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Rattling for Big Bucks


Rattling in or mimicking a fight between bucks has long been a tactic of the southwest. First popularized in Texas as a way to draw bucks out of the brush, rattling is an effective tactic all across the whitetail deer’s range. Here is how it works in the areas you hunt.

As mentioned in the story about vocalizations, rattling does not work all of the time, but when it does, it is very exciting. Whether you use a rattling bag, which is nothing more that odd shaped dowels in a cloth bag, or plastic antlers or my preference real antlers, rattling is easy and effective.

The first thing to know is that there is no wrong way to rattle and get a response. I have brought in bucks by ‘tickling’ the antlers. Lightly touching them together and soft turning and twisting. And I have brought in bucks by mimicking a very aggressive battle. The one thing I would recommend is to picture bucks fighting, or watch some videos of bucks fighting and listen to the sound the antlers are making. There is a lot more twisting and pushing that clanging. A good rattling sequence should reflect this as much as possible. Twisting, turning and pushing are mostly what bucks do when fighting.

A typical rattling sequence will begin about thirty minutes after sun up. I will begin with an aggressive grunt from my call, then hit the antlers together as hard as I can and lock them together and twist and turn for as long as two minutes. When I rip the antlers apart, I follow this with a long, low grunt. Then I wait at least two minutes and repeat this process. I will do this for at least three full sequences. Then wait about an hour and repeat. If a buck shows up, I let his actions dictate what I do and how I react to him.

I prefer average size antlers for rattling, or be on the big size. Antlers too small just do not produce enough sound and sound like small bucks. I am trying to call in a mature buck so I want to sound like a mature buck. The old saying is; “big antlers will bring in small bucks and big bucks. Small antlers will bring in small bucks.”

Rattling is one tactic that works just as well in South Carolina as it does in Texas. I have successfully, rattled in bucks in both Carolina’s, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Texas. It does not work all of the time, but when it does, it works well and is one of the most exciting methods of hunting to be employed. If you haven’t done it, you are missing one of the best methods of bringing a mature buck into your sights.