Hunting Tactics - Rattling
84.jpgRattling originated in the mesquite thickets of Texas. Now the technique has caught fire across North America.

As early as September bucks begin tapping their horns together in light sparring. Later on, dominance sparring begins in earnest as bucks establish hierarchies. During the peak of the rut, two dominant bucks whose paths cross often engage in a vicious battle that in rare cases ends in the death of one deer. With the biological accuracy of rattling established, the next hurdle is to learn how to rattle correctly.

Early-Season Rattling

Many hunters don't bother to rattle until the rut. However, the first competition among bucks to establish a pecking order occurs shortly after they shed velvet from their antlers in September. This early sparring is 2 bucks tapping their antlers to impress each other. It is a natural sound in the deer woods, and a buck that hears it may come over to see if a bachelor group of bucks is setting the pecking order without him.

When you rattle in the early season, lightly tick a set of antlers together. Plan to spar for a minute or so, wait 15 minutes and then try it again.

Pre-Rut Rattling

This is when bucks really go at it to establish dominance. Your rattling should intensify into serious grinding and clacking followed by some antler ticking and then more grinding. Do that for 30 to 60 seconds, then lay down the horns and get ready. A buck may show up soon. If not, repeat the rattling scenario.

Peak-Rut Rattling

When 2 dominant bucks meet during the peak of the rut the hair often flies! They really go at it, grinding antlers, knocking down small trees and trampling bushes. Your rattling should simulate such a fight-use lots of loud antler grinding, pound the earth like a deer stamping and rake brush and trees with a rattling horn.

Sorry, but even if you do everything right chances are a buck won't come to investigate. That's just the nature of hunting. But if one buck in 10 responds to your rattling that is one deer you wouldn't have gotten a crack at had you sat like a church mouse and stayed quiet.
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