Great Outdoors: Prime Time Whitetail

Special to the Parade

Great Outdoors (Whitetail Deer) pic-11-17-11It was full light as the two hunters eased into the small clearing. Before the morning was over, one of these hunters would either be convinced the other was completely off his rocker or have a trophy whitetail buck.

The tripod stand was set up quickly and the fully camouflaged hunter was up and settled quietly. The hunter remaining on the ground also wore camouflage. He made his way into a small patch of low brush near a pile of dead branches and waited.

It was then the madness started. The hunter on the ground jumped into the dead branches with both feet while at the same time swinging a dead branch into the brush around him, he stomped and shuffled his feet. Then, as the branches broke, he clashed a set of deer antlers together scrapping and banging them together. A tense grunt came from a mouth call and then the antler clashes continued, pausing only for short periods of limb-shaking and pounding the ground.

A full minute passed, then another. The hunter in the tripod stand turned slowly straining his eyes as he covered the brush from 12 feet above the ground. It was still as he slowly turned… then there it was. Something moved several hundred yards away.

There was another grunt and more tickling of the antler tips. Just as the hunter on the ground finished, a small eight point buck circled the tripod not more than 25 yards from the hunters. Behind him two smaller bucks, one a small spike, followed the eight-point into a small clearing.

There was movement – the hunter on the ground dropped to one knee and froze. It was then on the other side of the brush and 30 yards away that the big 12-point buck stopped to once again test the wind. A second later, the quiet was shattered by the shot. Then all was still.

The art of “rattling up a buck” is not difficult to learn. Actually it’s quite simple. The older and mature bucks are rarely the first ones to answer the call. At times they will circle an area where smaller bucks have come in but stay well away from the other deer.

Your rattling equipment will be simple; a set of horns, a grunt call, at least a camouflage shirt, face net and gloves, and an area where you know there are bucks.

Rattling is basically trying to come as close as you can to duplicating the sounds two bucks fighting. In addition to the sounds of clashing horns, there should be the sound of hoofs stamping the ground and brush snapping and breaking. Then, after the initial fight, the sound of a buck hooking and fighting a tree limb or brush.

Team rattling, as described earlier, is a good way to cover all the bases and be able to see most of what your rattling efforts produce. The Johnny Stewart Company (now a part of Hunter Specialties) has a video available to teach you how to rattle. The tape is filled with action sequences of Bob rattling in bucks for the camera.

Opening day is a good time to start – give it a try.

Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography, visit If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at

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