A common angling refrain holds that some lures are better designed to catch fishermen than fish. Hunters are no less guilty. In this series, I’m going to highlight the greatest hunting gimmicks of all time. Some might make you feel nostalgic. Others might make you nauseous. My hope is that all of them give you a good laugh.
The grunt tube is one of the simplest, most effective calls in the hunting universe. Unlike an elk bugle system or coyote e-caller, a grunt tube can fit in your pocket. And, unlike a goose flute or turkey pot call, it doesn’t take much time to master. Leave it to modern marketers to mess that up.
“News flash: Deer don’t live in trees,” according to a 2014 Flextone commercial. “That’s why Flextone developed a call that keeps the sound on the ground. Keep eyes off you while bucks run in. The Ground Grunt’r, by Flextone.”
The Ground Grunt’r is a traditional grunt call connected to 30 feet of hose and tie-downs. The piping is supposed to divert vocalizations away from you and keep a deer’s attention elsewhere. “Having grunts coming from a ground-level location is more natural than coming 25 feet up in a tree,” the packaging reads. I’m not sure there’s anything “natural” about 30 feet of plumbing hanging from your tree stand.
But wait, there’s more. If 30 feet of pipe isn’t enough to redirect roars, Flextone makes an additional 30-foot attachment (sold separately, of course) to create even more of a novelty. That’s 20 whole yards of plastic tubing, all dedicated to making your buck grunts more realistic.
The Ground Grunt’r hit shelves in 2014, but the inventor David Jackson said the concept was six years in the making. In an interview with KARK 4 News, Jackson told reporters that “there is nothing on the market like this.”
It was originally sold in big box sporting goods stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro, as well as Walmart. You won’t find it in their aisles anymore, but a landing page for the sold-out game call still exists on Walmart’s website. In the product’s description, they promise the Ground Grunt’r “will surely make your experience more efficient.”
The Ground Grunt’r has seven reviews on Amazon for an average of 3.7 stars. Although 73% of their buyers would recommend it to a friend, a notable outdoor personality who’s sponsored by Flextone described the Ground Grunt’r as a “joke product.”
“You would think you could get in a tree and drop it down and it would unfold, but the plastic was stiff as hell and it wouldn’t even extend,” the hunter, who asked to remain anonymous, told me. “It just stayed rolled up like a lasso. So you had to spend a bunch of time taking it through the rings of the ladder or sticks you climb with. Plus, you had to blow really, really hard to get enough air to make the reed create any noise. It was definitely a gimmick that didn’t last long.”
A handful of websites still carry the Ground Grunt’r, or you can find it on eBay for $30. While it’s easy to jeer at Flextone for making a grunt tube that can reach outer space, they also deserve a bit of applause. Grunt calls haven’t changed since my dad got into bowhunting, so it’s about time they see some innovation—even if the Ground Grunt’r missed the mark by about 30 feet.