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You will need a fairly well matched set of deer antlers. Medium to large sized antlers, with 3 or 4 points on each side (not counting the brow tines), seem to work best. (See illustration above). Remove the brow tines and smooth off any sharp points and edges. About two weeks before you plan to use your natural rattling antlers, place them in a bucket of water and let them soak until you use them. This will replenish their natural moisture and they will sound more realistic. If you don't have access to natural antlers, you can purchase artificial rattling antlers at most deer hunting supply outlets. To avoid self-inflicted hand damage always wear gloves while rattling antlers. Before your go into the field, spray your antlers with a scent neutralizer.
Carefully choose your rattling location. Most bucks will try to get downwind of the rattling noise.
They want to smell what's going on before they show themselves.
Set up your rattling location close to an open area. This will help keep the buck from
circling downwind, because bucks are reluctant to travel through open areas in the daylight.
Antler rattling with a friend can improve your success rate. Set the hunter about 40-60 yards downwind of the rattler. When the bucks are circling to get downwind, the hunter will be there to intercept them.
Remember to always choose an antler rattling location that provides good downwind visibility, because the majority of bucks responding to antler rattling will approach your location from downwind. Rattling from an elevated stand or tree stand works well. This elevated position will increase the area that you can watch.
The best time of day for antler rattling is in the first 3 hours of daylight. Your next best time is the last 3 hours of daylight. Mid-day is the least productive time of day to do your antler rattling.
What is the best antler rattling weather? If you could choose the perfect antler rattling day, it would be cool, the winds would be calm and the sky would be overcast. Deer become nervous, on windy days, because they have much wind related noises to worry about.
Bucks don't respond well to antler rattling on windy days.
The rut also has an important effect on how well bucks respond to antler rattling. Rattling is most effective during the peak of the rut, followed in order by the post rut and then by the pre-rut. During all rutting periods middle aged bucks come to antler rattling in much higher numbers than young bucks or old bucks.
The pre rut and post rut will be your best chance to rattle in a large mature buck, followed by the the peek rut period. The large mature bucks do most of the breeding and are busy chasing does during the peak rut period.
Now that you are in place you can start rattling. Hold one antler in each hand (see the illustration above).
Early Season Rattling - The bucks have just shed their velvet and are starting to establish dominance amongst the local buck population. They do a lot of posturing and pushing, but no heavy fighting yet. Lightly tickle the antler tips together for a minute or two, wait 10-15 minutes, then try again. Save the heavy stuff for the rut periods.
Pre-Rut Rattling -You are trying to simulate two bucks fighting, so be aggressive. Your rattling should have loud and intense antler clashing and rattling sound, followed by some antler tickling, then intense clashing and rattling again. You should also use the antlers to stomp and scrape the ground and to rake and thrash the near-by brush or tree limbs. Continue your antler rattling for 2-3 minutes then put the antlers down and pick up your rifle or bow and be ready for action. Repeat your antler rattling about every 10-15 minutes.
Peak Rut Rattling - When two dominant bucks meet during the peak of the rut, they really go at it. Your rattling should simulate such a fight, with lots of loud antler clashing and rattling, followed by some ground stomping and scraping. You can also use your antlers to stomp and scrape the ground and to rake and thrash the near-by brush or tree limbs. Continue your antler rattling for 2-3 minutes then put the antlers down and pick up your rifle or bow and be ready for action. Repeat your antler rattling about every 10-15 minutes.
Post Rut Rattling - By now most does have been bred, but some of them didn't take and will be coming back into season. The dominant bucks won't want to miss out on these few does. Your rattling should simulate a good fight, with lots of loud antler clashing and rattling, followed by some antler tickling, then clashing and rattling again. You can also use your antlers to stomp and scrape the ground and to rake and thrash the near-by brush or tree limbs. Continue your antler rattling for 2-3 minutes then put the antlers down and pick up your rifle or bow and be ready for action. Repeat your antler rattling about every 10-15 minutes.
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