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Rattling is most effective in areas with high buck to doe ratios. It is also effective in areas with high numbers of dominant bucks; in areas with limited habitat, such as urban areas; in the marginal habitat of prairie river bottoms; and on property managed for trophy quality.
Bucks respond to rattling out of curiosity and dominance; they want to find out which bucks are fighting, and if there is an estrus doe with them. Rattle near areas bucks regularly use; buck feeding/sparring areas, buck bedrooms, doe feeding and staging areas, and dominance areas of rubs and scrapes.
Rattling works any time during the rut, but works best during the peak of the rut, when bucks are most aggressive.
Rattling works best in the morning when bucks are still searching for does or heading for core areas, and is less effective during midday when bucks are bedded. Older dominant bucks may respond best in the evening.
Rattling, like calling and using scents, works best when Security Factors are high. Deer prefer to move during low light conditions, when there are low wind speeds, and when few hunters are afield.
Bucks that respond to rattling are intent on discovering the source, which leaves you vulnerable to discovery. Take precautions to conceal or disguise unnatural sights, scents, sounds and yourself from deer.
Rattling is most effective where you have a chance of seeing the buck before it discovers you. Use treestands in dense or brushy habitat. Natural cover or blinds can be used to conceal you and your movements in open country.
Wary bucks responding to rattling or calls generally approach from downwind. Use buck in rut, tarsal, forehead, doe urine or estrus scents to add realism and bring bucks into range after being attracted by rattling and calls.
Hang a second set of antlers from your treestand. When bucks get close these antlers can be jerked and rattled, keeping movement to a minimum and away from you.
Thrashing brush and rubbing trees near buck high use areas also attracts bucks, especially mule deer that express dominance by thrashing.
11. Rustling leaves and pounding the ground with a stick or rattling racks, and grunting and blowing add realism to the sound of rattling and thrashing.
Larger antlers and some imitation racks work best because their sound carries farther. Be sure to use racks with a neutral color so they aren't seen by the deer.
If bucks are not nearby the initial contact of the antlers should be loud to get their attention. When bucks are nearby rattle softer.
When you rattle loudly bring the racks together with a crash, then roll your wrists and grind the racks together, simulating two bucks pushing and shoving each other for 1-3 minutes. Then stop and listen for a buck's approach for 3-5 minutes before beginning again.
If a buck shows up, but won't come into range, rattle softly while it can't see you, or use a grunt call to coax it into range.
If the buck starts to leave before you get a shot, or won't hold still, use a grunt call to stop it.
If you don't get a response when you rattle, wait a half hour and try again, then move a 1/4-1/2 mile away and try again.
Before leaving the stand site check the area thoroughly, especially if you have been watching a deer. More than one buck may have responded and be nearby.
A buck or doe decoy added to rattling, calls and scents provides the final visual stimulus to bring in reluctant bucks and distract their attention from your position.
Patience is an asset in rattling. Bucks may respond from as far as 1/2 mile in calm weather in open country, and may take up to a half hour to come in. Rattle every 10-15 minutes to keep the buck interested.
During the pre-rut use long, loud rattling sequences to attract wide ranging bucks.
During peak rut, when the bucks are most active, use short, loud rattling sequences. Long rattling sequences make you prone to discovery.
During post-rut use quiet, long rattling sequences. Bucks are not as aggressive after the rut and don't travel as much, give them time to respond.
Don't try to rattle the same buck from the same site on successive days. If the buck comes in and you don't get a shot wait a couple of days before rattling from that site gain.
Try not to rattle to the same buck more than three times if it doesn't see a decoy or a deer when it comes in. If bucks don't see a deer when they respond to rattling they learn that something is wrong.
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