The Snort Wheeze – Does it really work?

If you’re anything like me you appreciate a good white-tail archery hunt on television. My Saturday mornings are often spent with a hot cup of coffee and a remote in hand. Being a die-hard archery hunter I prefer white-tail hunts over anything else. With that said, I do get frustrated with the unrealistic hunts. Many of todays shows make hunting look like an easy video game where rattling and grunting will always produce that trophy buck of a lifetime, sometimes even within minutes. I have to laugh at the TV because that is never the case for us “average Joes.” Many times hunting can be BRUTAL. However, due to good editing and certainly genetically freakish deer, these hunting shows can sometimes make it look disgustingly easy. I have spent countless hours on post grunting, bleeting, rattling, snort wheezing, and praying. All have had success in the past but one: the snort-wheeze. About six or seven years ago, I began to see calls for the snort-wheeze. I had seen it done on Tv and even tried it in the woods myself. I often wondered if this noise people claimed white-tails made was a hoax. To this day, I have yet to here a white-tail actually make that sound. Nevertheless I used the snort-wheeze out of desperation this past year on my perfect video game/television hunt. Five minutes later I had a twelve point Illinois giant on the ground. Before I get ahead of myself with my Illinois kill, lets first discuss what exactly a white-tail snort wheeze is all about.

White-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) communicate in a number of different ways. They acknowledge the existence of each other and maintain herd social order through sight, scent, and yes, even sounds. With that said, where does the snort wheeze fit into sound communication? It is the simplest yet most aggressive form of communication a white-tail buck can make. This is the buck basically saying “I’m as mad as I get and if you want a piece of me, bring it”. It’s his fight call and when is a better time to agitate a big old buck but when he’s already on edge looking for hot does in the rut? As with any deer call made by a hunter, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It all just depends on your situation. There are times when I’m in the woods and call every ten minutes. There are also times when I don’t call at all. It all depends on the day and mood I’m in. Unlike grunting and bleating, I have never snort-wheezed out of the blue when deer aren’t in sight.

How often have I tried the snort-wheeze? One or two times. If I saw a big buck and knew he wasn’t coming my way. Out of desperation, I’d try it. I’ve thrown everything at a deer but the “kitchen sink” one time or another getting him to try and change his path a little closer to my arrows range. This past fall a situation occurred while hunting bucks in Illinois which caused me to give a white-tail all I had in my “bag” of vocal tricks, including and ending with a snort-wheeze.

The first morning brought excitement and action very quickly. Immediately after the sun came up I noticed a good shooter buck in the CRP I was hunting adjacent to. The deer was walking parallel to where I sat. After realizing he may not walk my way I decided to bring out my doe bleat and hit it twice. The buck heard the call and made a sharp left turn in my direction cutting the distance from 125 yards to 75. He stopped, still looking my way. Not being interested enough, he turned completely around and headed toward his original destination. I then let go of two grunts. His rear end now facing me, he stopped and looked over his left shoulder for a moment then continued on his merry way. At that moment I thought to myself “I have nothing to lose, let’s give this magic, professional television hunter call a try.” I put my hand up to my mouth and let go of a “phhhhhhh tttttaa taaphhhhh” and wouldn’t you know it worked! The buck did a complete 180 degree turn and came in on a string, not stopping once! I arrowed him at twenty-five yards and was in complete shock with what just happened.
As you could imagine the snort-wheeze quickly became my friend. It’s certainly a call that when used in the right situation proves deadly. It’s just impossible to tell what situation that may be. It all depends on the mood of a certain deer and I just happened to catch it in the right mood. I wouldn’t use the snort-wheeze on a regular basis like you would a grunt or a bleat, but I wouldn’t hesitate to try it when all else fails and you have nothing to lose.

Chris Higdon

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