When to Rattle and Grunt for Deer


When using calls there are 2 different times in the season you need to recognize, Once the antlers have hardened right after the velvet has come off and the Pre-Rut. Once the Rut is on it’s very difficult to call a buck off a Doe, but since there is nothing to loose keep trying.

When To Start Rattling

Once the buck’s velvet is gone, his testosterone levels are up, and the antlers are hard you can start to rattle. However, you want to use the rattles lightly as two bucks sparing, this is typically from the first of October to the third week of October. You can also add a fawn and doe bleat in the early October season. The third week of October you want to start using a more aggressive rattle as bucks have been fighting for some time and are establishing their territories. You can rattle right up to the Pre-Rut, but then I like to set these down and begin my Grunt calling. The Pre-Rut season can range a week or two each year depending on the weather and how fast it gets cold. This year (2015) The pre-rut started around October 25th in upper Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and started October 31 for the Southern part of these States.

Once you have hit the rattle and put them down be ready to shoot as some bucks will come in quickly, others will circle and try to get downwind to see if they can determine how big these bucks are. I have had bucks circle and take up to an hour before coming in. This buck here took about 40 minutes to come in and I was able to rattle him in 3 times after leaving. However, the third time he caught me off guard, cycling from behind (downwind) and coming up under my stand before I even knew he was there. Once he searched the entire area and could not find the other bucks he left and I could not rattle him back.

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Don’t get frustrated when rattling and you only see small bucks. I have found over the years that 9 out of 10 times the bucks you rattle in our spikes, forks, and small 6 pointers. But, that 1 time out of 10 I do get a nice buck to come in, typically a 140 class or bigger.

When To Start Grunting

The best time I have found to start using the Grunt is during the Pre-Rut. The Pre-Rut can last for two or three weeks, but once the Rut is on it’s almost impossible to call buck’s off the Doe(s). Your best bet here is to have Doe scent and hope the doe being chased is not ready for breeding. Then you have a chance of bringing him in.

Like with rattling, grunting will bring in small bucks 9 times out of 10. Again, be ready as soon as you put down the grunt as some bucks will come in quickly, aggressively, and alert. In many cases your grunt calling will get the bucks grunting as they come in, so you may get some warning.

When Rattling And Grunting Do Not Work

Once the Doe(s) are in their cycle and ready for breeding you will not be able to rattle or grunt these bucks in. I have seen over and over dominate bucks on Doe(s) and I could not call them in. You just need to be patient and wait for that buck to chase the doe by you. Now I have tried this and even at 20 yards you need to lead the buck a lot. Two years ago I had a nice buck chase a doe by and I aimed in front of his nose and shot a foot behind him. The best tactic here is to have doe scent on the ground in hopes to slow him down a little for a good shot.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>