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Outdoors blog

Buck rattling technique refined

A big whitetail buck peeks out of the cover, where he's hidden successfully from hunters for several years.  (Rich Landers)
A big whitetail buck peeks out of the cover, where he's hidden successfully from hunters for several years. (Rich Landers)

 HUNTING -- It's down to the wire for Eastern Washington rifle hunters trying to put their crosshairs on a whitetail buck. The late season ends Friday. Idaho hunters have through Dec. 1 in some areas.

But while time's waning, you have one thing on your side: The rut is in full swing and big bucks are moving, even in the daylight.

Big bucks locked on to receptive does can be vulnerable simply because their guard is down.

But some hunters elect to be pro-active, using rattling techniques to lure bucks into the open. Here are some timely tips from Texas deer hunting expert James Kroll, a.k.a Dr. Deer:

 Note:  A big buck locked on to a receptive doe can be difficult to lure away. But before and between, they're game for a showdown.

 "Rattling is like a bass fisherman working structure," Kroll explained this week to Ray Sasser fo the Dallas Morning News. "When I start out in the morning, I have a predetermined rattling route. I may not rattle up a buck at the first spot, just like a bass fisherman doesn’t catch a fish on every good piece of structure. For a fisherman, success is a function of how many times he casts his lure in a good spot and rattling is the same way. Just because it doesn’t work on your first stop doesn’t mean it won’t work the next place."

When you pick a spot to rattle, give some thought to how a buck will come in and where you will take the shot. The deer will almost always try to circle downwind. Set up so you have open lanes the deer will have to cross to get downwind.

 Rattling only works during a short window of activity. Keep an eye on the scrapes. When fresh scrapes seem to be everywhere, the bucks are establishing dominance. That’s when they come to the sounds of a fight.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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