I hunt out of a top drive so I have the advantage of mobility and visibility. When the deer are coming to the horns, I generally rattle about 5-6 spots in the morning and a couple in the evening. The main thing to consider is being able to see the buck before he sees or smells you. There are a number of ways to get this advantage:
Always set up so you have a good view of anything coming in downwind.
It’s even better if you can see to the sides for 100 yards or more. What you are focusing on is rattling into the wind and trying to get those bucks circling around to the downwind side. I like to set up facing an opening with the wind in my face. I have rattled in countless bucks with this method utilizing Rattling Forks, which carry much further in the wind than any other product or natural horns. They emerge at the far brush line and generally stare your way for 15 minutes or so to determine if this is for real. Then they begin a circle, staying at the edge of the brush and work their way around until they are directly downwind.
If there is no cover, you can call them directly across a field. They generally pass about 80-100 yards to the side of the battle sound as they circle.
Bait and switch
If you are hunting from the ground or have a tripod setup, move upwind about 100 yards and rattle.
Give it a good go and then retreat to your stand location. This way you can get the drop on a buck that is focused on getting downwind of the original sound location. If you don’t get a response, go do it again. It’s a good tactic to leave scent along the route.
This is my favorite setup. Use a road, highway, high fence, large field, cliff, homestead, or other obstacle behind you to block the deer from circling downwind. This setup guarantees that the deer will never smell you and you control the odds.
Two to tango
If you have a rattling partner, this can offer a great opportunity to get the drop on a mature buck.
First of all, the person doing the rattling should hunker down in thick cover and plan on the bucks circling downwind. The shooter will set up downwind as well, maybe 150 yards behind the rattler. With good visibility, the shooter should be able to observe any buck trying to circle downwind of the rattler. Be careful and know where your rattler is stationed.