Rattling and decoying are my favorite ways to hunt whitetails.
This is an area where people seem to have the most questions when I visit with them as short shows. The most important aspect is to stay at it and do not give up. Nothing works all the time, but there are things that will help your success. Below are 10 key points to remember and implement in your setup.
Scent Elimination: Scent is a big deal when hunting from the ground. The last thing you want to do is attract a big buck in with rattling, then let him smell you. Spray down thoroughly before heading out and always keep the wind in your face!
Trail Cameras: Hunting where you know that deer are in the area can be very helpful. When rattling you will often have to make a split-second decision so it’s nice if you have photos of bucks in the area. This helps make that quick decision easier and also keeps you excited to get out there and get after the deer.
Bench Practice: All your hard work and persistence will help make that moment of truth happen, but ultimately it’s time on the bench that will help seal the deal. Take some time both before season and during the season to shoot your gun often. This will help ensure you’re comfortable when that chance finally arises. Also ensure you’re choosing an ammunition that will get the job done. I use Deer Season XP because it was specifically built for taking down big bucks. Winchester puts a ton of time, effort and innovation behind all their products. You can be confident you’re shooting the very best with their species specific loads.
Shooting Sticks: Having a steady rest is key. I like to use a tripod shooting stick any chance I get. In fact, now there’s a new one out called the DeathGrip that actually holds your gun in place allowing you to have your hands-free rattling and the gun is always at the ready. This is by far the steadiest rest I’ve ever used in the field, and it really worked out well!
Location: Rattling shouldn’t be done just anywhere. I recommend finding a very thick section where deer bed and slowly working your way into the area. Keep the wind in your favor and just ease into position being careful not to bump deer. When you find a place to setup, ensure you have some back cover and also look around for open shooting lanes and places where there are less obstacles like other trees or bushes in your way that may obstruct your shot.
Attractant Scents: I like to hang a few key wicks or spray some Golden Estrus from a spray bottle around the area to help fool the bucks nose as well. This will help add to the realism of your entire setup. Bucks fight because there’s a hot doe ready. Make certain it smells like a hot doe in the area.
Patience: Waiting it out is key when rattling. It’s so easy to rattle, see a couple young bucks then assume everything from the area has come in and it’s time to move on. Remember, big bucks are cautious. They’re careful and they don’t always come charging in. Give it time and continually scan the area for a buck standing in the shadows watching.
Realism: When setting up to rattle always think about the order that would go down during a real fight. Do a couple grunts, then a snort wheeze followed up by an all-out brawl. Hit trees, stomp on the ground, run around and rake bushes. Really stir the place up while you rattle. Then as soon as you’re done, get on your gun and get ready!
Adapt: Any method of hunting usually requires the ability to adapt. The ability to adapt is what I believe sets an exceptional hunter apart from an average hunter. Things will not always go right. Sometimes, deer won’t react or commit. Be very aware of surroundings and try new things. If something is working, keep doing it and even try expanding upon it.
Confidence: Just like anything, you can’t expect immediate results every time. Be confident in what you’re doing and your own hunting ability. Stick with it. Eventually, you’ll find success. As always, learn from mistakes! No problem if you mess things up, just learn from them and don’t repeat the mistakes twice!
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With a degree in broadcast journalism, Melissa set sights on a career in the outdoors. Traveling over 300 days a year to shoot for Winchester Deadly Passion, Bachman considers this her “dream job.” With a love for children, industry trade shows and the great outdoors, she films around the world for her adrenaline-pumped series.