Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Rattle Right As the Rut Heats Up

Why you should forget conventional antler-clashing wisdom.

You’ve heard the standard advice touting realism in rattling: To begin each rattling sequence, rake the antlers against a tree for added realism. At the end of each sequence, emit several deep grunts for a more lifelike illusion. For the most natural-sounding fight, clash the horns in several 30- to 60-second bursts every 20 minutes. All of this has somehow become accepted whitetail hunting dogma. Well, forget it! • Okay, don’t totally forget it. There are times when this kind of ultrarealism is not categorically over-the-top—namely, when you know a buck can hear you.

Say you’ve snuck very close to the bedding area of a late-rising buck in hopes of calling him into range during shooting light. Then, by all means, be the deer. Can’t hurt; might help.

Otherwise, the gospel according to outdoor writers doesn’t warrant a literal reading on this topic. First, the basic premise is flawed. Raking branches, for example, is not necessarily more realistic. For those who insist it is, I invite them to explain this to the countless bucks that have skipped that step during a fight. Point is, buck battles are extremely variable.

Second, bucks do not read outdoor magazines. They don’t hang back listening for some deviation from the accepted rules of rattling before deciding whether or not to commit. By and large, they either hear you and are interested, hear you and are not interested, or just don’t hear you.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter. In most situations—especially during the rut, when buck movement is unpredictable—you do not know that a buck can hear you. Rather, you are trying to get one to hear you as he passes through the area. Since you have no idea exactly when he’ll be within earshot, it makes no sense to conform to any particular rules of timing. Suppose you follow the standard advice and make three one-minute rattling sequences, but he’s out of hearing range. And right in the middle of your obligatory 20-­minute pause, he moves into earshot. When you start up again, he’s gone. Oops.

In short, when the goal is to get a roving buck to hear your horns, the most sensible thing is to forget all the complicated rules of realism and do something fundamental: Rattle loud and rattle often.

“My sentiments exactly,” says well-known whitetail consultant and longtime Buffalo County, Wis., outfitter Ted Marum of Midwest Whitetail Management Services (715-495-2988). “If bucks don’t hear you, they won’t come. Simple as that. Unless you know a buck is close, the best method is to hit the horns hard and often from a location where you can be heard from a long ways,” he recommends. “Location is critical. When you rattle from the top of a ridge where two or three different pockets of cover come together, for example, the sound travels a lot farther than it does when you’re calling from way down in a timbered bottom.”

When you’re not smashing horns, put all your focus into watching and listening for responding bucks—not fiddling around with grunt calls and bleat cans and tree-raking. You can’t be sure a buck has heard your rattling at this point, so why would you expect one to hear much quieter calls? Instead, save the subtlety for when you can actually see that a buck has responded, is close enough to hear softer calls, and needs extra coaxing to come into shooting range.

Until then, keep it simple. Just bang the horns together.

Comments (9)

Top Rated
All Comments
from nuggy wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

now that makes the most sense of all thanks for that simple piece of info

+8 Good Comment? | | Report
from natee81 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Finally! Someone actually wrote what I've been practicing! Rattle, grunt, bleat loud and often! Don't follow a time clock, just do it and be heard doing it! Waiting 20 mintues between sounds is too long. By that time, the deer that are in the area are already out of hearing range.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowhuntermike wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

So simple but so helpful !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodsdog wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

You got it baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Diamond Archer95 wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I brough in a 6 point with my buck lure last weekend. he eventualy busted me and ran about 50 yards away and started wheezing. it was going to be my last hunt for a while, so i though i might as well get all of the other bucks super curious with some overkill calling. all i had with me was a grunt call, but man, i sure did use it!
so for about 5 minutes, he wheezed and i grunted, back and forth. at the same time, i had a stick i was rubbing on my tree to sound like a buck rubbing. it worked! i brought in 2 other good sized bucks! but sadly, i had no shooting lanes. oh well...at least i know what to do next time!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gregory L Hall wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I agree 100% with you.I grunted a big 8 pointer down from mid slope ( he was headed up to the ridge )He turned around and then he stoped , So I decided to snort wheeze he came down then. I didnt have alot of lanes to shoot from so I took the first open lane I could get. The rest is history ....... Grunt and Rattle lound and often, it has never failed me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mossycods wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

AMEN! Rattling loud and often makes the most sense. The bucks are at their most aggressive state and as a hunter I know there are bucks in the area, so it makes me feel better that I'm doing something that might grab attention away from their pursuit of a doe ready to breed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brigg wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Dave - I think that you are most correct in that there should not be any "rules" when it comes to rattling. That being said...and after rattling in and killing more than a couple of B&C bucks over the years...I now use a LOT more discretion when rattling antlers. I used to do a lot of "blind rattling"...and it did at times work - quite well even sometimes. I harvested a 170" one time that literally came crashing into the swamp I was hunting over, making an incredible racket as he thundered into my location. HOWEVER...many more times while "blind rattling" I would have 1 of 2 different negative things happen as a result. 1) After my rattling sequence (or during) see the rear end of a buck high-tailing it away from my area, that I never knew was hidden close by in the thicket...or 2) most often see a very cautious buck...peeking into my area from down-wind, and either never see what he thought that he should see (bucks fighting) or get wind of me and blow....either of these two scenarios happening most often...led me to be MUCH more selective about rattling. I now, will NEVER rattle blindly...I wait until I have a visual on a roaming buck...and use the horns to peak his curiosity. Keeping a visual on him...allows me to read his body language, and either heighten or reduce the fervor with which I am rattling...doing my best to keep him on a string...while not blowing it. There is still the challenge of convincing him to come in, when he doesnt see the apparently angry bucks challenging each other...but all in all..I don't send them running the opposite way nearly as often. I don't "know it all" and would never profess to...but being selective...has definitely increased my success rate of positive close buck encounters as opposed to having nearly as many negative encounters as positive while "blind rattling". Hope this helps...I know that it has for me! Good hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Virran wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I was hunting my property and was watching the corner of the field from a box blind when across the field in the corner just inside the wood line I noticed a doe with a mission on her mind. She disappered behind the honeysuckles at the end of the field. Then I noticed two dogs eating in a gut pile from a previous deer I had harvested at the other corner of the field where she was headed. I thought if she sees these dogs, it's game over. I grabbed my bleat and grunt call along with a rattle bag and thought, what have I got to lose. I bleated and grunted followed by rattling and within a minute the doe came out the end of the field between the honeysuckle vines looking for the action that was going on. I quickly raised my muzzleloader, took aim and fired, dropping the doe with one shot at a hundred and sixty yards. And yes, I had been practicing and knew I could hit a gallon jug full of water out to 175 yards. So it goes to show you that even does are curious of the calling you make and help fill the freezer with some tasty venison.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from nuggy wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

now that makes the most sense of all thanks for that simple piece of info

+8 Good Comment? | | Report
from natee81 wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Finally! Someone actually wrote what I've been practicing! Rattle, grunt, bleat loud and often! Don't follow a time clock, just do it and be heard doing it! Waiting 20 mintues between sounds is too long. By that time, the deer that are in the area are already out of hearing range.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowhuntermike wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

So simple but so helpful !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gregory L Hall wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I agree 100% with you.I grunted a big 8 pointer down from mid slope ( he was headed up to the ridge )He turned around and then he stoped , So I decided to snort wheeze he came down then. I didnt have alot of lanes to shoot from so I took the first open lane I could get. The rest is history ....... Grunt and Rattle lound and often, it has never failed me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brigg wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Dave - I think that you are most correct in that there should not be any "rules" when it comes to rattling. That being said...and after rattling in and killing more than a couple of B&C bucks over the years...I now use a LOT more discretion when rattling antlers. I used to do a lot of "blind rattling"...and it did at times work - quite well even sometimes. I harvested a 170" one time that literally came crashing into the swamp I was hunting over, making an incredible racket as he thundered into my location. HOWEVER...many more times while "blind rattling" I would have 1 of 2 different negative things happen as a result. 1) After my rattling sequence (or during) see the rear end of a buck high-tailing it away from my area, that I never knew was hidden close by in the thicket...or 2) most often see a very cautious buck...peeking into my area from down-wind, and either never see what he thought that he should see (bucks fighting) or get wind of me and blow....either of these two scenarios happening most often...led me to be MUCH more selective about rattling. I now, will NEVER rattle blindly...I wait until I have a visual on a roaming buck...and use the horns to peak his curiosity. Keeping a visual on him...allows me to read his body language, and either heighten or reduce the fervor with which I am rattling...doing my best to keep him on a string...while not blowing it. There is still the challenge of convincing him to come in, when he doesnt see the apparently angry bucks challenging each other...but all in all..I don't send them running the opposite way nearly as often. I don't "know it all" and would never profess to...but being selective...has definitely increased my success rate of positive close buck encounters as opposed to having nearly as many negative encounters as positive while "blind rattling". Hope this helps...I know that it has for me! Good hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Virran wrote 1 year 19 weeks ago

I was hunting my property and was watching the corner of the field from a box blind when across the field in the corner just inside the wood line I noticed a doe with a mission on her mind. She disappered behind the honeysuckles at the end of the field. Then I noticed two dogs eating in a gut pile from a previous deer I had harvested at the other corner of the field where she was headed. I thought if she sees these dogs, it's game over. I grabbed my bleat and grunt call along with a rattle bag and thought, what have I got to lose. I bleated and grunted followed by rattling and within a minute the doe came out the end of the field between the honeysuckle vines looking for the action that was going on. I quickly raised my muzzleloader, took aim and fired, dropping the doe with one shot at a hundred and sixty yards. And yes, I had been practicing and knew I could hit a gallon jug full of water out to 175 yards. So it goes to show you that even does are curious of the calling you make and help fill the freezer with some tasty venison.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodsdog wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

You got it baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Diamond Archer95 wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I brough in a 6 point with my buck lure last weekend. he eventualy busted me and ran about 50 yards away and started wheezing. it was going to be my last hunt for a while, so i though i might as well get all of the other bucks super curious with some overkill calling. all i had with me was a grunt call, but man, i sure did use it!
so for about 5 minutes, he wheezed and i grunted, back and forth. at the same time, i had a stick i was rubbing on my tree to sound like a buck rubbing. it worked! i brought in 2 other good sized bucks! but sadly, i had no shooting lanes. oh well...at least i know what to do next time!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mossycods wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

AMEN! Rattling loud and often makes the most sense. The bucks are at their most aggressive state and as a hunter I know there are bucks in the area, so it makes me feel better that I'm doing something that might grab attention away from their pursuit of a doe ready to breed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

bmxbiz-fs