Try something new this fall: sneak, rattle & bow

I enjoy bowhunting from the ground. Stillhunting with a bow can be very exciting. Many good deer hunters have the ability and patience for stillhunting.

Most of the good ones that I have been with have very similar approaches to this method of hunting. They sit on a stand for a couple of hours each morning, then stillhunt through the middle of the day, and end-up back on a stand again at dusk.

Author Mike Roux uses antler rattling at opportune times to take really nice bucks.

This process can be productive. I have modified it a bit however, and have had great results.

It is an established fact that deer move ore at dawn and dusk. I like to move, stillhunting, at those same times. I figure if the buck and I are both moving, I double my chances of our paths crossing. If I just sit and wait on him, he may move by me just out of sight.

I also increase my odds of finding a buck by rattling as I stillhunt. Antler rattlin’ is the oldest form of deer calling. Over the past decade or so grunt calls, bleat calls and snort calls have been added, but rattlin’ for big bucks is still very productive.

There are, however, some keys to being successful at rattlin’. Just picking up a set of antlers and banging them together is not going to cut it.

Timing is the secret to rattlin’. I do not mean time of day, but rather time of year. More specifically, time of rut cycle. The biggest mistake deer hunters make when they rattle is doing it at the wrong time.

Common sense would tell you that you should rattle at the time of year when you hear and see the most bucks fighting. This time common sense could lead you astray.

Most mature, dominant buck fights occur during the peak of the rut. If you are going to see or hear two big bucks fight in our region, it will probably be in the first two weeks of November.

So we can assume that since this is when the big boys fight, this is also a good time to rattle, to imitate one of those fights. This assumption is dead wrong. Let me illustrate why.

In the fall of the year, after bucks have shed their velvet, a process of “dominance alignment” begins in a deer herd. Each buck must seek out and challenge every other buck in the area to establish their exact place in the pecking order. This usually occurs during the month of October.

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