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Grunting Up a Buck on Tennessee Public Land

Mike Ruebusch recently implemented grunting techniques he heard on The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast on some Tennessee public land and was able to take a nice buck with archery equipment! Take note of the woodsmanship in this success story.


Not only was Mike able to locate a good area, but he was also able to "read the woods" on his way in, tipping him off so he knew exactly when to stop and call. Mike says:


This is my second year hunting public land in Tennessee coming from private landing hunting my whole life. I Listened to Clifton Denny's first episode where he said he carries a grunt call in everywhere he goes and doesn’t try to sneak because deer make noise.
I blew deer out of this area when I found it first time in. Second time going into this spot I was unsure of a tree to setup in, so I knocked and arrow and snuck through the woods taking my time. I heard a squirrel barking up a ridge from me - I was down in a creek bottom and I grunted 2-3 in the direction of the barking squirrel and nothing happened.
So I let a few minutes go buy and I took a few more steps, then I heard a deer sprinting toward me. I drew back assuming it has to be a buck he came to 7 yards and almost ran me over. Shot him quartering to me and he piled up about 70 yards away. One of my best hunts ever and I’ve killed several deer bigger than this but my best public buck on a bow only WMA
- Mike Ruebusch

Sounds like a CRAZY hunt and the kind of hunt we all dream of having every fall! Nothing gets the blood flowing like a close up buck encounter with archery equipment.


I think there are two aspects to this story that really can make a difference for someone wanting to increase their odds in the deer woods. The first is Mike's patience in walking to his spot. Rather than barging in to the area to then try and quickly locate a tree to climb he instead chose to quietly still-hunt his way in, taking note of his surroundings.


This plays in to the second point - because Mike was aware of his surroundings he heard a squirrel barking. Lots of guests on the podcast talk about squirrels barking or birds fussing (particularly blue jays) as a giveaway that there are deer in the area. I must caviet this and say that just because a squirrel is barking does not mean he is barking at a deer, but there is always a chance. Mike capitalized on this chance and it happens there was a buck near the barking squirrel, and that detail made a big difference in this hunt!


The last thing I will point out is that Mike and Clifton are exactly right about deer making noise. When I was a new deer hunter in my teens I always stressed over the amount of noise I made walking to my stand. Some days I would sneak, painfully slow, to avoid making any noise at all. Other days I would crash through the woods walking at a normal pace. Going back and forth from one extreme to the other never worked for me - what did work was embracing the noise I made and trying to sound like another animal.


Yelping like a turkey while walking through the woods is my favorite way of masking my sound. I can still maintain a decent pace, and like me the wild turkey is two-legged, so our cadence is very similar. You can do the same thing by changing your walking cadence to sound like a deer. There are many ways to do this, such as using a walking stick to add a third footfall to your walking cadence. I recommend watching some youtube videos of deer walking around in leaf duff and figuring out the easiest way for you to mimic their cadence. No matter if you are trying to sound like a turkey or a deer it is very important to pause frequently. A deer or a turkey traveling through the woods may walk 40 yards, stop and look around for a minute or two, then keep going. Pausing frequently like this is an excellent way to not sound like a human walking through the woods and it has worked for me many times.


To listen to the episodes that helped Mike find some success bowhunting Tennessee public land, go listen to episodes 300 and 418 of The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast.

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