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Rattling Whitetail Deer

Rattling Whitetail Deer

During the fall of 2001 I had climbed a steep ridge to hang a treestand in an area where I knew several large whitetail deer were traveling a ridge ramp in route to a food plot. I had patterned a couple huge whitetail bucks in this area. In 2001 it was common to use screw in tree steps rather than climbing sticks. After working diligently for an hour I had successfully screwed approximately 25 tree steps into the trunk of the tree, and was ready to hang the treestand. This would be the very location I would position a hunter to intercept the whitetail buck of a lifetime. I climbed to the bottom of the tree and fastened a rope onto the treestand. I grabbed the free end of the rope and climbed back into position to hang the treestand which laid on the forest floor beneath the tree. I began pulling the rope attached to the treestand to my elevated position. As I have hoisted the treestand to my elevated position so that I could hang the treestand and it clanged in a deep tone many times against the tree steps rather loudly echoing throughout the wood lot. After hoisting the treestand to myself I grabbed it to a fix it to the trunk of the tree.

Suddenly a 6th sense came upon me and I felt like I was being watched. It was an erie feeling. I looked around the area and was fascinated at what was transpiring without my knowledge. Within bow range three huge whitetail bucks stood broadside sternly looking the area over. It took me many minutes to realize these big whitetail bucks had charged into the area because the sounds of the treestand hitting the tree steps as I had pulled it to my position had fooled the bucks into believing a fight was taking place on their home territory. How could it be I have rattled three monster whitetail bucks within bow range with the sounds of a treestand clanging against the tree steps I had placed within the trunk of the mighty whitetail tree?

Unfortunately rattling whitetail deer isn’t this easy. This was a fluke. Also take note that this phenomenon took place nearly 10 years ago.

Over the course of this article we will examine how to rattle whitetail bucks, call whitetail deer with grunt calls, examine the usage of doe in heat can calls, discuss the evolution of whitetail deer and how susceptible they have become too these type of deer calls, with an emphasis on rattling whitetail deer.

RATTLING WHITETAIL DEER How do I rattle in a whitetail deer?

Let us speak as novice whitetail deer hunters for a moment. To rattle a whitetail deer is an essence the hunter clashing two deer antlers together in hopes any nearby whitetail buck will hear the sounds produced and come trotting in to offer the whitetail deer hunter a shot opportunity. While there are many ways, sequences, variety of rattling tools, and techniques we will visit during this article my belief is that while rattling whitetail deer does work on occasions and frequently in certain regions, my personal belief is that the whitetail deer hunter seeking a mature buck needs to seriously consider whether or not to attempt such a feat, no matter how entertaining rattling whitetail deer might be.

Association is the process of forming mental connections between sensations, ideas, or memories by both animals and humans. The reason I caution whitetail deer hunters who seek to harvest trophy bucks by means of rattling whitetail deer is due to the aforementioned definition of association. This is a process by which animals either associates safety or danger by means of their senses. Let us visit an example. Let us imagine for a moment a worker who rushes to his deer stand from the factory he works in each evening. Let us further imagine that factory the worker laborers in is in the business of manufacturing automobile tires. One evening after work the worker rushes to his deer stand an after hunting for a couple hours misses a shot with his bow and arrow at a world class whitetail buck. By means of association if this particular animal is smart enough it will associate the smell of rubber tires with danger. Therefore one can assume that rattling for whitetail deer if done in an area that has been hunted often with the technique of rattling whitetail deer for harvest it is quite possible mature whitetail bucks have associated the mere sounds of rattling with danger and will not respond to such calls but rather retreat.

Another problem is posed by the whitetail deer hunter who attempts to rattle whitetail deer. Oftentimes whitetail bucks and the home territory have a dominant animal which rules overall other bucks in that range. Many times the dominant buck is not the biggest buck in that area. Thus when a big buck hears rattling of whitetail deer or sounds of two whitetail bucks fighting in the woods he will purposely not come into the area which the sounds are coming from because he is afraid he will be attacked.

Therefore in the story I mentioned above over 10 years ago which occurred in pike county Illinois whitetail deer were so susceptible to rattling whitetail deer that merely the sounds of a treestand clanging against metal treesteps drew them in for a potential harvest opportunity. However as of January 1, 2010 over 350 outfitters inhabit Illinois for deer hunting. You can be rest assured many whitetail deer hunters have rattled whitetail deer time and time again, developing skills for the whitetail deer to associate rattling a whitetail deer with danger. The truth is in some areas of the United States one of the quickest ways to educate whitetail deer to your position is to rattle for whitetail deer. Perhaps 10 years ago rattling for whitetail deer was a tad more effective. Personally I only will rattle for a whitetail deer if I see a huge buck that is walking in the opposite direction and I am sure he is not going to come my way to offer a shot. With the modern hunting television industry remember that many of the products and tools used to harvest a whitetail buck are often times filmed after the deer is already dead. In other words don’t believe everything you see on outdoor television.

Perhaps you would like an example. Years ago in television crew killed a nice buck with us in pike county Illinois while hunting whitetail deer. A couple hours after I had placed them in a treestand they phoned me to announce they had successfully harvested a record-book buck. I arrived at the scene within 15 minutes. For the next 30 minutes I watched the host of this show rewind an watch the footage of the kill over and over and over. I became bored with the host watching the footage over and over in the field so many times that I finally asked him why he was watching the footage a over and over. He then turned to me and said “watch this”. What the host of the television show had been doing was memorizing each and every step the deer had taken while walking into his tree stand. The filming crew with the whitetail deer lying just yards away as dead as the hammer, began to film the host pouring out deer lure on the path the whitetail buck had walked in on. The host of the television show did this so viewers would see him placing the deer lure out prior to harvesting a whitetail buck so television viewers would go buy the deer lure. Then the television host climbed back up into his tree stand and began using several other products, placing that footage before the deer harvest so that television viewers would believe those products were effective as well. Again I say, don’t believe everything you see on outdoor television.

Let us now visit some information regarding rattling whitetail deer prior to me informing the reader what method I would use to rattle whitetail deer.

Rattling and calling whitetail deer is probably one of the oldest methods for calling up that monster buck. One of the keys to rattling up a buck is timing. Rattle too early in the rut, and you won't get any bucks. Rattle too late, and the peak of the rut will be over.

The yearly rut is a complex cycle of hormone fluctuation in both does and bucks. Early in the rut, testosterone production in bucks begins to slowly increase. In the early rut, scrapes are numerous. Young bucks will be strengthening their neck muscles and scraping off velvet from new antler growth. During this phase, tentative rattling against trees and brush may bring in a curious buck, but most bachelor groups are still intact in this phase, and most bucks won't be curious enough to investigate.

As scrape activity increases, deer begin to show heavy musculature in their necks. This is when rattling may begin to produce curious bucks. Bucks in this phase will tentatively challenge each other with half hearted challenges. Sparring at this point is weak, with bucks gently bringing their heads together and lightly rattling while pushing back and forth. Sparring matches are short, lasting only a few seconds before the two bucks disengage and look around to see what interest they've sparked from nearby bachelors. At this point, rattling to attract bucks may work, but response will be slow and curiosity low.

As sparring increases, a half dozen matches may break out at the same time in a decently sized herd. Bucks at this phase will begin to respond to the sound of another buck scraping his antlers on a tree or engaging another buck. This is the point at which rattling will begin to be effective. Your technique at this point should involve light, short half-hearted rattles combined with scraping your rattlers on trees and brush. Combined with appropriate grunting, you may be able to draw in a curious buck.

As the bachelor groups break up, sparring begins to be replaced with serious fights and challenges. Bucks no longer tolerate the presence of another buck, and will challenge any who they find in their area. This is when rattling can bring a curious buck charging in to see what interlopers are in his territory. By observing scrape activity, you should be able to pinpoint when this period of the rut arrives. Scrapes along fields and trails will have reached a peak. Antlers on bucks will be polished, and their necks will be bulging with heavy musculature from all of the scraping and sparring activity of the past few weeks.

Increased vocal activity is another thing to watch for. As the heat of the rut approaches, males will begin to vocalize loudly and frequently, advertising their presence to any nearby does, and warning off competing bucks. Fights between competing bucks is now a deadly affair, with bucks trying to kill each other in earnest. This is prime rattling time.

Doe activity changes dramatically as the peak of the rut approaches. Before the rut, does will frequently be accompanied by last years young. But, as the heat of the rut comes on, they will run off the youngsters, leaving them wandering around appearing lost and perplexed. Does seen without accompanying young is a sure sign that the peak of the rut is right around the corner.

Occasionally, a second rut will come, as does who have not been bred come into heat again and continue to search for a buck. Does come into estrus every 28 days, so careful observation of the previous rut may reveal the prime time to hunt during a secondary rut.

Deer investigating a fight won't generally come in from an upwind position. They will generally try to circle around and approach from downwind. This increases the chance that you'll get "scented" by incoming deer and potentially scare them away. By properly setting up your hunting position, you can increase the chance that you'll spot the deer and be able to engage them before they scent or spot you.

Try to set up on the edge of a field with the wind blowing in from the field. Deer that are in your cover will try to circle around, but won't want to go out into the open of the field. If you don't have a nearby field, set up so that you have some decent shooting lanes that an investigating deer has to pass through while trying to circle around. Make sure you have adequate cover. Deer have incredibly accurate hearing and can pinpoint noise to within just a few feet. That buck will come in and zero in on your position, expecting to see another buck, so make sure you have enough camouflage and cover. Sometimes placing a decoy nearby will be enough to get your target to linger long enough for you to get the shot off.

There are a number of rattling techniques. Many hunters swear by natural antlers and insist that the natural sound of them clashing together cannot be replicated. Still, many have great success with synthetic rattlers. Synthetic rattlers are often safer, since they are smoothed down and don't have the points and sharp edges of natural antlers. Hunters who insist on using natural antlers often cut the points off and smooth the sharp edges to avoid injuring their hands and fingers while vigorously rattling. One new innovation is the Rattle Bag which allows one handed rattling, perfect for hunters in a tree stand.

Deer have incredibly acute hearing. Fights between bucks at the peak of the rut are no-holds-barred affairs. They're noisy enough to draw bucks from over a mile away. While some fights are short, others are long and drawn out, sometimes lasting for as long as 6 to 8 hours. Bucks are very vocal during fights, moaning, grunting, wheezing and bellowing as they summon up the strength to defeat the challenger. As you rattle, stomp and kick the ground and nearby brush. This is when you should be trying to make as much noise as possible!

On hearing a fight, younger deer tend to come charging in quickly to challenge the winner. Older bucks tend to be a bit more cautious and slower to respond, but they will come. Older deer tend to slink in with more care, preferring to observe the challenge unnoticed. It's not unusual for an older buck to try to sneak off with a nearby doe while the two fighting bucks obliviously continue their challenge.

Don't be too anxious to move on to a new location if rattling doesn't produce bucks right away. While younger less mature bucks may come running at the sound of a fight, older bucks respond much slower and more cautiously. If a short rattle doesn't produce, try rattling for longer periods. If you are off peak, rattle for short periods, 30-60 seconds, then wait for at least 30 minutes. If that still doesn't attract any bucks, try it again for 90 seconds or so and then wait again for at least an hour.

Here is another expert’s opinion on rattling in whitetail bucks. Rattling in a whitetail is an unbelievable adrenaline rush. Some bucks come charging in, hair up and ready to fight. Others slink in quietly, preferring to size up the situation before committing to action. But regardless of how they respond, bucks always put on a spectacular show when they answer your horns.

Many bowhunters are aware of the thrill factor in rattling, and they use it above all other forms of calling. And it's no wonder. Rattling is relatively simple to learn, and it's a trophy tested method of calling. But, as this column will detail, there's more to rattling than banging an old rack together. Rattling has its negative points, and there are a few things you need to know to be consistently successful at it.

Non-Aggressive Calling is a Better Bet
Rattling can be highly effective, but for most bowhunters it is rarely as effective as non-aggressive calling. (See deer grunting 101 to learn about a variety of non-aggressive calls). Gary Cook, an expert caller and game biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says this is because of skewed buck to doe ratios.

"In some deer populations, such as those in South Texas or Kansas, aggressive calling can be very effective," details Cook. "This is because the buck-to-doe ratio is high in these areas, and bucks must compete, i.e. be aggressive, to breed the available does. But this is an unusual situation in most deer populations. Most of us are hunting on land where the ratio of bucks to does is very low. This results in most bucks having ample opportunity to breed. They don't need to be aggressive to get does, so they won't respond well to aggressive calling tactics."

Deer calling pioneer Jerry Peterson, of Woods Wise Game Calls, agrees. He adds that rattling is often less effective because most bowhunters don't rattle at the right time. "You have to hit specific windows of time [7 to 10 days in the entire season] when the bucks are primed to breed, but there are few does available. Only then will bucks respond well to rattling," he says.

Rattling Doesn't Always Mean Big Bucks
Would you believe that most of the bucks I've rattled in have been on the small side? Four-pointers even! It's true. (I haven't hunted South Texas, though). And I've been told this isn't uncommon.

Peterson, a bowhunter who's rattled in dozens of bucks, is convinced the odds of getting a "book buck" are worse with aggressive calling than non-aggressive calling. "Whether or not a deer responds to rattling depends upon his `attitude,' and that has nothing to do with the size of his horns," he says.

Cook suggests that really spectacular deer are probably not all that big on fighting. He doesn't have scientific evidence to prove his theory, but still believes most trophy deer in most parts of the country avoid aggressive situations. "From a survival stand point," Cook says, "a deer is much more likely to live long enough to grow a big rack if he doesn't fight."

Rattling=Tough Set Up
Bucks often approach 40 to 100 yards down wind of rattling. They probably do this for two reasons: so they can smell and identify who's fighting before deciding whether to challenge the winner, or to see if they can locate the doe being fought over and take off with her while the two contestants are battling. A gun-hunter might get a shot before being winded when this happens, but a bowhunter probably won't.

Additionally, the movement required to stage a rattling sequence can quickly give you away to approaching bucks. When you call deer, you become the hunted. Deer are looking for movement in the direction from which the sound is coming. Waving around a pair of horns is "big time" movement.

Making it Work
Don't let the negatives of rattling prevent you from trying this type of calling. Being successful at rattling just takes a little forethought. Here are a few things to remember:

Don't waste your time by rattling before the onset of the rut, or after does are readily available for breeding. Time your rattling to when you see mature (not young) bucks chasing does and being refused by them. This is a signal that testosterone levels are close to peak and that bucks will be set off by a fight. Scrapes should also be red hot at this time. When scrapes go cold, the time for rattling has passed.

Setting up with a partner is a great way to rattle. Have your buddy stage the mock fight upwind of your position so you can cut off any buck that wants to approach from the downwind side. If you don't have a partner, pick a calling site where a buck might choose not to go downwind of you. A wide open area behind you will work, or the edge of a steep ridge.

Hide your movement as much as possible when you rattle. Will Primos, of Primos Game Calls, likes to do what he calls a "Quick Rattle," a very short and very loud rattling sequence. He feels he's less likely to be discovered this way, and that less aggressive bucks may also come to investigate a fight that's already over. This is not to say that long rattling sequences don't have a place too. Another friend of mine, Dan Huckabee, likes to hang his rattling horns from a string and dangle and clash them below his tree stand to minimize movement.

Add realism to your rattling sequence by throwing in aggressive grunts, sniffs, and wheezes. Bucks often makes these sounds before and during fights. (Samples of these sounds are available below.)

Hopefully this information will help make you a more successful rattler. But don't get too hooked on rattling. It's not the only type of deer calling you can do. Being able to adapt to various calling situations is the sign of a practical bowhunter.

Another expert writes, I too was very sceptical about antler rattling at first. But I am not going to give you some story about how I was sceptical but after being run over by deer I am now a believer. Because I have not been overrun by bucks coming to my horn rattling. This magic bullet isn't magic. BUT it can work. The key word being can.

Through this article hopefully I will be able to shed some light on the subject. I want to show you exactly what antler rattling can do and what it can't. What are rattlings advantages and its limitations. Hopefully after reading the following you will be able to see it for what it truely is and be able to use it as a tool, not a magic wand, to help you in the field.

Why It Will Work: Rattling in bucks works on the principal that apon hearing you rattling any buck hearing the fight will make the following assumption. Two bucks are fighting, possibly over a doe that is ready to breed. What buck wouldn't come running to that situation? So, if you can simulate realistically enough to fool a buck into believing what its ears are telling it then there is a good chance that it will come to investigate and offer a shot. Different bucks may come to rattling for different reasons, but antler rattling has something to offer deer of all ages. Mature bucks may come in with the mindset to whip the bucks that are in his territory trying to breed a doe that rightfully should be his. Or maybe an inmature buck will come to try to sneak away with the doe while the two fighting bucks are too distracted to notice. During the rut, as all seasoned hunters know, bucks loose a good bit of caution. They just seem to do stupid things that they might not normally do. Whatever the reason and there are more than a couple, there are good reasons to believe that rattling in a deer should be a good method to use to harvest your next buck. So rattling has something to offer all size(age) bucks and the rut is one of the urges that deer have a hard time controlling. These two factors are what make rattling so effective. Its why you see it on outdoor shows so often.

Why It Will Not Work: After what I have just written you might believe that I am rattling all year. Calling in bucks year round. I wish that where the case. But there is a flip side to antler rattling that you rarely hear more than a comment or two about on the outdoor shows. Just like there are reasons that it will work, there are numerous reasons as to why it will not work as well. In fact there are more reasons that it won't work. Here are a few.

First, the most obvious reason. It's not the rut. Rattling for deer should only be done during and around the rut. It will not be very productive to rattle if the bucks aren't interested in the does. So you need to pay attention in the field and learn when the rut usually occurs in your area. Because if its not the right time of year the deer will likely move away from the sound instead of towards it.

Secondly a buck that is already with a doe is not likely to leave her to come to you. In fact I don't know if whitetails would do this but elk certainly do. When a bull elk hears another bull elk bugle, he will often take his herd and move them in the other direction. I can imagine a whitetail buck wanting the doe he is with to move away from any rival bucks also.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you see those trophy bucks on television they are hunting on game ranches where the buck to doe ratio is much closer to 1:1 than on most land public or private. Also the age structure is much better than where you or I hunt. These factors make antler rattling on game ranches much more effective than on other lands. When the buck to doe ratio is near even this means that there are almost as many bucks as does. This has the effect of raising the competition for the does to a much higher level. Less does per buck means a lower chance that any particular buck will get to breed any particular doe. This will make the bucks desperate to find a doe to breed. Apon hearing a fight they will be many times more likely to come running than under conditions that most of us hunt under.

Yet another reason why a buck might not come in is he may already be educated. With everybody and his brother attempting this method there is a fair chance that some of the bucks will have been fooled once, yet escaped with the lives due to the hunter messing things up. I am of the conviction that most bucks that are rattled in by everyday folks like you and me live through the experience. I come to this conclusion due to the following facts. Most people I know have tried rattling at some time, yet few have ever had it work. Since I know that it works I believe that most of these hunters are not strong believers in rattling. This leads them to discontinue their hunt early with the result being a spooked buck that they never even knew was there. Remember bucks aren't likely to come straight to the sound of the rattling on a dead run. They will most likely sneak in. Often trying to circle down wind. So if they catch the hunters scent before the hunter sees the buck or if they see the hunter get up and leave then it is quite likely the next time that buck hears rattling he will be even more cautious than he was before.

Strange as it may sound, maybe the deer just didn't recognize the sound as deer sounds. I once had a buck come to the sound of my climbing stand. He misinterpetted what he heard. I have seen the likes of squirrels, armadillos, wind, and tree branches falling scare deer into full flight. They misinterpetted what they heard. This could be rare but it wouldn't suprise me if it was one of the most common reasons a deer refuses to respond positively to rattling.

Another reason that a buck might not come to your antler rattling is fear of getting whipped. Suppose a 6 point was trailing a hot doe. Then he runs across a similiar sized 8 point. A fight starts, with the 8 point whipping the 6 point. Now if the fight was not too lopsided it is likely that the 6 point is very very tired and is likely to also be bloodied up. Small cuts on the neck or a bloody mouth do occur quite often when two equally matched bucks go at it. So if soon after this butt whipping that same 6 point hears two bucks fighting he might not want to investigate. He might just turn tail and run in the other direction.

Have you heard the old adage that a deer might not believe his eyes, and he might not believe his ears but he will always believe his nose. This applies here as well. A deer relies on its nose more than we as humans with very poor smell could even imagine. since they rely on their nose so much they will often approach a fight from down wind to confirm with their nose what they hear with their ears. This often leads to the hunter looking into the wind (as he has been trained to do), while the deer approaches from downwind and leaves the area without ever being detected.


As promised, I will share with you the method I prefer for rattling in trophy whitetail bucks. Prior to sharing the formula if again I will say to you that my belief is that the hunting industry is so advanced, and so many whitetail deer hunters take a field each fall that I no longer attempt to rattle whitetail deer because my belief is that they have associated danger between deer hunters or human beings and this technique.

When I rattle for whitetail deer I use real whitetail deer antlers. I take a hacksaw and cut off the appointed tips of each tine. This prevents injury to the hunter that wishes to rattle whitetail deer.

I begin sequence, by lightly scraping that tips of the tines together for around 30 seconds. I will then smash the antlers together to mimic the sound of two bucks colliding head on as if they would during a normal engagement. It is then for a period of about 3 minutes I will grind the antlers against one another rather than simply clangs them recklessly into the silence of the timber. This mimics the sounds of two bucks pushing at one another trying to gain ground. I will then cease rattling for deer for a period of 2 minutes. I will begin again to rattle the antlers together as if they were sparring wildly. This is done by simply rapidly and loudly running the opposite antlers are crossed one another as if the two bucks were shaking their heads with antlers interlocked. I will then stop all rattling for bucks for another 2 minutes. This is step three of my rattling sequence for whitetail deer. Then once more I will repeat step three and stop rattling.

The whitetail deer hunter who rattles frequently throughout the hunt will not be successful. Whitetail deer live in the woods and know that buck fights do not occur every 30 minutes all day long and the same wood lot. Remember that in the woods you are the foreigner, and the deer are the native. Unnatural attempts and unnatural frequency of rattling in whitetail deer will result with a negative outcome.

During the times I have successfully rattled in whitetail bucks I have always used more than just antlers. When two bucks are fighting normally they fight a over a doe in heat, and a buck may perhaps come in to the fight which they believe they are hearing in a attempt to steal the doe in heat. Therefore if you really want to mimic the sounds of two bucks fighting far more is needed than a set of antlers. The wise whitetail deer hunter will implement calls and scents in an attempt to make the rattling of whitetail deer a more authentic and convincing scenario.

Therefore it is necessary to talk about what deer lures, deer calls, and other tools which are necessary to enhance your success with rattling whitetail deer if you insist upon attempting it. The reason I say “if you insist upon attempting it” is because I fully believe that rattling whitetail deer does more harm than good. My belief is that the trophy whitetail deer hunter that is silent, possesses patients, effectively scouts, hunts great land tracts, and employs more common sense strategies which may be seen as old school thinking will kill bigger whitetail deer.


As aforementioned prior to any rattling sequence I will use a grunt call in an aggressive tone to alert whitetail deer in my area that a fight is about to break out a over a doe in heat. A over the past two years I have watched hunter after hunter insist upon using a snort wheeze deer call simply because it may be the newest deer call created by the hunt industry. With 30 years of whitetail deer hunting under my belt, 14 pope and young bucks on my wall, 13 years as a whitetail deer outfitter in the Midwest, and a member of 34 hunt pro staffs I have never heard a buck snort wheeze in the wild. I am not saying that whitetail bucks do not do this, however the occurrence is few and far between. Because of this I stick to a simple grunt call and always carry a doe in heat can call.

Many grunt calls are available for sale in the hunting industry. There is only one grunt call that you will find in my hunting pack. I do not say this to promote any hunting sponsor or a hunting company but rather to tell the truth. The true talker grunt call from hunter specialties is by far superior to any other grunt call in the whitetail industry. Two of the 14 monster whitetail bucks in my trophy room hang on a nail as a direct result of this deadly whitetail grunt call. Let us take a look at the most effective grunt call in the hunting industry:

A revolution in deer calling technology, the patented True Talker® deer call produces all the sounds in the whitetail's vocabulary. This hardwood, balanced reed system allows the caller to not only vary pitch and tone, but alter the volume, rhythm and inflection when calling. The True Talker's four memory bands allow the caller to quickly find the desired tone. Includes lanyard and complete instructions. The True Talker is also available with an instructional DVD. Hunter’s Specialties® Scent-A-Way product line has been awarded the Bowhunting World Reader’s Choice Gold Award for the second year in a row.

The awards are based on a poll of a huge number of hard core hunters taken by Bowhunting World magazine covering a number of different hunting product categories.

“We’re elated that Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way products took Gold in the “Scent Eliminator” category”, said Field Services Coordinator Neal Denison. “Knowledgeable hunters have learned that scent elimination is critical to success. When you’re voted number one by a group as experienced as the Bowhunting World readership two years in a row, it really means something. We continually test and re-test our products to make sure they flat out work not only in the lab, but in the field where it really counts. There is a lot of competition in the scent elimination field and we are always looking at the latest cutting edge technology to try and keep our products the best available.”

Hunter’s Specialties was also awarded Silver in the “Game Call-Deer” category with the True Talker Grunt call, Silver in the “Game Call-Turkey” category with their line of H.S. Strut calls, and a Bronze medal in the “Scent” category.

The True Talker, a popular whitetail call from HUNTER'S SPECIALTIES, is one of the most versatile on the market. With it, you can produce virtually any grunt or bleat imaginable, simply by moving your finger along the tone chamber to change the length and vibration frequency of the reed.
By removing your finger from atop the chamber, you can make the deep tones of a mature buck; as you continually shorten the reed by moving your finger along the flexible chamber, the call's tone progresses from a young buck to a doe and finally, to a fawn. The bottom line is that with the True Talker, you don't have to carry more than one call to make every sound needed to attract bucks or does.

When grunting at a buck you have spotted, start out with a grunt of normal volume. If this does not draw action, you can nearly double the amount of air thrust into a grunt tube call until you get a buck's attention. Let a buck's actions dictate how you call from there, but don't be timid when you need to be aggressive with your calling.

Dominant buck calling is the rage, but don’t overlook the so-called“contact grunt,” that is made when bucks are seeking company. This is a common vocalization made by young bucks, especially in the pre-rut.During the rut these vocalizations are largely ignored by older, more dominant bucks, which usually are more responsive to the so-called “tending grunts”. These are the grunts made by an excited buck that's tending a near estrus doe. Tending grunts often draw investigation by big bucks hoping to drive off the tending buck so they can breed the doe.

Two secrets to grunt calling success are the degreeof enthusiasm put into you calling, and volume of your grunt calling efforts. It's amazing just how much difference attention to these two aspects of call can make. A few years ago while bow hunting at a ranch in southern Texas, I spotted a buck knifing it’s way through a tangle of mesquite away from my tripod stand. Hoping to change its direction,I pulled a grunt tube from my pocket and let out an excited, loudgrunt. The buck snapped to attention. Its head turned – eyes riveted onthe direction of the grunting sounds.

When it comes to grunting, don’t be afraid to experiment. Blow your calls out from your tree stand, not downward. The latter creates the illusion of a buckbeing right under your tree stand. When you have a buck's attention,bend the plastic tube so you send sounds to the side of or behind yourstand. Get in the habit of changing the direction of your grunt tube soyou can make it sound like a buck is on the move. Use a grunt call that can be adjusted to produce a variety of pitches. There are times whenone certain sound carries better than another.

Grunt calls will suffice 80 to 90 percent of your whitetail vocalization needs. Those old deep guttural grunts work year in and year out, but now and then grunting in a higher pitch will do the trick. The key is, be versatile, creative, bold and sometimes aggressive to improve your whitetail grunt call success.

In conclusion to using grunt calls when a whitetail hunter is attempting to rattle whitetail deer it is always wise to not only produce the sounds of antlers rattling, but also to authenticate the episode with some grunting. If I was forced to choose between taking a set of antlers or grunt call to a treestand for whitetail deer hunting, I would always takes the grunt call whitetail deer. I have found that carrying in a set of antlers can be a tedious chore therefore since I hardly ever rattle for whitetail deer, I lessen the chore by quipping myself with a rattle bag from hunter specialties.


In order for any whitetail deer hunter to enhance the mirage that two whitetail bucks are fighting over a doe in heat while rattling for whitetail deer it would only make sense to have knowledge of and know how to effectively use whitetail deer scents and lures. Further, it would also make sense that as whitetail deer hunters we need to understand what natural scents and glandular secretions that whitetail deer expel throughout the season.

Deer (esp. bucks) communicate by emitting olfactory cues via
glandular secretions:

There are five different glands in the whitetails body and each one does a different thing. By understanding these it will aide you in how they travel and communicate with each other.

1. Forehead Gland
This is located on the forehead just above the eyes. Some documentation has been written that this gland will secrete a oily substance that will darken the fur in this area, it is also said that the darken area is also caused by the type of trees that the bucks will rub. It is said that the secretion acts a indicator of what status that buck is at in the overall hierarchy of the local deer population. I personally believe that this is where the buck will leave is calling card so to speak, letting others know this is his territory.

2. Preorbital Gland
I have not found to much information on this gland other than the fact that it is another way of communicating with other deer as far as age, sex and maybe status. Some have said that it is used for visual communication mostly between doe’s and fawns.

3. Tarsal Gland
Now this is an important gland to pay attention to especially on big adult bucks. Located on the inside of the back legs half way down they will darken depending on how much the buck will urinate and rub them together as well as how old the buck is. Doe’s have been known to rub these glands together but generally it is the buck that does it. The tarsel gland will also send signals of dominance in the deer herd. These glands can also be purchased at sporting good stores to be used as scent drags to your stand. One thing I have done in the past is cut the gland from a adult buck and used that as a drag.

4. Metatarsal Gland
This is another gland that does not have much information about. It is located on the outside of the hind legs down near the hooves. Some researchers have said that it might be used to regulate their body heat and some have said that it leaves an alarm scent when the deer has been spooked. I think the debate can go on for awhile about this gland.

5. Interdigital Gland
This gland is located between the toes and is used for marking trails and locating other deer. It is said that because a fawn does not leave any scent the mother will keep tabs on the fawn by sniffing for this gland but, there is some debate about that. There is one thing that seems to be agreed upon and that is when a deer stomps the ground it is signaling to other deer that something is not right and at the same time it is leaving a scent that says danger to other deer.

During the 2010 whitetail deer season IMB Outfitters was afforded the luxury by hunter specialties to engage in a study using a variety of products in an attempt to determine their effectiveness with an emphasis on mock scrapes studies. During this time we used the following products:

Doe in Heat Urine: Our Premium Doe Estrus, collected during the 24-36 hour estrus cycle, is now spiked with the most potent sexual and territorial deer musk. This special blend stimulates and challenges a buck's natural hormonal urges during the rut. 2 oz. amber bottle and atomizer.

Dominate Buck Urine: Made from buck-in-rut urine, this scent will cause a buck's territorial urge to minimize his caution. Works dominant bucks into a frenzy. 2 oz. amber bottle and atomizer.

Lick in Stick: Glandular scent used for dominance and territorial. Especially effective when used with mock scrapes on licking branches and rubs. 1 oz. amber bottle and atomizer.

Scent Drippers: The Scent Dripper Combo includes the Scent Dripper and a 2 oz. bottle of Primetime® Premium Doe Estrus.

What was determined as a result of the studies was that the dominant buck urine actually and enticed trophy animals along with the lick in stick (Which is used to spray on overhead limbs above scrapes) more so than do in heat products. This is not to suggest that doe in heat products from hunter specialties are not effective. But rather, that trophy whitetail bucks are much more prone to be attracted and curious in regard to what foreign whitetail bucks may be closing in on their home territories.

On October 24, 2009 I sat high atop a white oak overlooking an active scrape line dressed up with many large whitetail deer rubs. I had sprayed lick and stick on the overhanging limbs above the active scrapes, and literally poured an entire bottle of dominant buck urine within bow range of my setup. Within 30 minutes I caught movement in the gully beneath me. Five whitetail bucks descended down the gullies I opposite side, a cross the ditch, and up the hilltop exposing themselves broadside at 10 yards. The biggest whitetail buck of the group was over 150 inchs with a kicker coming off his G2. He became so enraged by the dominant buck urine that he literally thrashed many mature cedar trees within bow range of my setup. It was so amazing to watch I did not release an arrow.

Thus when one is attempting to rattle in whitetail deer you might only imagine how much more effective your plan may unfold provided you implement deer scents, lures, and calls into the scenario.

In conclusion, it is always fun to try and rattle in trophy whitetail deer. I have elected after several years of hunting that rattling whitetail deer is more of an amusement to whitetail hunters, then an effective means of consistently harvesting record book whitetail deer. However I do realize rattling whitetail deer can be effective, can work, and has put many whitetail bucks in the truck beds of vehicles headed to the taxidermy shop. Therefore if you’re going to perfect the art of rattling whitetail deer make sure you are well equipped with the tools you need, the knowledge of whitetail deer behavior, and a pocket full of luck. One thing is certain….. A over calling with any deer call rattling device will quickly curtail your hunt in a negative manner.

Darrin Bradley

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