Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Call and Rattle In Rutting Bucks

© By Othmar Vohringer

In all fairness it needs to be said that there are places where rattling and calling simply does not work well, mostly because deer wised up to the excessive amount of fake buck fighting and calling. This holds especially true on public land. It also holds true in areas where the buck to doe ratio is skewed in favor of the does. In such areas, which is almost everywhere were deer are not managed for an equal buck to doe ratio, bucks simply have no need to fight for breeding rights.

Yet, even in areas with skewed buck to doe ratios you can have success with calling and rattling a buck to your stand. Forget about aggressive calling and mimicking life-and-death buck battles. Instead tone it down a notch or two. Instead of aggressive rattling stick to “tickling” the antlers together, mimicking a sparring match between two bucks. This is often all it takes to get a buck curious and come investigating. Actually to tell the truth, I have much more success with gentle rattling than with banging aggressively the antlers together. My thinking is that even a large buck would rather come to investigate a sparring match than a full blown fight where he has to risk getting his butt kicked.

What applies for rattling also applies for calling. My experience is that many hunters make three mistakes when calling deer. These are; calling to loud, calling too often and to aggressive. Deer are gentle creatures that don’t like to be yelled at they also do not talk nonstop with each other and are seldom aggressive. When I call deer I strictly call deer that I can see. Blind calling has seldom worked for me. To call in bucks during the rut I stick to soft doe bleats. I keep it short, no more than two to three bleats and then I put the call away. If the buck hears the call he will either respond or not. If he doesn’t respond more calling will rarley change his mind. In fact I found quite often that by calling more the buck becomes suspicious and either walks away or if he does come in will hang up in thick cover.

How you’re set up will also play a big role in how effective deer calling and rattling works. Setting up a stand on deer trail intersections and near funnels yields the best results, deer rarely go out of their way to investigate a call. In the morning stands near doe bedding area are a good choice as bucks will frequent these places in the search of does. In the evening take a stand near a doe feeding area as the bucks will be hanging out there too. While it is true that bucks travel constantly during the rut they do not so randomly. The bucks know where the different groups of does bed and feed and they cruse from one group to the next on established routes. In other words, where the does are bucks aren’t too far from them.With that said, stick with the does and the bucks will not be far away.


Tone your calling and rattling down a notch or two. Set up near the does because that is where the bucks will be too and if you want to make the illusion perfect to fool a buck with rattling and calling use a decoy as well. Attract a buck by sound and then confirm what he heard by providing him with a visual stimuli.

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