Article 2010

Notes on calling Muntjac Deer

From an article published in Deer Magazine 2010

Almost 6 years have elapsed since my original notes on calling muntjac were published in this Journal.  I regularly receive emails via my web site, usually asking ‘why doesn’t calling work for me’?  A few more thoughts and observations.

Where to call
If you choose a spot where it is easy for a muntjac to approach unseen and remain hidden whilst watching you, further education of the animal is the most likely outcome.  Very few positions are perfect, just some more so than others.  Pop-up hides and high seats can be very useful.

When to call
Calling works throughout the year.  Amongst deciduous undergrowth during Autumn and winter until spring growth is obviously easiest.

What to use
The Buttolo is very handy, esp on a lanyard, but I think almost any squeaker would work.

How to call
My original approach works but is very unsubtle. One of my friends uses a much gentler way successfully, so I have mellowed a little starting quite quietly, usually from within a pocket. Waiting, both before calling for your arrival disturbance to fade and after, for a watching animal to decide to move off and give away its position can be very useful.

Movement of either called or caller discloses presence.
Keeping still or, more precisely – not keeping still, is, I think, the main cause of failure, i.e. seeing nothing or attracting a barker that will not show.

Col. Jim Corbett, the famous hunter of man-eaters in India in the 20’s/30’s was said to have been able to remain completely still for long periods.  This is extremely difficult, try it!
Even after the 5 minute lecture and the confiscation of binoculars from clients, they all succumb to arm movements, often within seconds and I am no better.

Responses
Most responses come within 5 minutes of calling, the barker from within cover almost certainly knows you are there.  Sometimes a prolonged bark/call session will result in another animal being attracted to the scene.

When can you move?
Any eye movements seem to escape attention.  Repositioning must wait until the animal’s head is behind solid cover like a tree or when it is obviously looking away. Slow head turning, a veil or face mask important here, doesn’t change your outline much, rarely causing alarm

Producing call shyness, a simplistic example.
You have got everything as right as you can.  Settle down and press the Buttolo.  Assuming there is an interested animal within earshot you are now being stalked.  The muntjac approaches with all senses heightened; often slowly, using all the available cover, one eye peeping through the undergrowth or from behind a tree is enough for it to take in the calling area.  It’s now just a matter of time before a movement will confirm or arouse suspicion and probably associate the calling with humans.

Comfort zone
I have noticed that Muntjac will often approach to within 20/30 mts then circle when they approach from the front of the caller. Deer coming in from the sides usually get in closer, this may be because they see fewer of the mini- movements across the front of the body that give us away?
Indeed an animal with the survival record of muntjac 15-30million years would have some highly refined instincts.

Overcoming call shyness
I have found that a very long time, up to a year with no calling will redress things but I also appreciate the problem where stalking is shared.

Dogs
My late GSP would stiffen slightly and often drool whilst pointing the approaching muntjac, giving me an edge.
First time calling in an area.
Always make the most of this occasion it is rarely as easy next time

Increasing effectiveness
Where a rapid cull is required I find using 3 Rifles to be very effective.  Shoulder to shoulder with 60 degrees each, off sticks, no repositioning necessary and a non man – shaped group. Placing the caller 50 metres or so downwind of the group can increase the deception.

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