Rattle Tales

Four whitetail masters share their secrets for using sound to lure bucks in close.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Mark Drury |Geography Matters
I'm really picky about the spots I choose to rattle from. One of the worst places to rattle is in a low area surrounded by ridges because it will certainly mess with your wind. I set up stands specifically for calling. They're high on the local topography and mostly positioned over brushy areas where I can see way out, maybe 200 to 400 yards. The brush has to be upwind of me. Ideally, the geography makes it really hard for a buck to get downwind of you-a fence is a great barrier for this.

My favorite times to rattle are the last week of October and the first and last weeks of November. These have been the most productive times for me.

Jay Gregory | Visual Calling
I used to do a lot of blind rattling, but not so much anymore. I want to see the deer before I call, to help control the situation. If I have him in sight, I can let him get into a position that is more advantageous for me. I try to hit him with a bleat first, then a grunt, and then I rattle with the horns. But a deer will come only if he's in the mood. It could be that he just got his butt kicked and doesn't want anything to do with a fight.

Early in the season, when hunting bedding areas, you might have to rattle blind, but try to position yourself so your back is to a river or another geographic feature that prevents a buck from getting downwind of you without showing himself.

John Wootters | Don't Rush It
One of the biggest mistakes would-be rattlers make is being too impatient. If you're calling while still-hunting, give it some time before moving on. The best and wisest bucks are generally wary. They will invariably approach from the downwind side and come in cautiously.

I rattle in three segments. First I rattle not too loudly, just in case I've gotten in close to a deer. I'll then wait four or five minutes and rattle all out and wait another five minutes or so and rattle all out again. After this I'll wait for 10 or 15 minutes and repeat the sequence. You will almost always kill your deer downwind. There will be exceptions, but the exceptions will be younger bucks.

Michael Hanback | Timing Is Everything
Ten years ago people would talk about sparring in October, the idea being that you might be able to tickle the interest of a buck and bring it in. That's bull. Deer have to be in a rut mode for you to rattle them in successfully, so you're looking at the peak of the rut, which is November 7 to 20 in most parts of the country. If you rattle a week or two early, you're going to spook more deer than you'll ever call in. The same goes for after the rut. Once it's over, it's over.

When you do rattle, rattle hard in short bursts. Make it as hard and as loud as you can. Don't be afraid to make too much noise. You can't.