Two notable hunting writers have covered rattling in recent issues of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s member magazine, “Bugle.” Both found success using slightly different methods and gear. Here’s a rundown:
1. Antler Preference – Ramos uses one large, 320-class, 6×6 shed as a base antler. During the rattling sequence, this antler mostly lays on the ground while the hunter swings a second antler, usually a broken end with at least three points.
2. Rattling Sequence – Bang the antlers abruptly and aggressively 6-7 times to create the thundering sound of two bulls squaring off. Ramos says real bulls often begin a fight with big theatrics that devolve into a pushing match. So after your initial start, continue by rubbing antlers together, clashing points, raking trees and brush and pounding the ground for at least 10-15 minutes. Lots of noise is realistic. During this sequence, bang the antlers together very forcefully a couple times every 2-3 minutes. Then, after a few minutes of silence, start all over again with round two, and then round three.
3. Calling – Ramos blends a variety of elk calls into the rattling session. Bugles, moans, groans and excited cow calls add realism to the sounds of a fight. If possible, let a second hunter focus on the calling while the first hunter focuses on the rattling.
4. Be Sure to Try – Switching off. Ramos says this hunting method takes a physical toll on a hunter’s upper body so it’s good to let two hunters split the rattling and calling duties.
5. Notes – Bulls generally bugle as they approach, but not always. Sometimes they slip in silently, as if trying to steal a hot cow away from the battling bulls. Stay alert! Watch a video of Ramos’ rattling technique.
1. Antler Preference – Kayser prefers a set of raghorn sheds, to save weight. A hunter can lighten his load even more by not using antlers at all. Consider commercial products that mimic rattling sounds, like the Rattlecage (http://rattlecage.com).
2. Rattling Sequence – See No. 2 above.
3. Calling – Use a series of high-intensity bugles with two different tones to imitate two different bulls. For example, make one a growler and the other a chuckler. Be creative in your own style.
4. Be Sure to Try – If you don’t carry actual antlers, you can use a large stick to scrape trees and ground, adding even more realism to the rattling sounds.
5. Notes – Kayser used rattling to draw a bull from a neighboring property. It took only a few minutes for an elk to respond to the sounds, cross a fence and walk within bow range.
“Bugle” magazine is a bi-monthly publication that covers hunting, conservation, elk ecology, predator issues, RMEF membership news and much more, plus memorable hunting stories and outstanding photography. Visit www.rmef.org for details.