The Sounds Deer Make

By Joe MartinoJuly 23rd, 2021

Despite what some hunters think, deer are vocal. At times, they are very vocal. They communicate with a variety of sounds throughout the year.

For many hunters, the alarm snort is the only sound they’ve ever heard. However, there are far more sounds that make up the deer vocabulary. Here’s a quick list of the sounds deer make and what they mean.

Deer Vocabulary: Sounds Deer Make And What They Mean
Do you know the sounds deer make?

Doe Bleats

Does will bleat to maintain contact with their fawns, to let them know where she is, or that it’s time to nurse.

Fawn Mew

The softest of all calls, fawns will often mew while they are nursing.  It is similar to when a baby coos.

Fawn Bleats

When a fawn wants attention, or is lost from its mother, it will bleat as a way of trying to reconnect with her.

Distress Bawl

All deer make distress bawls; bucks, does, and fawns. They do this when they are in distress or danger.  A fawn distress bawl can be a good call to use in the early archery season if you want to call in a doe.

Grunts

Grunts can be made by both bucks and does, but their sound, tone and meanings can be quite different.  A doe will softly grunt in order to stay in touch with her fawns and letting them know it’s time to nurse.

When a buck grunts, it can be a tending grunt, in order to check the breeding status of a doe, or a more aggressive grunt meant to get a response or reaction from another deer, be it a buck or a doe.

Deer Vocabulary: Sounds Deer Make And What They Mean
The deer grunt is the standard call hunters typically use, but do you know the different types of grunts?

The tending grunt is a much softer, less aggressive sounding grunt than a contact grunt.

Grunts are great calls for fall hunting, just be sure to understand how to make each type of grunt and what they mean.

Estrus Bleat

This is the sound a doe makes when she is ready to breed.  Does only use this call a couple weeks out of the year, and it is rare to hear.  During the pre-rut, it can call in bucks quite well.

Snort

Deer snort as a response to anything that annoys them or makes them uncomfortable with their surroundings.  Most hunters have heard this sound as they’ve bumped and spooked deer on the way in and out of the stand. 

Deer Vocabulary: Sounds Deer Make And What They Mean
The snort-wheeze and buck roar are sounds bucks use when they mean business.

Snort-Wheeze

This is an aggressive call that bucks make to one another when tensions get heated prior to coming to blows. A buck will make this sound as he is circling an opponent, or on the approach to another buck in an effort to get him to back off.

Buck Roar

The buck roar is a sound that bucks make when they are at the height of aggression or frustration.  It is a buck grunt on steroids, which starts out as an aggressive grunt that quickly and sharply turns into an almost roaring scream. Thus the name, roar.

Conclusion

What about you? What are some of the deer sounds you’ve heard while in the woods? 

What calls do you rely on the most while hunting? Comment below and let us know what you think. 

Joe Martino
Media Contact at River Cleanup conservation group
Joe is a true outdoorsman who writes articles based on his experiences and knowledge of fishing, hunting, trapping and conservation. While Joe does occasionally fish and hunt throughout the country, many of his experiences come from pursuing the great outdoors throughout the Midwest.
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