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Rattling a Buck

Rattling for a buck is often a great method to get a buck to come closer to your deer stand on your South Carolina hunting land.  Bucks will travel toward the sounds of two bucks fighting.  However, there are some very important things to remember before you even consider trying to rattle antlers.  If you do it at the wrong time or place, there is the possibility to ruin your chances of harvesting a buck for the entire season.

One issue with rattling is that mature bucks will often approach from downwind.  You can limit the chances of this by setting up where a buck would be unable to circle downwind of your location, such as by a river’s edge, ledge, wide-open field, or even a highway.  If a buck does end up circling you, you better be wearing your Scent-Lok suit to mask most of your human scent.  It’s also important to remember that bucks that respond to rattling are specifically trying to find the source of the rattle, so you need to be sure you aren’t discovered.  Scent-Lok as well as Realtree camo are your best bets at concealment.  If you’re using a tree stand, you’ll want to be in a dense or brushy area.  Banks Blinds are great for open areas.  Buck and doe decoys can help and distract attracted bucks from your position.

Rattling is most effective during the peak of the rut, in areas with high dominant buck to doe ratios, urban areas, and quality deer-managed hunting properties.  You should rattle near the areas that bucks normally use such as near buck and doe feeding areas, sparring areas, areas with rubs and scrapes, and bedrooms.  Generally, rattling works best in the morning, but older dominant bucks might respond better at dusk.

Large antlers or imitation ones actually work best because their sound carries further.  Of course, when a buck comes close by, be sure to rattle softer.  When you first start out, rattle the racks together with a crash, then grind them together, simulating the two bucks pushing eachother for about 2 minutes.  Stop and listen for about 4 minutes before starting again.  If you can’t get a buck into range with the rattles, or if it starts to leave, use a grunt call to coax it back into range.  If you get no response, wait 30 minutes and try again.  If you still get nothing, move ¼ mile away and try again.  Bucks can hear the rattling as far away as ½ a mile, so remember to give them time to your position and rattle every 10 minutes to keep their interest.

Be sure to check the area really well before you leave, since your rattling could have attracted more than one buck to your spot.  Also, don’t go back to the same spot to rattle on consecutive days.  If you don’t get a shot, but saw a buck, wait a few days before trying that spot again.