“Buck on the right, circling to get down wind! Nine point, four years old…” whispered Johnnie Hudman. “Not a shooter!”
I nodded as I tracked the Clear Fork Ranch buck through my Trijicon scope. Then, I looked left. “Got another on the left, a little six point.” I countered.
The older buck, ran behind us, where he stopped and caught our scent. Immediately he whirled and ran, disappearing behind a wall of mesquite.
The young 6-point came closer and closer, stopping at ten yards. Unbelieving he stared at Johnnie, Dustin and Cody (my cameramen for my DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon, TV show) and me.
I let the younger buck walk away before grunting to him, using my natural voice. Immediately he turned to face us and come back.
Johnnie quit rattling my Rattling Forks and watched the young buck. He leaned forward and whispered, “Snort-wheeze! Then I’ll start rattling again.”
“Fit, fit, fit, ffffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” just like I had heard a buck make back in 1969, when as a Texas A&M University student working with the Wildlife Disease Project, right before a truly serious fight! And then made again as the winner of that fight chased the away the loser. A couple of weeks later while hunting I called in a buck, imitating the grunting calls and snort-wheeze I had heard our bucks make while listening and learning from the deer we had in our research facility. Looking back, I wish I had back then had the forethought to develop a commercial grunt and snort-wheeze call.
No sooner had I done my natural voice snort-wheeze than a doe came running toward us. “Get ready, she’ll either be followed by a really old buck or a young buck. She’s wanting to check out the bucks fighting, and hopefully lose the buck following her, getting him involved in the fight!” She was followed by another young 6-point. She led him directly to the other six point. The two squared off, threatened each other. The doe took off and left both there.
Moments later another buck made an appearance, then ran back into the brush and circled us until he got out scent then departed.
After Johnnie stopped rattling with my Rattling Forks, we waited about 20 minutes before leaving, knowing often older, wiser, big-antlered mature bucks are s-l-o-w to respond. When nothing else showed we moved on.
Our next rattling sequence about a half mile away started off slow. We stood up to leave, walked about twenty feet, then saw a buck heading our way, a buck Johnnie had trail camera photos of, and was on the “hit list”.
Immediately we sat down and again started rattling. He ran in as if on a string, then circled to get down wind. I shot the eight-year old 8-point with my .300 Win Mag Ruger FTW Hunter, shooting Hornady’s 200-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter ammo when he stopped to look our direction!
Rattling can be extremely exciting and highly productive, and there’s no better time to rattle than right now! Throughout much of North America the whitetail rut is in full swing.