Rattling is most productive during the rut—when bucks are more aggressive—in areas where the buck-to-doe ratio is close to even. (In areas with a high doe count, bucks have far less competition and therefore have less need to challenge another buck for breeding rights.) The simulated sound of two bucks fighting over a doe may attract another buck. Some bucks literally charge to the mock battle; others take their sweet time moving in. Here are three tips to help you maximize rattling’s effectiveness.
(1) Check wind direction before setting up. A buck’s natural inclination is to approach the sound of fighting from downwind. A good spot to set up is at the edge of a field, with the wind at your back. Take precautions to minimize your scent.
(2) Start slowly and quietly. You don’t want to spook any nearby deer, so rattle antlers lightly for only about 90 seconds. Wait five minutes, then repeat, but make the sound louder and longer (two minutes or so). Wait for a half hour before rattling again to give a cautious buck time to move into range.
(3) Before rattling again, rake the ground or scrape the antlers against a tree trunk. To give the impression of moving deer, rotate your body as you begin rattling. Wait at least 30 minutes before moving.