Deer can be attracted to sounds such as rattling antlers or grunts, which they expect to be made by other deer.
Hunters try to mimic the sound of fighting bucks so they can attract whitetails to their location. Sparring by bucks is used to establish dominance and breeding rights.
Rattling antlers was a technique that originated in Texas however is very common now when hunting whitetails.
All that is needed is a pair of antlers not attached to the skull. They usually have 3 or 4 tines and hunters saw off the brow tines to make them easier to hold. If you don’t have real antlers [including sheds] then you can buy synthetic ones as well as rattling bags.
In a comprehensive three year study of rattling antlers by researchers from the University of Georgia and Texas A&M-Kingsville, deer responded in 65 percent of 171 rattling sessions.
In 73 percent of the responses, bucks came to loud, long rattling.
What works best
Loud, long rattling sessions worked best.
Loud, short rattling sessions worked best.
Long quiet rattling sessions worked best.
Slightly more mature [three and a half years and older] bucks responded in the post rut.
Key Points for Rattling Antlers
- The best responses for the entire rut were from three and a half through four and a half year old bucks
- Older bucks responded equally well during the pre rut and post rut, but less during during the peak rut
- Bucks usually responded during the first of three 10 minute rattling sessions
- The best responses occurred when the wind speed was lowest
- The highest responses occurred when cloud cover was about 75%, with lowest rates when the skies were clear
- Morning sessions produced the best results with midday producing the least results
- Older bucks responded more in the afternoon
- Two thirds of bucks were first spotted downwind
- Bucks responded more slowly and deliberately during post rut65% of the bucks made their final approach from downwind
- The rattler saw only half the bucks that responded25% of the bucks responded after the third rattling sequence which was 20 minutes into the session
- Rattling antlers works best in high buck to doe ratio areas
- Bucks that respond to rattling antlers expect to see bucks fighting and look for the source of the noise so ensure you are well concealed and there is no/low sound and scent.Rattling should be done close to feeding and bedding areas, staging areas, rubs and scrapes
- Rattling is most effective when you see the buck before it see you, so tree stands are a distinct advantage
- Larger rattling antlers help sound carry further
Best Strategy for Mature Bucks
- Quietly approach your rattling site and let things settle down for 30 minutes before beginning rattling
- Start by clicking the tines gently a few times then wait a few minutes. Rattle more loudly the second time and try to mimic two bucks clashing and then stepping back. The rattling should a couple of minutes. Pause for a few minutes and rattle again
- After you bring the antlers together, roll your wrists and grind the antlers together mimicking two bucks shoving and pushing each other for a few minutes. Wait and listen for a few minutes before repeating
- Other sounds can be added to the rattling such as starting with a few soft grunts, raking the antlers in the brush or leaf litter, and pounding your feet to mimic the sounds of a fight
- Long quiet rattling during the post rut [second choice is the pre-rut]
- Hunt in the afternoons on overcast, low wind days
- Watch closely for an approach from downwind, so either position yourself so a buck has to expose himself in the open to approach you from downwind, or use products to suppress your odor [also consider buck in rut, tarsal, doe urine or estrus scents to bring him in]
- Consider using a decoy to focus his attention away from your location. If bucks don’t see a deer when they respond to rattling they learn that something is wrong
- After rattling, wait at least 30 minutes before moving or giving up