John's Journal...

Calling In Bucks

Rattling Antlers, Bags and Boxes

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: One time when I hunted in Mexico, because of the grunt call, I held a buck within shooting range for over an hour. I also bought myself time to see a bigger deer. When no other trophy showed up, I used the grunt call to position the buck to allow me to take an effective shot. On that day, in that place, the grunt call made the difference in whether or not I bagged a buck. And, often calling deer will make that difference in your hunt, as we’ll learn this week.

Most hunters have their own philosophy concerning rattling devices. Some hunters swear they know of nothing more productive than using real antlers for rattling bucks. However, I’ve seenClick to enlarge other hunters and bagged bucks myself while utilizing synthetic antlers, rattling bags, rattling boxes and other devices that produce the sounds of antlers clashing. You must answer in your mind how discriminating you think a buck’s hearing is. Can he distinguish between real antlers and the sounds made by artificial products? I don’t think a buck can. I believe the success of the rattling strategy depends more on the buck’s mood than on the sounds he hears. For instance, conventional wisdom says you’ll experience the best response to rattling in regions with a 1:1 buck/doe ratio rather than in a herd with more does than bucks. But I’ve seen rattling produce trophy bucks in both Alabama and Mississippi in herds that have five or six does or more for every buck. Also until recently, I’ve always believed the best times to rattle included just prior to, during and immediately after the rut. However, I’ve seen monster bucks come to the horns in October and November with the rut still 2-months away. Click to enlarge

The mood of the buck on the day you use rattling antlers will determine the results you get more so than the time of year and/or day you rattle, the tools you select for rattling and/or the buck/doe ratio in the herd. I’ve Click to enlargerattled bucks in from the first of deer season through the rut to the end of the rut and from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm in thick cover areas where bucks bed. A two-man rattling tactic seems to yield the most bucks in deep woods and thick cover in the East. The person who plans to rattle sits in a tree stand facing the wind and the thick cover where he expects the buck to come from, usually 50 to 75 yards behind the first hunter and downwind of him. Seven times out of 10, if a buck lives in the area, hears the rattling and comes out of thick cover, he’ll circle the sound of the clashing antlers. He’ll move in downwind of the hunter doing the rattling. Most of the time, the hunter set up downwind of the first hunter will see and bag the buck as the buck makes his circle.

Tomorrow: Overlooked Keys to Rattling Success

Check back each day this week for more about "Calling In Bucks"

Day 1: When a Grunt Call Worked
Day 2: Why Grunt
Day 3: Why Cackle to Bucks and What About the Bleat Call
Day 4: Rattling Antlers, Bags and Boxes
Day 5: Overlooked Keys to Rattling Success



Entry 387, Day 1