Horn rattling back in the 1960's was pretty much limited to the Texas brush country. In the 1970s hunters began to experiment with horn rattling throughout much of North America. Some had good luck, most did not.
Horn rattling is most effective immediately prior to and immediately after the prime rutting period. Even though I’ve rattled and several whoppers, it’s not my favorite method of calling. Horn rattling can be a little too aggressive for the more timid big buck.
Big bucks are increasingly wary in areas where a lot of hunters are pounding antlers together. However, in areas with little hunting pressure it is still one of the most effective ways to harvest a big buck. Just remember the buck always approaches from downwind in hopes of catching the scent of the bucks he believes are fighting. It’s important to have a good shooting lane downwind from your rattling position.
I begin by crashing the antlers together. Then I twist and work the antlers together in an effort to imitate the sounds of two bucks sparring. My entire rattling sequence only lasts about 15 seconds. I try not to rattle more than once every 10 to 15 minutes because the last thing I want is a buck to catch me rattling. It’s happened more than once and every time the results have been less than desirable.
Today, I rely more on bleat calls and grunt calls. I still carry rattling horns with me, but use them more as a last ditch effort.
Many times I’ll have a big buck approaching my stand and for no good reason at the last minute he’ll turn and walk out of range. As soon as he is out of sight, I’ll crash the antlers together for a few seconds. Often, if the buck is not on a hot doe’s trail, he’ll immediately return to investigate and I’ll be waiting.
This is a tactic I called “Crash and Return”.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,