So before you say “this guy is obviously off his rocker”, I think I can change your mind.
We all know rattling works – I have my Ruttin’ Buck Rattling Bag on me at all times. It’s compact and quiet during transport and has a good tone to it when I use it in the woods. But did you know that through scientific research, deer biologists have discovered there is a best time and best way to rattle? The results may surprise you.
In a study by Dr. Mickey Hellickson at a roughly 7500 acre preserve with 17 observation towers in Texas, he did a 3 year study to help you become a better hunter. (He’s also the Wildlife Biologist at “King Ranch” in Texas, which encompasses an area larger than the state of RI.) The study sought to find what kind of rattling had the most effectiveness as well as what time of day and season. They tried pre-rut, rut and post-rut as well as different times of the day.
They used 4 types of common rattling sequences:
- 1 minute soft, kind of a tickling the tines followed by 9 minutes of quiet.
- 1 minute hard and 9 minutes of quiet
- 3 minute soft and 7 minutes or quiet.
- And 3 minutes hard and 7 minutes of quiet
To summarize the study here is what they found out:
- The louder the better. After the 3 minute sequence you should be worn out from rattling. That’s how loud it should be. 3x as many bucks came into the loud sequences vs the soft sequences. This was surprising as I wouldn’t have thought it sounded “real” in the woods.
- Second best was the 1 minute sequence with 9 minutes of silence
- You should do more than 1 sequence as well. The study showed 25% success even on the 3 sequence. So stay put for 30 minutes while rattling.
- The best time to rattle was right away in the morning with a peak from 7:30-10am. This is also a period of high activity for bucks and could have a correlation. The worst time was midday.
- The highest success rate for bucks coming in was during the rut followed by the second rut and then pre-rut.
- The largest number of mature bucks showed up during the post-rut though. The bucks that showed up during the rut were normally 1-2 year old bucks. Some assumptions were made that most mature bucks were bedded with does already. This mirrors my experience as well in the woods. My most effective rattling for mature bucks has always been post rut. Many a deer have fell with some rattling and a deer decoy late season by me.
Digging into the data has me changing my game plan for this fall. I plan on banging my Ruttin’ Buck Rattling Bag as loud as I can for significantly longer than I have been. Whether it’s against the tree, in your hands or against your fist, the harder the surface the louder the noise.. If you use a wrist release like myself, I put the shaft of the release in my hand and pound the Ruttin’ Bag against it. It’s louder than your other hand banging against it.
I also believe you need to crank up the volume on your deer calls. You want to make sure as many deer as possible hear the grunt or growls.
Lastly don’t just sit and be quiet in the AM. Get that bag rattlin’!
– Ryan Aulenbacher