‘Rattling’ calls in big bucks

In recent years, as whitetail deer populations continue to grow across Northwestern Ontario, various methods of hunting have become popular.
Sitting in tree stands or ground blinds, overlooking high percentage travel areas, is likely the best way to take a big buck—the goal of many hunters.
Add to this method of sitting and being patient some sounds to emulate deer, especially bucks fighting, and you could bag the biggest deer of your life this season.
Big bucks are smart animals and very seldom make mistakes. As the annual rut, or breeding cycle, takes place (which it will in Sunset Country over the next couple of weeks), bucks are more likely to make mistakes as they cover ground looking for does.
As smart as deer are, they are especially inquisitive at this time of year, which is why calls to imitate deer sounds and “rattling” to imitate deer fighting can be so successful for hunters.
My first experience of “rattling” for deer came from my buddies, Dennis Favreau and Chris Savage. They were both a few years older than me, but used to take me hunting on the weekends when I was still in high school.
They were pioneers in this area for using “rattling” as a technique to call in big bucks. I can remember one Hallowe’en day when Chris rattled in three different bucks for me as I hunted. I missed a nice buck (got a little too excited, I suppose).
Denny, meanwhile, was not far away from us that day and rattled in a really good buck which we got to help carry out.
Since that day, I take advantage of the right conditions and get in a few quality days of “rattling” each season.
When I say “the right conditions,” I’m specifically talking about the wind. You absolutely want little wind for breaking out this hunting tactic on your next outing. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that if there is too much wind, whitetails are going to be much more likely to get downwind of you and not show themselves.
Also when there is little wind, the sound of banging the antlers together travels much farther, allowing hunters to call in deer from farther distances.
“Rattling” is a great two-hunter tactic. When I do it with a buddy and I’m the one banging the antlers together, I will get in some thick brush, preferably around a fallen tree, and make as much noise as I can, smashing the branches on the dead tree.
You want to imitate two deer fighting and the deer in Sunset Country typically weigh between 230 and 300 pounds, so you can imagine how much noise they make.
“Rattle” in three- or four-minute sessions, meaning bang the antlers together for a few minutes, then sit tight and don’t move. Bucks usually will sneak in super quiet and they just appear, many times within 15-30 yards of the sounds.
The reason bucks have so much interest in other bucks fighting is they are fighting for the right to breed does. If a buck hears others fighting, it indicates there may be a hot doe around, so they come to check it out.
Hunters can use shed antlers, or antlers cut off a previously-harvested deer, for this tactic. “Rattle” bags can be purchased in most places that sell hunting gear and are popular with some hunters, but I like the sounds that real antlers make.
Try “rattling” out in the woods this season and you could have the most exciting deer hunting experience of your life!

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