The Day the Rattle Worked by Randy Rowley


As with most products and tactics that claim to make a hunter quieter, less smelly, invisible, or that will bring the deer into your blind with you, I’m as skeptical as the next guy.  However, one idea that I was introduced to several years ago seemed to make sense.  The idea is fairly simple.  One just needs to take two deer antlers (or fake antlers) and beat them together until they break or you do.  Supposedly, buck deer will believe that two other bucks are fighting and will charge in to run the rivals off or maybe sneak off with the doe that the other bucks are fighting over.

I tried this tactic two or three times several years ago but gave it up when all I received for my efforts were sore hands.  However, like many ideas that come and go, rattling made a comeback in 1990.  All the outdoors magazines were again touting it as the thing to do.  So I, like many others, dug out the old antlers from the garage and prepared to give it another whirl.

It was lukewarm on the morning of November the 15th and the fog was as thick as pea soup.  I sat in a box blind for 2 1/2 hours staring at the white fluff.  Nothing was moving, not even a squirrel.  The fog finally rolled away around 9:00 AM.  Although it was not yet the rut, which is prime rattling time, and I hadn’t seen any bucks, which is when rattling works the best, I reasoned that the bucks in my neck of the woods had probably already gone to that magical place where all bucks go after 8:00 in the morning.  So I decided that I didn’t have much to lose.

Crack!  The sound of the two antlers crashing together interrupted the silence and made a flock of dove take flight, screaming in alarm.  I waited about four seconds and did it again.  I’ve never witnessed two bucks get it on in person but I’ve seen them fight many times on videos.  Their altercations are not gentle.  They crash together like two 8-point sports cars.  Buck fights are violent, loud, and sometimes fatal.  Although sometimes rattling gently is the way to go, most hunters make the mistake of rattling too quietly.

After banging the antlers together a couple more times, I started to twist and tangle them together.  This mimics bucks that have their horns locked up.  I waited about half a minute and then crashed them together again.  This mimics bucks that had temporarily separated and then crashed into each other again.  I didn’t rattle long – no more than five minutes.  I decided to wait 10 minutes and then try it again.

Eight minutes later I saw movement around 150 yards away.  A buck was coming straight towards me at a fast trot.  His nose was to the ground and his ears were laid back.  I had no doubt that he was looking for what he thought were two bucks fighting.  He stopped around 100 yards away and looked around.  He looked like he had six points.  Even though he was young, I decided to take him.  My 120 grain .25-06 bullet went straight through his heart.  He ran off so I waited half an hour for him to bed down and die.  I found him around 100 yards from where I shot him.  He actually was a five pointer.

Although the first buck that I rattled in wasn’t very big, like my first dove and my first deer, I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life.

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If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.