began to circle the edge of the field, acting rejected and trying to solve the mystery. I then used a “doe bleat” again hoping the buck would begin to walk my direction as he circled the field, but he was not fooled. Finally he seemed to mope away slowly into the trees, so no shot with a bow was ever present.

  • There are a variety of points to be made here. One point is that deer react to sounds like a spider does to a fly in the spider web or like humans react to the cry of a child for help. They can’t ignore it. Deer calls work!
  • Another point to be made is that during pre-rut and rut, bucks are taken with visual stimulation before any other forms of enticement. Learn the patterns of the does and where their main food source is that they graze on. Having an actual doe in your area is better than trying to use a plastic decoy.
  • While hunting you may have to pass on taking a doe, in order to allow a buck to take interest in her. If you already have meat in the freezer, it can work to your advantage to be patient if you want to hold out for a buck to respond to the situation. Especially if the doe that is near you exhibits signs that she IS in estrus. These signs include frequent urinating; strutting as she walks slowly, with her tail out straight. Obviously not relaxed and eating but instead frequently looking into the trees and other areas around her. Bleating and responding to doe bleats by coming in closer to a “doe in estrus” bleat. Often other does that are in estrus will come into this call to see if other bucks are circling the area seeking a mate as well.

I hope you enjoy this article. Please write comments in the comment section of the Women Hunters page. You can also read other tips for whitetail deer hunting by going to my biography page and reading the articles at the bottom.

Wishing you the best of hunting,

Synthia Wilson