How to Rattle Up Whitetails – Tips with Ron Spomer ~ VIDEO

By Ron Spomer
For us, whitetail hunters summer dreaming usually revolves around the upcoming season. But we should do more than dream. We should prepare.

USA – -( Most us us know we should stay out of a buck’s core area. Leave him alone and let him feel secure. But we also know we should get stands hung early enough to let them blend into the environment. And many of us want to operate trail cams, maybe manage food plots. What else can we do to prepare for the soon-to-be-here season?

How about learning to rattle?

Rattling up whitetails has been around since at least the 1960s. Savvy Native American hunters were known to use the tactic, but it took modern hunters considerable time to try it, and then most gave up because it didn’t work. But others had fantastic success with it. So what’s the secret?

Timing and a balanced buck-doe ratio. The reason many of us early adopters failed at rattling (outside of Texas) in the last third of the 20th century was that whitetail populations were heavily skewed to a low buck-to-doe ratio. When you’re the male with an average of six or ten females all demanding your attention during a two-week rut period, you’re too busy to attend any fights!

These days most state Fish & Game agencies have balanced their state’s herds nicely. Most of us now hunt where there might be only 2 or 3 does for every buck. In select areas, there’s closer to a 1:1 ratio! That makes for extreme competition and a lot of buck-to-buck interaction. When the fall tussles begin, there are plenty of boys eager to join in.

With sex ratios this good, your only remaining challenges are timing and technique. This video covers the technique pretty well, but let’s investigate the timing. When is the proper time to rattle and when is the best time?

Over the decades I’ve discovered that my best luck comes about a week before the first doe comes into estrus. Across most of North America, that’s the first week in November. This bleeds over into the first day or two of the chase period simply because so many deer are moving and so many bucks chasing. Anyone left behind is fired up and likely to respond to any indication of another doe in the vicinity, and the sounds of two bucks fighting suggest just that.

Once breeding begins, most bucks are too busy to attend any fights. But this doesn’t mean you should forget rattling. Smaller bucks who can’t collect and hold a doe of their own still wander and respond to rattling, so if you’re just looking for venison, rattle away. Heck, you might even pick up a bruiser just off one conquest and shopping for his next. As noted in the video, I haven’t noticed that rattling ever spooks deer, so why not try it?

How to Rattle Up Whitetail Bucks with Ron Spomer
How to Rattle Up Whitetail Bucks with Ron Spomer

I’ve read that post rut rattling is not only good but often deadlier than pre-rut rattling. This hasn’t been my experience, but again, if you’re still out there, why not give it a try? The idea is that bucks are still full of testosterone and — with eligible does in shorter supply — more eager to find one. On the flip side, I’ve noticed that hard-charging, hard-breeding older bucks are worn down and often too tired to continue breeding.

Regardless, rattling never hurts, so why not give it a try? Heck, you can even try rattling in the early season as soon as antlers have hardened. Bucks are then sparring, testing out the new armament. I wouldn’t hit it hard then, but lighter rattling can sure work.

If stand hunting is getting boring, hit the ground and rattle up some company.

Ron Spomer OutdoorsAbout Ron Spomer Outdoors

Ron Spomer has been hunting for 50 years and writing about it for 40. While gathering data for thousands of articles published in more than a hundred magazine titles and several books, this former Dakota farm boy has pursued game on six continents. Spomer is a recognized authority on optics, firearms, ballistics, outdoor photography, conservation and hunting for everything from quail to brown bears. To learn more, visit Follow him on Youtube .

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Old Forester

One time I tried rattling up a whitetail. All I had was a large pair of mule deer sheds and when I saw a wt buck on a hillside, I went at it. The buck took off like I’d shot at him. I went over to look where he’d been standing, and his tracks in the snow showed some blood. I figured he must have just been in a fight and when he heard those big racks he decided he didn’t want any part of it…

Wild Bill

A few short years ago, several gun writers were exposed as being gun control advocates. I can not remember which ones that they were. I remember that I was very surprised that any outdoor sports writers were for more gun control.

Ansel Hazen

And should I be reading between the lines in your comment?

Wild Bill

@Ansel H, No.

Dave in Fairfax

WB, HuffPo published their letter. Here are the signatures from the bottom: Daniel M. Ashe, former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Ted Williams, environmental journalist* Paula Del Giudice, outdoor writer and hunter* Mike Furtman, outdoor writer and photographer, hunter and former gun dealer* Jim Low, former president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and 13-time recipient of the Izaak Walton League’s Outdoor Ethics Communication Award* Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III, wildlife photographer* Brian Rutledge, conservation leader and naturalist Scott Stouder, outdoor writer, conservationist and lifelong hunter* Dr. Kris Thoemke, outdoor writer, conservationist and hunter* Joel Vance, current member… Read more »

Wild Bill

in fairfax, Thank you. I’ll try to keep track of this better, this time.

Ansel Hazen

Thank you dave, glad the writer if this piece isn’t on the list.


One thing might be added for the benefit of any newbies. Don’t forget to beat the ground as well as rattle the horns together. Fighting bucks paw the ground hard. Make some thudding sounds into the ground as well. One can do this with the horns, feet, a big stick, whatever is handy to beat the ground with. And old antlers or sheds work just as well as the plastic store-bought horns, and maybe even better.

Wild Bill

, Thank you sir.