Calling Deer: Is it Too Early to Rattle?

By Brodie SwisherOctober 18, 2018

The best days of the whitetail deer hunting season are upon us, making this a great time to kick off our deer calling blog series. This blog series will bring insight and experience from the field when it comes to calling deer. We’ll also share with you what we’re seeing – and hearing –  in the woods throughout the season.

To start things off, let’s talk about rattling deer. Is it too early to rattle? It’s mid-October and we’re smack in the middle of the October lull, right? A lot of hunters mistakenly think that deer don’t move during the month of October, much less respond to calling. But this is not the case. It’s all about location at this time of the year. You have to get in tighter to their bed if you want to see the activity you’re looking for. And the same goes for calling. The sound of your call obviously has to fall on the ears of a buck in order to incite a response. You have to call closer to the bedding area or wherever else bucks are spending their time.

hunter rattling

When do you begin your deer calling routine? Is mid-October too early?

Why It Works?

While some hunters would say mid-October is too early to call, I personally start employing my antler rattling tactics at this time. We often think of antler rattling strictly as a November rut hunting/calling tactic. And sadly, this mindset will result in missing a lot of the best days for rattling a buck in close. November will find bucks hanging tighter to receptive does and less likely to inspect a fight. Rattling in October draws bucks out of curiosity. Like us, they are ramping up for the rut and eager to check out the action as it unfolds. A light tickle of the tines can be just enough to draw a buck in close to your stand.

deer calling - rattling-horns

Real bone still sounds as good as anything for rattling up a buck.

It’s Not Too Early

On my last two afternoon sits, October 13th and 15th, I encountered bucks fighting. I heard the first fight before I saw it. It was nothing more than a distant crack of antler tines, but it was enough to catch my attention. I quickly rubbernecked from my treestand and saw two bucks across the field pushing and shoving. It was a fairly aggressive fight that lasted nearly a minute. The bucks grunted, clashed horns and sent mud and corn stubble flying. It was a pretty cool show. A  similar experience came a few nights later when I watched another pair of bucks square off. Again, it was more than just a friendly shoving match between these two. They were obviously determined to establish who the boss truly was.

In both situations, other deer responded to the sounds of these fights. Both bucks and does came to check things out. In both fights, multiple bucks responded to the fighting sounds, including a shooter 8-pointer that popped out and kept an eye on what was going on.

We all love a good fight. Deer are no different. Now is the time to start making a little noise in the deer woods. If you’re in the right spot and the wind is in your favor, tickle the tines and see if you can push a curious buck to make a move toward your stand. The beauty of calling deer is that it allows you the chance to make something happen rather than simply hoping and praying for the action to unfold. Make it happen with calling deer this season. It’s not too early to rattle!



Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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