Check out this Reconyx video of some young bucks fighting. Pay attention because the sound of clashing antlers attracts a bigger buck. Watching this video will probably make some hunters want to rattle the next time they hit the whitetail woods. (Crank up the volume in the Facebook video to hear the fighting.)
My friend Dr. Mickey Hellickson studied how bucks respond to rattling. In short, there were several bucks fitted with radio collars at Mickey’s study area. He’d locate the bucks from a distance, then rattled and studied the bucks’ responses.
Mickey tested four rattling techniques including:
- Short and soft (1 minute of tickling antlers followed by 9 minutes of silence)
- Short and loud (1 minute of crashing antlers followed by 9 minutes of silence)
- Long and soft (7 minutes of tickling antlers followed by 1 minute of silence)
- Long and loud (7 minutes of crashing antlers followed by 1 minute of silence)
His work showed that the most bucks responded to the long and loud technique. There were certainly times when no bucks responded. This is great information, however, there’s more to the story. Rattling long and loud requires a lot of movement. It’s easier to get away with this amount of movement when hunting from the ground and hidden by thick cover or in a blind.
The amount of movement necessary to use the long and loud rattling technique from a treestand could allow deer to spot the hunter. This is one reason I prefer to use a grunt call rather than rattling antlers. The appropriate tone and rhythm of grunting I use communicates an immature buck is tending a receptive doe. This message is very attractive to bucks of all ages.
Rattling is fun and certainly a valid technique. However, I always start by grunting to see if there are bucks nearby. Grunt calls can be used from any position with minimal movement. After a few grunting sequences, I might try rattling.
It’s prime time to be using calling techniques throughout most of the whitetail’s range. Good luck this weekend.
Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Dr. Grant Woods and his popular on-demand web series that shares current information about deer hunting and deer management. The free videos focus on what the GrowingDeer team of experienced hunters and deer managers are doing in the field week to week, including action-packed hunts, proven hunting strategies, habitat management, food plots, trail camera techniques and the gear it takes to get it all done.
Video and image by Dr. Grant Woods