Ernie Calandrelli, Quaker Boy Director of Public Relations
The Grunt Call
I started grunting bucks into bow range over thirty years ago. I just tried to imitate what I heard the deer doing. Problem was I could not get much volume! Years later a good friend of mine from Lineville, Alabama, the late, great Billy McCoy, told me about turning a Mallard duck call around and sucking air thru it backwards. This made a pretty good whitetail buck grunt with a little more volume! This, as far as I know, started the grunt call craze.
The first calls did not have any tubes on them and sounded pretty weak even though the bucks did come to them. When Quaker Boy introduced their first grunt call we named it the Phantom Buck. I know people today that still use it with great success. The Phantom Buck had two interchangeable tubes which made the call either high-pitched or low-pitched. Both tubes worked well and had good, guttural sounding grunts.
I sat in Dick Kirby’s garage and built 25,000 of these to get us started in the deer call market. Quaker Boy's latest and, I think, best grunt call is the Brawler! The Brawler is the best-sounding, loudest grunt call I have ever heard. The Brawler grunts loud, soft, deep, high and growls like there is no tomorrow! If I were to forget my grunt call, I would either go back and get it or I would buy another one before I climbed in the stand that day. I feel naked without my grunt call when deer hunting. I believe you need to take every advantage you can in order to kill a mature whitetail buck! Stack the odds in your favor. Always carry the Brawler when you are deer hunting!
A Couple I will Never Forget
1997 - Iowa: It was two below zero and I had to pick up Bob McNally, an outdoor writer, at the airport in Des Moines, Iowa at 10:30 in the morning. It was as cold a day as I have ever hunted! The day before, Doris, the farmers wife who owned the property I was hunting on, could not believe that I spent all day in the stand. It was the 4th of November and back then in southern Iowa there were not nearly as many deer as the are now. I saw a couple little bucks, some does & fawns and about froze to death.
This morning I only had a couple of hours to hunt before I had to leave for the airport to meet Bob. There was no wind and you could hear for ever. I was hunting in a climbing stand in a tree that was barely big enough to hold me and the stand. Every time I moved a little, the branches would tremble, sway and creak in the cold morning air. At 7:00 AM I burped a few series of grunts out of my Old Buckster grunt call and before I could get it back into my pocket, I could hear a deer coming from behind me. I was set up on a ditch near a creek bottom with a little thicket and a CRP field directly in front of me. The buck that was coming in from behind me was about a 110” 8-point. He started down the ditch and then up the other side. I will never forget what happened next! That buck, which was just cresting the lip of the ditch about 15 yards to my right, stopped like he had hit a brick wall. He sniffed the air then actually backed down the ditch and ran back the way he came like a dog that had been kicked in the butt.
The wind was drifting from the CRP toward him and there was a hill right where the thicket started. Looking into the CRP I caught some movement! It was coming right at me about 40 yards away. The movement was horns and the closer they got, the more horn I could see. The big buck's body looked as big as an elk and he was on a mission straight to the call he heard. I stayed seated in the stand though I was shaking like a leaf! The buck stopped at 17 yards to rub his pre-orbital glands on some branches. I drew, and my pin settled on his chest! I could not believe the size of his body. The shot hit him good, and he stumbled, then ran 51 steps before I heard him crash. When I got to him, 148 inches of horn and a little over 300 pounds of venison lay on the ground before me!
I was so excited when I got back to the farmhouse, Doris thought I had lost my mind. I was hugging, kissing and swinging her around like I had just won the lottery. I ended up driving to the airport to pick up Bob about an hour late. He took about two hours of photos and the buck was published a number if times. Everybody who saw that deer could not believe the size of his body! The first buck, must have winded the big one's approach and wanted nothing to do with him.
2001 - Missouri: The evening of November 10, 2001 found me sitting in a ladder stand at the bottom of a CRP draw surrounded by thicket. This was my favorite deer spot! Since then, unfortunately for me, the farm has sold and we no longer have that lease. The tree was located in the CRP where all the draws met in one junction box. This was the best funnel I had ever hunted!
That evening you could hear a pin drop! Not a breath of wind, it was about 35 degrees and no clouds in the sky. As the sun was setting, the CRP above and behind me were lit up with a glow like I had never seen before. I spotted movement in the glowing CRP and almost fell out the stand. A huge buck was about 200 yards away and was heading to the south in that rut-walk they are famous for. At first I just panicked.But then I gathered my senses enough to grab my Ridge Runner grunt call! I burped it, one time and the big buck froze then turned his head toward me! I burped the call again and things started happening! Next thing I know he is running at me like he was in the Kentucky Derby! Of course I panicked again!
The buck stopped in a ditch with a few trees about 80 yards away and proceeded to rip everything he could get his horns on to shreds. Branches were breaking and leaves were flying for a few seconds and then he stoppped and stared again in my direction. I grabbbed the grunt call and burped one more time. Here he comes this time looking like he is running in the Preakness. I have not even picked up my bow yet! Finally I have enough sense to realize what I am doing there and I grabbed my bow! He stops head-on at 12 steps. I didn't know if he would come to my right or left. I guessed to the right and he started walking to my left. Now with my whole body shaking I think if I can manage to get around on him to get a shot it will be a miracle! At 7 steps I draw then mouth bleat to stop him. He looks right up at me and I’m shaking so bad I can’t get the pin settled on his chest. My pin is carving him with shaky x’s and I release in the middle of one X.
To my amazement I hit him through both shoulders and he goes right down. Then his chest stays on the ground but his butt comes up and he is leaving pushing with his back legs. Forty yards later he flips over and his head comes up a couple times, then nothing! I got him! I am shaking so bad I can’t even hold my Nikons on him to make sure he is dead. I grabbed my quiver that I had hung on the tree and it fell to the ground. I am so excited I can hardly get out of the stand! I was in such a hurry I was trying to open the wrong side! The rail opens and swings away so you can get to the ladder but this time I almost ripped if off completely. I was one fired up bow-hunter with the biggest buck of his life on the ground 50 yards away and I couldn’t get to him fast enough. Finally I calmed down a little still not being able to open the front rail of the stand I just climbed over it. When I got to that buck I just sat down and looked at him! He was 165.5 inches with one G2 that was 14 inches long and 22” inside spread! I figured this was the biggest buck I would ever kill! A week later in Kansas, well that's a story for another day. Stay tuned!