Rattling for deer - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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Rattling for deer

I'm in a debate with my hunting buddy. He claims it doesn't work on PA buck. What success have you guys had? Yes no, rattle bags, plastic horns, real horns.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 10:05 PM
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I've used real and fake horns, no luck, I've used a rattle bag and have had success. I talked to a guy from Texas about it and he told me the key to rattling is to realize a lot more deer show up than you'll ever see or know. I've had more than a few bucks come in, but not often. It will work in PA, it just has to be at the right time with the right bucks.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 10:05 PM
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I've had lots of success over the years when I can see a buck passing out of range and can watch his reaction to my rattling. I can't tell you how many I've brought in, its been a bunch. I shot a few of them. Blind rattling has only ever worked a few times. I always use real antlers.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-29-2017, 11:34 PM
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One heck of a year with the Rattling Antlers

In my opinion every year is different when rattling here in Pa. I've had success in the past at certain points throughout the season but more times than not, I haven't seen a big response. This year is different though. Since last Tuesday, Oct 17, I have rattled in 11 different bucks and it seemed to taper off this past Friday and Saturday. Keep in mind they were'nt all shooters but that kind of response has my head spinning. I've never had the kind of response to rattling like I've had this year. I don't rattle a lot, or very loud at this point in the season, but I've come to the conclusion that timing is everything. As a matter of fact last Wednesday I had my 8 year old daughter in the two man stand with me and she asked to use the antlers. So I gave her a quick lesson and let her have at it. 5-10 minutes later a 120-130" 8 pt came walking through the pines. he stopped at 42 yards but wouldn't come out of the pines to give me a shot. He made two scrapes, stared in our direction for a few minutes then walked back down into the hollow with a doe. She was SUPER PUMPED knowing that she rattled him in. Point is, try it. You never know whats going to happen. Just take the temperature of the deer and try to mimick where they're at. At this point of the season, I wouldn't be having all out battles hammering the antlers together but thats coming soon. I usually go for about 30 seconds and increase in volume throughout the set. I also try to grind the antlers more than slam them together. These are just my thoughts on the topic. Again this may just be one of those years but so far, it has worked well for me.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-30-2017, 08:42 PM
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I have probably rattled 20 times in my whole archery career. I have 2 vivid memories of it working, both were pretty awesome encounters. I am mostly trying to not let the deer know I am in the woods so I rarely use any calls but I know lots of people that swear by it, especially earlier in the season.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-31-2017, 01:51 PM
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I don't know if anyone listens to the Mississippi State University Deer University podcasts but they are full of great information regarding everything deer. Here is a link to a recent podcast on the science of antler rattling. This pretty much sums up my experiences with rattling. The dissertation that this comes from is also available from the University of GA library website if anyone is interested in reading it.

Episode 013 - The Science of Antler Rattling | Mississippi State University Extension Service


65% of bucks responded to rattling but you often don't know they are responding. On the ground, you will probably miss two thirds of the bucks that actually respond simply because you cant't see them respond. Rattling caused 100% of radio-collared bucks to respond.

Loud aggressive rattling is better than quite "tickling" rattling that is often written about in magazines.

Mornings were better than afternoons which were better than mid-day. Mornings are probably better than mid-day because bucks tend to be more active in the morning or evening and more likely to be within ear shot of you when you rattle.

Most bucks responded within 10 minutes of the first rattling.

Peak rut is the best time to rattle followed by post rut which was better than pre-rut. Peak rut tended to bring in more younger and middle aged deer where post rut rattling tended to attract the most older bucks.

The last point was rattling will work everywhere (even PA!) but it is highly dependent upon your buck population, buck to doe ratio, and a balanced buck age structure.

I've only recently got into loosing my fear of making noise during prime times and have had quite a bit of success so far. I started about 4 years ago and rattling has helped be bag 4 good bucks and I have had 1 other small buck come in as well as a few doe.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 06:29 AM
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I've rattled up 5 in the last ten years. 1 8point, 2 5's, a spike, and even one button buck. Like said in one post above, it works sometimes.

I gotta go agitate the techies!
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 07:41 AM
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I've rattled in and killed a big 8 in late October a couple years ago. Only success I've had rattling, but one time is all it takes.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 08:03 AM
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Just like everything else (scents, estrus bleat, grunt call, etc.), some times they worked and brought them in, other times no luck. I'm usually doing it when nothing else seems to work. Every one that has come in for me has come in quiet, trying to figure out what was happening. I've only had luck with real antlers, remember reading something about deer hearing the difference in pitch between a real antler and rattle bag. Not sure if that is accurate, but I have noticed them come into real antlers and not the bag.

Take an older friend hunting or fishing - they're the reason we do what we do!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-02-2017, 08:05 AM
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I have never had any luck when I try to rattle but this happened to me purely by accident.

I went in fairly early one afternoon to clear out some dead cedars and put in a climber. I knocked down a dead dried up cedar that snapped off limbs on the way down. As I was dragging the tree away I hear grunting and deer running. Two young non-shooters, a spike and a scrub rack raced in to about 15-20 yards. I froze and just watched. It was pretty entertaining. They eventually got a nose full of me and got out of there.

Last edited by lefteye; 11-02-2017 at 08:09 AM.
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