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Antler Rattling Tips: How to Call In Big Bucks During The Rut

Antler rattling is an effective technique during the rut, when bucks are more aggressive

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.

Photo by Dan Marsiglio

(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.

Comments (33)

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from jay wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I've had little success rattling in illinois. I blame it on the poor buck to doe ration; truth may be that I'm just not good at it. I'll try these tips once the rut starts.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from weaklandjr wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I have not rattled for bucks before but if I do I will have to remember these tips. I have been successful by using doe scent; I guess that my hunting area has a great buck-to-doe ratio.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

It certainly works here ... a lot!
Word of caution!
When you are in the midst of rattling, have your weapon ready at all times,as they sometimes come in as though they are on a rope!

Before leaving be sure to glass in all directions,as one may have come in,but was being cautious just out of sight.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffo52284 wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

Great advice. i have never rattled before because i wasnt sure how thanks for the great tip

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rossmorrone wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I rattled two does in this week using the 2 minute method, but I rattled every 15 minutes thereafter. I think that may have been overkill. Plus they never got close enough take a shot, so I think I made them cautious doing it so often.

Ross
-----
visit www.norop.com the search engine for Hunters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from salmonquest wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I wonder if this technique is even more effective with a small buck decoy? Would a doe be better?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from crosshairy wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

I would think you are right, salmonquest. I've just never bothered to lug a deer decoy around with me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2matsgul wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

i'll be sure to use this tip during the season!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbowhunter wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Can you start rattling in early bow season? will it scare off deer if you try to rattle in a buck right now?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from swilmot1 wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

ive used a a rattle bag and decoy combination a few times durring early bow season. Ive been in a location where I have seen a bachelor group comming out so i placed the decoy out and rattled lightly and just as soon the 3 came out to investigate

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from deces7575 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Good Article. This is the first season i'm going to be rattling. Do fake antlers or something like the Knight & Hale "Pack Rack" work well or is it best to use real antlers?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brewster g wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I will try that.
Does anyone know anything about using the grunt call and whats the most effective way to use it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from IanS wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

It's worked for me. I didn't wait as long between rattles but it makes sence to be a little more cautious

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rodea75 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I did some lite rattling and grunting last week and had a smaller 4 point come in about 20 yards away. Will be hitting the horns again this afternoon and see what happens. I also hunt here in Kansas on Fort Riley. I think the pre rut is starting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from baerk wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have rattled in many bucks in Massachusetts the ratio is low around here. Be patient and keep your eyes peeled and be ready I have had them come running in on the first tickle and also had them hang up until dark and then ghost the stand. Keep trying it does work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tlangs31 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

If you get it at the right time and right place look out and be ready. If you rattle and a buck is in your area look out because i have had some act quick right after you rattle and sometimes even during.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jlitz wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

i never really had any luck with it is there something im missing

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jdmodica wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I never had any luck with rattling, until last season. I rattled and grunted in a 6 pointer and it came in so quickly I didn't have time to drop the rattle bags and grab my bow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WiscBuckHntr wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

During early season, doing what i call tine tingling, in which i very gently touch the antlers together can draw some buck attention. Before they start rutting and bucks are still in groups together they practice fight. These practice sessions are very short and very non violent. So early season agressive rattling will often scare bucks. The best time to rattle is the few days before does start becoming receptive to bucks. This is when the bucks are ultra agressive and any buck in his area is subject to a "beat down" by any dominate buck. I use my grunt call as well. I use primos buck roar and H.S. true talker because they are adjustable. I set the tone the grunt call makes to a immature or young buck. I do this because if you sound immature to a dominate buck in the area he surely will come running in to chase you away. I grunt 3 or 4 times, look around and listen, then start my rattling sequence. When i rattle, i bang the horns for ten seconds, then pause for 2 to 3 seconds then back to rattling continuing this process for up to five minutes. The reason i pause is to listen. Some bucks will immediately come running, some will come walking, either way you want to hear these deer before they are on top of you then have to time to grab the bow. After i finish a rattling sequence i again grunt a couple more times, sometimes adding a "put put put". This immitates a deer grunting while trotting after a deer. So the "put" is three short puffs of air through the grunt. I also use natural antlers ONLY. Mature bucks are smart, they know the difference between "fake" antlers. I think its common sense too that we should know rattle bags full of wood pieces or synthetic antlers made of plastic DO NOT sound the same as real antlers. Grunt calls can be so effective, do not be affraid to use them. I have had deer walk by me where i couldnt get a shot, get 60 yards past my stand, i hit the grunt call and they turn around and come back!! My current rattling antlers are curtousy of the buck that did come back to the grunt!! I learned my techniques from material written by guys like Larry Wieshun and Stan Potts. These guys are icons to our sport and have many trophys to prove what they do works so i would suggest looking these guys up and reading what they have to say. I did and it works!!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from codyboyd wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

i havent tried it so i wouldn't know but this will hopefully get me a nice buck this season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gregory L Hall wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I have rattled for years and my success rate is not as good as I would Like. I prefer real Antlers to bag sticks or snythectic Antlers but I currently use a bag. I will use these tips on my next hunt. I think the time sequence will help me greatly....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from time2be wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I was hunting in SC one year and tried rattling. I got in my tree stand around 3pm and waited 30 min then rattled. Soon as I hung up my antlers I heard one comming right for me. I stood up and drew back and there he came down the trail I had used to get to my tree stand. He stoped 10yds aways and looked up. I let the arrow go and nailed him. It worked just like textbook. It does not always work that way but when it does it is great!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mooseye wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

My best/worst rattling experience was a couple seasons back. I had been rattling, grunting, using a can bleat and had sent out. In other words trying every thing but the kitchen sink.
About thirty minutes later a big eight point came crashing throught the forest like a ceyote was on his heels. He ran up so close to the ladder on my stand that if he had raised his head his rack would have surly hung on the rungs.
All of this 3 or 4 seconds I am trying to decide if I can shoot my bow straight down from a 20 foot high stand when the big fellow has seen or smelled enough. Two bounds and he was over the feeder creek behind my stand and out of sight.
Oh well, maybe next time.
Rattling and all other lures work sometimes!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from zschneebs wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Thanks, great tips, I'll have to try them next season

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from grant77 wrote 3 years 39 weeks ago

GREAT ADVICE!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hoyt187 wrote 3 years 35 weeks ago

Just got back into hunting seriously. Did it as a kid , just went to the woods sat there and waited. I love this site cause of articles like this to help me learn the tips and technics that i was never show when i was younger. Does anyone know of other places to help me improve my skills

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffrey.cote23@... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Rattling is not for the weak or faint of heart! Do it right and under the right circumstances and it can yield some great results. Last year on november 8 I rattled in a nice non typical 5 pointer with a 201 lb body here in northern maine and the same day later on my buddy did the same..It does work!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walter Talley wrote 2 years 30 weeks ago

I have rattled in shooter bucks here in FL more than one time.I do not rattle until last week on Nov. and all of Dec. I have tried it in IN but only got does to stick head out of thicket and then look back behind itself, more than likely buck was standing out of sight.Will try this year in KY to rattle during rut in mid Nov.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Thanks for the tips, actually been tryin to learn how to rattle effectively.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walter Talley wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Just got back from IN and Al rattled up in IN but did n`t rattle in AL because the deer are not even prerut yet.The key to rattling is not rattle to long and keep it to no longer 90 seconds reason being buck could be less than a 100 yards away and be in your lap before you have time to even put down your antlers or bag or ect...Will rattle in AL and FL starting in middle Dec. until middle of Jan. in some places in N FL and the black belt of AL and also some parts of west middle GA rut does not start till then.Will post more after 1st of year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Titanic98 wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

I Hunt in Maryland and I really don't have good luck with rattling or gruting but this kinda of helped I will try it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jessica Atherton wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

I am going to try rattling for the first time. I know a big 12 pointer is around, I saw him in velvet. I also have a couple forks, a 6 and an 8 that I have seen out my patio window. Time to get one. I got a big doe last weekend from my stand. Did nothing, just good deer field

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterjohan wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Here's something interesting I learned in the field last week by accident. I hunt in Corrigan, TX and have tried scents, grunt calls, etc with a lot of failure. This year somehow my gear bag with all my equipment disappeared so I had no rattling horns with me or grunt calls. Northwest of my deer box stand about 20yds was a big growth of Yopon brush I never got a chance or kept forgetting to cut and it blocked much of my view down a paticular old logging road. Being I wasn't too confident in my area this year and even though it was the second week of rifle season here in east Texas I got out of my stand and went to remove the brush. I bent the outer limbs until they cracked over. I worked my way in to get all of it broken over. The bigger limbs made a loud snap as they broke. As I quickly walked back to my stand I thought, " Well I guess I've scared anything that may have been around off now." Well, within 4 or five minutes after getting seated here comes a young spike running and leaping over brush heading right towards me. He crossed the road within 10 yards of my stand. Then a minute later a nice big muscular 8pt buck ran across the road broadside about 30yds away. Couldn't tell width of antlers. Then heading opposite direction a doe runs across the road with a fork horn buck chasing her. Then my dream buck steps out way down by my gravity feeder about 80yds away. He's an 11pt buck with about an 18" to 20" spread I caught on my new StealthCam. But by the time I got my rifle up and out the window and got my sights on him he disappeared into the woods. I was sick. Then I got to wondering why all of a sudden all these deer came around within minutes of breaking all of that brush. I figured out that it was the same sound as rattling as the limbs snapped and the brush russled. I had actually rattled in deer per se' by breaking over the limbs. Each crack sounded like horns hitting together. Now I have just purchased the fairly new "Knight & Hale Pack Rack" to try instead of the rattling horns a salesman showed me. It sounds just like horns but is compact and can be louder than the rattling bags. You control the sound. I'll find out how good it works this weekend.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from WiscBuckHntr wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

During early season, doing what i call tine tingling, in which i very gently touch the antlers together can draw some buck attention. Before they start rutting and bucks are still in groups together they practice fight. These practice sessions are very short and very non violent. So early season agressive rattling will often scare bucks. The best time to rattle is the few days before does start becoming receptive to bucks. This is when the bucks are ultra agressive and any buck in his area is subject to a "beat down" by any dominate buck. I use my grunt call as well. I use primos buck roar and H.S. true talker because they are adjustable. I set the tone the grunt call makes to a immature or young buck. I do this because if you sound immature to a dominate buck in the area he surely will come running in to chase you away. I grunt 3 or 4 times, look around and listen, then start my rattling sequence. When i rattle, i bang the horns for ten seconds, then pause for 2 to 3 seconds then back to rattling continuing this process for up to five minutes. The reason i pause is to listen. Some bucks will immediately come running, some will come walking, either way you want to hear these deer before they are on top of you then have to time to grab the bow. After i finish a rattling sequence i again grunt a couple more times, sometimes adding a "put put put". This immitates a deer grunting while trotting after a deer. So the "put" is three short puffs of air through the grunt. I also use natural antlers ONLY. Mature bucks are smart, they know the difference between "fake" antlers. I think its common sense too that we should know rattle bags full of wood pieces or synthetic antlers made of plastic DO NOT sound the same as real antlers. Grunt calls can be so effective, do not be affraid to use them. I have had deer walk by me where i couldnt get a shot, get 60 yards past my stand, i hit the grunt call and they turn around and come back!! My current rattling antlers are curtousy of the buck that did come back to the grunt!! I learned my techniques from material written by guys like Larry Wieshun and Stan Potts. These guys are icons to our sport and have many trophys to prove what they do works so i would suggest looking these guys up and reading what they have to say. I did and it works!!

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I've had little success rattling in illinois. I blame it on the poor buck to doe ration; truth may be that I'm just not good at it. I'll try these tips once the rut starts.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from weaklandjr wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I have not rattled for bucks before but if I do I will have to remember these tips. I have been successful by using doe scent; I guess that my hunting area has a great buck-to-doe ratio.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

It certainly works here ... a lot!
Word of caution!
When you are in the midst of rattling, have your weapon ready at all times,as they sometimes come in as though they are on a rope!

Before leaving be sure to glass in all directions,as one may have come in,but was being cautious just out of sight.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from swilmot1 wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

ive used a a rattle bag and decoy combination a few times durring early bow season. Ive been in a location where I have seen a bachelor group comming out so i placed the decoy out and rattled lightly and just as soon the 3 came out to investigate

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffo52284 wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

Great advice. i have never rattled before because i wasnt sure how thanks for the great tip

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from salmonquest wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I wonder if this technique is even more effective with a small buck decoy? Would a doe be better?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from mooseye wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

My best/worst rattling experience was a couple seasons back. I had been rattling, grunting, using a can bleat and had sent out. In other words trying every thing but the kitchen sink.
About thirty minutes later a big eight point came crashing throught the forest like a ceyote was on his heels. He ran up so close to the ladder on my stand that if he had raised his head his rack would have surly hung on the rungs.
All of this 3 or 4 seconds I am trying to decide if I can shoot my bow straight down from a 20 foot high stand when the big fellow has seen or smelled enough. Two bounds and he was over the feeder creek behind my stand and out of sight.
Oh well, maybe next time.
Rattling and all other lures work sometimes!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rossmorrone wrote 4 years 27 weeks ago

I rattled two does in this week using the 2 minute method, but I rattled every 15 minutes thereafter. I think that may have been overkill. Plus they never got close enough take a shot, so I think I made them cautious doing it so often.

Ross
-----
visit www.norop.com the search engine for Hunters.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from crosshairy wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

I would think you are right, salmonquest. I've just never bothered to lug a deer decoy around with me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2matsgul wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

i'll be sure to use this tip during the season!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbowhunter wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Can you start rattling in early bow season? will it scare off deer if you try to rattle in a buck right now?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brewster g wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I will try that.
Does anyone know anything about using the grunt call and whats the most effective way to use it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from baerk wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

I have rattled in many bucks in Massachusetts the ratio is low around here. Be patient and keep your eyes peeled and be ready I have had them come running in on the first tickle and also had them hang up until dark and then ghost the stand. Keep trying it does work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gregory L Hall wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I have rattled for years and my success rate is not as good as I would Like. I prefer real Antlers to bag sticks or snythectic Antlers but I currently use a bag. I will use these tips on my next hunt. I think the time sequence will help me greatly....

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from time2be wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I was hunting in SC one year and tried rattling. I got in my tree stand around 3pm and waited 30 min then rattled. Soon as I hung up my antlers I heard one comming right for me. I stood up and drew back and there he came down the trail I had used to get to my tree stand. He stoped 10yds aways and looked up. I let the arrow go and nailed him. It worked just like textbook. It does not always work that way but when it does it is great!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from grant77 wrote 3 years 39 weeks ago

GREAT ADVICE!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deces7575 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

Good Article. This is the first season i'm going to be rattling. Do fake antlers or something like the Knight & Hale "Pack Rack" work well or is it best to use real antlers?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from IanS wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

It's worked for me. I didn't wait as long between rattles but it makes sence to be a little more cautious

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rodea75 wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

I did some lite rattling and grunting last week and had a smaller 4 point come in about 20 yards away. Will be hitting the horns again this afternoon and see what happens. I also hunt here in Kansas on Fort Riley. I think the pre rut is starting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tlangs31 wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

If you get it at the right time and right place look out and be ready. If you rattle and a buck is in your area look out because i have had some act quick right after you rattle and sometimes even during.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jlitz wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

i never really had any luck with it is there something im missing

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jdmodica wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I never had any luck with rattling, until last season. I rattled and grunted in a 6 pointer and it came in so quickly I didn't have time to drop the rattle bags and grab my bow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from codyboyd wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

i havent tried it so i wouldn't know but this will hopefully get me a nice buck this season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from zschneebs wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Thanks, great tips, I'll have to try them next season

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hoyt187 wrote 3 years 35 weeks ago

Just got back into hunting seriously. Did it as a kid , just went to the woods sat there and waited. I love this site cause of articles like this to help me learn the tips and technics that i was never show when i was younger. Does anyone know of other places to help me improve my skills

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffrey.cote23@... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Rattling is not for the weak or faint of heart! Do it right and under the right circumstances and it can yield some great results. Last year on november 8 I rattled in a nice non typical 5 pointer with a 201 lb body here in northern maine and the same day later on my buddy did the same..It does work!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walter Talley wrote 2 years 30 weeks ago

I have rattled in shooter bucks here in FL more than one time.I do not rattle until last week on Nov. and all of Dec. I have tried it in IN but only got does to stick head out of thicket and then look back behind itself, more than likely buck was standing out of sight.Will try this year in KY to rattle during rut in mid Nov.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from big_buck_hunter_2013 wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Thanks for the tips, actually been tryin to learn how to rattle effectively.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walter Talley wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Just got back from IN and Al rattled up in IN but did n`t rattle in AL because the deer are not even prerut yet.The key to rattling is not rattle to long and keep it to no longer 90 seconds reason being buck could be less than a 100 yards away and be in your lap before you have time to even put down your antlers or bag or ect...Will rattle in AL and FL starting in middle Dec. until middle of Jan. in some places in N FL and the black belt of AL and also some parts of west middle GA rut does not start till then.Will post more after 1st of year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Titanic98 wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

I Hunt in Maryland and I really don't have good luck with rattling or gruting but this kinda of helped I will try it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jessica Atherton wrote 1 year 24 weeks ago

I am going to try rattling for the first time. I know a big 12 pointer is around, I saw him in velvet. I also have a couple forks, a 6 and an 8 that I have seen out my patio window. Time to get one. I got a big doe last weekend from my stand. Did nothing, just good deer field

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterjohan wrote 1 year 21 weeks ago

Here's something interesting I learned in the field last week by accident. I hunt in Corrigan, TX and have tried scents, grunt calls, etc with a lot of failure. This year somehow my gear bag with all my equipment disappeared so I had no rattling horns with me or grunt calls. Northwest of my deer box stand about 20yds was a big growth of Yopon brush I never got a chance or kept forgetting to cut and it blocked much of my view down a paticular old logging road. Being I wasn't too confident in my area this year and even though it was the second week of rifle season here in east Texas I got out of my stand and went to remove the brush. I bent the outer limbs until they cracked over. I worked my way in to get all of it broken over. The bigger limbs made a loud snap as they broke. As I quickly walked back to my stand I thought, " Well I guess I've scared anything that may have been around off now." Well, within 4 or five minutes after getting seated here comes a young spike running and leaping over brush heading right towards me. He crossed the road within 10 yards of my stand. Then a minute later a nice big muscular 8pt buck ran across the road broadside about 30yds away. Couldn't tell width of antlers. Then heading opposite direction a doe runs across the road with a fork horn buck chasing her. Then my dream buck steps out way down by my gravity feeder about 80yds away. He's an 11pt buck with about an 18" to 20" spread I caught on my new StealthCam. But by the time I got my rifle up and out the window and got my sights on him he disappeared into the woods. I was sick. Then I got to wondering why all of a sudden all these deer came around within minutes of breaking all of that brush. I figured out that it was the same sound as rattling as the limbs snapped and the brush russled. I had actually rattled in deer per se' by breaking over the limbs. Each crack sounded like horns hitting together. Now I have just purchased the fairly new "Knight & Hale Pack Rack" to try instead of the rattling horns a salesman showed me. It sounds just like horns but is compact and can be louder than the rattling bags. You control the sound. I'll find out how good it works this weekend.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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