Fallow Deer Rut - How do you Call a Fallow Buck?

With the Fallow Rut fast approaching Charly Green gives some hints on how to call in a Fallow Buck. 

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Living and working in the New Forest as a professional deer stalker and sporting agent I have been privileged to have unlimited access to what is widely regarded as the best free range Fallow deer area in the UK if not the world. The New Forest represents a fantastic opportunity for all to experience the Fallow rut at close hand either as a casual observer on Crown land or through paid stalking on one of the few privately held estates within the National park. Many things can be learnt about the stalking of this deer species by observation alone, and the rutting activity has to be the most interesting of all.

Many people have asked me about my techniques with Fallow in the past and a high percentage are amazed to hear that it`s possible to call a fallow buck during the rut. It`s true you won`t get the same bold reaction to a call that you might expect from an amorous Roe or Muntjac and this is largely due to the particular way in which Fallow deer rut. With Fallow the buck takes up a stand which he vigorously defends from rivals whilst groaning regularly to attract any does in oestrous to him. Once a buck has chosen a stand he rarely leaves it which makes simulated calling very challenging.

A recent study of the Fallow deer mating activity revealed that there may well be some link between the frequency and pitch of a groan that gives an interested doe or defensive buck some indication of the physical size and dominance of the calling buck. This could be the key to success or failure of imitated calling because the resident buck would need to associate the call with a fight worth taking on in order for him to move off his stand and defend the area. Lesser bucks making higher pitched calls may well be treated with disdain, as may bucks judged to be of a better class.

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(Above: Get your calling right and you could grass yourself a superb trophy)

So what equipment will you need? Aside from your usual stalking kit there are a few things you may wish to consider adding the next time you tackle Fallow in the rut. A face veil can be extremely useful, especially when approaching an area where a few bucks have established stands, there will be many pairs of eyes in the vicinity ready to give the game away. There are a few different grunt or groan calls on the market today. Most of these originate in the states where they are employed for Whitetail hunting. Practice with these calls is essential to master a good solid groan; you can use a recording of some form to ensure a good imitation. It is also possible to recreate the groans with the mouth and throat, again practice makes perfect and expect some funny looks from your family whilst you work it out! The last item is a pair of cast antlers used to simulate the sound of a fight in progress which may draw an animal expecting to see two well matched opponents sparring in his patch.

The first step to calling bucks is to identify the location of their rutting stands. You may ask why if I know where they are can`t I just stalk in and take the shot? This is where it gets tricky trying to account for a buck in the rut. He tends to have a large amount of satellite activity about him in the form of interested does and lesser males milling about ready to give the game away. It`s not until you have successfully stalked to within shot of the rutting stand that your call can be of any assistance. If you observe a Fallow buck rutting (there are many excellent videos on YouTube of this activity) you will see that he rarely stops moving around his stand and periodically lays down to rest, on occasion continuing to groan throughout. This makes locating the animal easy but clean shots are rarely presented and those that are can be fleeting at best.

Now we employ the call to our advantage in the hope of either drawing the buck closer, making him stand or just to stop him for long enough to take a good clean shot. As a buck may approach from any angle you will need to have eyes in the back of your head! Before you call try to select an area which affords good vision all round and most importantly good backstops to allow a variety of safe shots. Every now and then you will encounter a very aggressive buck so don`t be surprised if you have quite a close encounter. As with any form of calling you need to ready at all times if the opportunity arises to take a safe shot.

This is all assuming you are after a master buck. Last year I was able to use a call and an antler rattle to attract two curious youngsters that were milling around the outskirts of a rutting stand. When you have a cull to achieve any ethical method which yields success is an important tool to the professional and recreational stalker alike. I stalk a lot of Fallow and have observed them for many years. Calling yields mixed results but is a fantastic addition to any stalkers repertoire. I don`t often carry a call with me but I can make a passable groan with my mouth which has saved the day a few times. Have a go yourself you never know it may one day mean the difference between a blank stalk or the buck of a lifetime.

Charly Green can be contacted at: www.shavesgreen.com 07706 395979 or 02380 282941

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