Learning the Language of Nature's Little Tattletales

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When hunting whitetails there are many different languages being spoken afield that I key on when outdoors. All these little creatures living around whitetails have something to tell us if we are willing to listen.

My favorite tattletales of the outdoors are a handful of little birds that live in my state of Ohio. Maybe yours too. A tip for the upcoming season.

There are Blue Jays, Cardinals, Chickadees, Killdeer, and Sparrows that all have language in alerting me when whitetails are moving. The areas I hunt in have fence rows, creeks, borders of cover, woods and open terrain farm fields. Each bird has its own liken to the cover they stay in.

When hunting timber the Blue Jays are the most vocal of all birds. And they are the best at telling me when Whitetails are on the move in timber. I have witnessed numerous times Jays scolding deer as they moved through timber. One particular day I witnessed a good buck entering the woods early morning heading back to his bedding area and as soon as he stepped in the timber the ole Blue Jays started working him over scolding him all the way through the woods going from tree top to tree top, not giving him a break. I could tell from those Jays, just where this buck ended up that morning. Guess where I was hunting that evening. It was a no brainer. Those Jays gave him up where he was heading. When I am on stand and the leaves are  in full foilage and I hear a Jays close by scolding  and can not see them I get up and my bow comes off the hanger. These birds are super giveaways for picking up on deer movement in timber.

My next favorite little feathered friend is the Killdeer. This bird can actually pattern deer for you while on stand before daylight. You see these little guy's nests out in the open fields and only move during daylight hours. But when he is disturbed before daylight and after sunset he will let you know what is going on around him. He cries out loud very high pitched  Kee Kee Kee Kee Kee and does this only when disturbed and stays close by where his nest is. You can actually hear this little guy for a mile on a calm still morning when being disturbed. When you hear this bird in darkness you want to pay attention to where and when you heard him. I have actually changed locations before daylight when this little guy gave away deer movement one morning.

After hearing him cut loose a distance away I ran to my other stand climbed in and moments later I had five bucks single file walk right under me in faint light not light enough to kill one. That killdeer is what let me know where those bucks were and heading. Most of the time when deer head back to their beds before daylight crossing open fields they will disturb this bird in doing so. This little guy will tell you everything you need to know before daylight and after sunset if you key on his tattletale ways.

Cardinals are another little bird that gives whitetails away when the deer are traveling their corridors. Cardinals love to spend time along fence rows and will move nervously away from whitails as they walk up a fence or creek or along the edge of a woods. They will fly low to the ground and fast calling the whole time staying in the cover they are along. When I see these birds flying towards me in this fashion I always get up and the bow comes off the hanger.

Chickadees and Sparrows will do the same thing they all travel up the fence or creek or along the edge of a woods together when deer are moving along such cover. They have a distinct chatter when they are disturbed or being pushed along cover. These birds will stay a little closer to deer then cardinals do. When Chickadees and Sparrows all come flying up a fence row together chattering and all excited its time to stand up and get your bow off the hanger.

All these little creatures have vocal and body language for us to tell when something is out of the norm in daily routines. Birds get excited around whitetails and they display this often. I watch bird language closely on fence rows creeks and edges of timber.

Another visual display of importance is when you're witnessing a small buck standing out in the open along cover or open field just staring and acting like a statue facing that cover. Pay attention to this kind of display of body language. I have seen several small bucks over the years display this visual and when seeing this I know exactly what is going on. Twice in my life I almost connected with two different Trophy Bucks while seeing this kind of display from a distance while traveling down the county road close to home. I put on a stalk both times and came up empty handed both times but not from the lack of being close enough. The biggest of the two bucks I got too close to and couldn't move to shoot him and he slipped away without getting an arrow in him. But both those two experiences was credited to seeing and understanding body language  when presented. 

When you're in those tree stands and killing time there is a story being told around you if you're willing to listen. Good Hunting to All in 2010 and Good Luck.



hunter25's picture

If using tips like this one

If using tips like this one can help you to get a buck like the one in your photo there then I am definitely ready to pay attention. I had not paid much attention to the birds before but doing so makes perfect sense.

When I was a kid hunting out of blinds back in Michigan or Wisconsin i do remember listening to the squirrels, if they started making a racket you could be sure something was on the way.

Thanks for the tip and I will pay more attention to everything around me.

arrowflipper's picture


Wow!  What a great tip!  I have always enjoyed watching the birds nearby while sitting in a treestand.  I hadn't thought about them giving me tips on deer movement.  I will take special notice of that this fall while I'm up in that tree.  I actually sit in a tree for the blacktail deer in the dense forests of Western Washington.  I first set up my trail cam and then place a stand near a well used trail.  I have always heard the birds but didn't pay that close of attention. 

I have, on many occasions, cussed the little suckers out for putting up such a racket while I sneak through the woods though.  I guess turnabout is fair play.  Thanks for the tip.

groovy mike's picture

It pays to be alert

That’s a great looking buck and some very good tips Recurve.


I picked this tip up from the vivid story telling of James Corbett in his books about hunting the man eating leopards and tigers of India.  Corbett would often locate the dangerous beasts from the signs that the small harmless animals and birds would give him.  They would tell him the direction or travel and proximity of the predators by their actions as the cats disturbed the other animals passing through.  You need to be a keen observer to take note of even a small portion of the signs that the woodlands give you about animal movement, but you can readily observe a portion of it by noting how the woodland animals react to your own presence.  The woods are quiet when you arrive because the animals have heard you coming and fled or hidden.  But after you sit still and quietly for ten or fifteen minutes the woods seem to come alive with the sights and sounds of small animals and birds. I have to think that the same is true for any large animal moving through the woods.


Thanks for the reminders,