My most reliable indicator that the rut is nigh is the presence of wide-eyed “orphaned” fawns, running frenzied across fields in the daylight. Of course, they aren’t orphaned at all. Their mama is being heckled by a buck and the kids are pushed away, and their world is upended.

Here in eastern Illinois, I saw my first headlong fawn on Monday, and that was my cue to sit a stand all day, knowing that noon can be just as productive as daybreak. That’s because it’s not only the fawns that are stirred up. The bucks are prowling, too, tuned to any action.

It’s my favorite time to rattle, and in two days I’ve reeled in 7 bucks by shattering the stillness of the hardwoods, bashing my Knight & Hale Pack Rack until my knuckles are bruised.

My rattling strategy is to imitate the sound of two bucks sparring about every hour after the morning activity slows down. I generally bash the horns for a solid 30 seconds, escalating in intensity, then break for maybe five seconds, then repeat for maybe 10 seconds. I add some hearty grunts from my tube to sound like two good-sized bucks really pushing each other around.

If any does or fawns are around, I wait for them to drift off before commencing the rattling set.

If there’s a downside to this commotion-making, it’s that it seems to mainly appeal to younger bucks. I’ve had a forkhorn, a couple 3x3s, and smaller 8s respond, but no big bruisers. As I’m typing this on my phone from the treestand, I just rattled in a broken-down 3×4, with the tips of two tines broken off, presumably from his own sparring.

I’ll keep rattling all day from this spot. It certainly helps pass the hours, and there’s always the chance that a magnum buck will swagger in, ready to kick the jenkees out of what he thinks are bucks horning in on his territory.