Through my years of hunting deer I have found that rattling for whitetails can be very effective. Below are a few things I've learned along the way.
1. Rattling options
Some people like the convenience of a rattle bag or may even use synthetic horns. I prefer real horns for the authentic sound. Stay away from old, discharged up and weathered horns as they tend to make a bridle dead sound that likely will not bring in the big boys. It is helpful to cut off any brow tines including the tips of all the horns as a preventative measure to avoid bloody knuckles when using real horns. Steer clear of large rattle horns as they may scare off bucks sensing the possibility of a dominate buck in the area. I like to use medium size horns to entice bucks to enter a fight they believe they could win.
Carrying a pair of horns to a treestand or hunting location is simple. I like to tightly strap the horns to my back pack. This way they do not move around and make noise while I'm trying to get to my stand. Then, once I've reached my hunting spot I make sure to have a convenient and safe place to hang the horns for easy access.
3. Rattling 101
When I was learning how to rattle my mentors taught me to imagine two deer fighting. I still use that technique to this day. I first go through an entire battle in my mind and then attempt to replicate the imagined battle when rattling the horns. I will sometimes wrestle the horns through the brush and thump them on the ground (if in a position to do so). All are natural sounds of bucks fighting. Rattling can last anywhere between 30-40 seconds. Then repeat every 30 to 40 minutes as needed.
Many new or inexperienced deer hunters have the idea in their head that they will rattle once or twice and then all of a sudden a monster buck will come stomping in looking for a fight. How wonderful! However, it likely will not go down like that. Monster bucks did not get to be monsters because they are jumping into every possible chance of a fight. They are more selective. Their keen insights and sharpened intuition have served them well. Big bucks have a tendency to keep their distance and work their way towards you cautiously.
All deer within earshot will have pinpointed where the sound is coming from after rattling. This is the best time of the hunt in my opinion. All senses are on high alert as I sit and wait. Colors seem more vibrant. I could hear a pin drop. I am locked on to all movement. My heart is racing and my breathing has picked up. I feel so alive. There is nothing else like being in the hunt.