In 1979 I rattled in my first Columbia black-tailed deer, and have been hooked ever since. As with calling all big game, there is never a guarantee a blacktail deer will come to the calls or rattles. My success has come down to persistence and timing; being in the right place at the right time. Due to constantly changing hormone levels in blacktails in October and November, catching a buck in the right mood to want to respond to your calls, is as important as the calling, itself.
From mid-October until about the 22nd or so, I like using a subtle rattling sequence, with very little or no grunting. This is because most bucks are in pre-rut mode at this time, meaning they are traveling, checking out does and sizing-up bucks the’ll soon be fighting for breeding rights. Starting around May 22, I like getting more aggressive with the rattling sequences. By October 31, I’m getting very aggressive, as I feel this is the best time to bring in a mature blacktail buck. I’ll use this aggressive approach until about Nov. 20. After that, I go back to less aggressive rattling, but include more grunts and doe bleats, since this is a time when insubordinate bucks are still active. At this time I believe most of the biggest bucks have often gone back into their small, core area, licking their wounds from the rut and not wanting to risk injury or death for a slim chance to breed with a doe during the 2nd rut.
Most of the blacktail bucks I’ve rattled in over the years have come around Thanksgiving until December 2nd. These weren’t the biggest bucks in the area, but they were big enough, and lots of fun.
Combining rattling with the use of deer urine, can make a big difference in getting wily bucks to commit. Fool a blacktail buck’s ears and nose, and your chance of filling a tag greatly increases.
Here’s a video demonstration on my early and late season rattling sequence, where I’m not looking to call in the most dominant blacktail buck, just any legal buck.
The video below shows how I like rattling when targeting big, mature blacktail bucks. This is more of a dominant, intimidating sequence, that simulates two big bucks fighting during the peak of the rut. I’ve not had many small bucks commit to this sequence, which is why I don’t use it very often in the pre-rut or post-rut timeframes. Mixing in a few buck grunts and doe bleats with this aggressive rattling can help in attracting big blacktail bucks.