When (and How) to Use a Bleat Call to Stop a Buck

Because bleating at the wrong time can spook deer out of shooting range

Bowhunter in tree stand
Whoa, Boy: A bleat works best for halting aggresive bucks.Lance Krueger

Sometimes bleating to stop a moving deer can actually be disastrous, turning a makeable shot opportunity into a spooked buck bounding out of your life forever. Nobody is saying you should abandon the bleat call altogether, but you do need to learn to use it wisely. Here’s how to make the most of this ubiquitous call.

1. Bleat!

If your buck is in an aggressive mood, he’ll have his ears laid back and back hair erect, and he’ll be walking proudly. Some bucks are bullies, and you can usually tell from viewing trail-camera photos or firsthand observation. Your bleat won’t bother them a bit.

2. Don't Bleat!

If a buck comes slinking in and trying to look small, keep your mouth shut and wait for him to pause or slow on his own. Just as some bucks are aggressive, others are wimps and loners. Play it safe on deer like this.

3. Bleat Carefully!

On calm days, soften the volume of your bleat so you don’t startle a buck. On windy days, or when crunchy leaves make it difficult for cruising and chasing bucks to hear you, amp it up a bit.

4. or Yell!

I’ll try to stop any running buck I want to kill, even if I have to shout. I’ve got nothing to lose, and even if all I do is confuse him for a second, I’ve created a much better shot than I had in the milliseconds before I hollered.