John's Journal... Entry 125, Day 1
THE KING OF RATTLING
THE GHOST BUCK
EDITOR'S NOTE: You can use the rattling tactic to draw big bucks out of thick cover anywhere in the nation. But just like any other deer-hunting tactic, rattling won't always make a monster buck appear. Although many hunters believe rattling works only on Texas ranches with their 1:1 buck/doe ratio, you won't find this assumption true. But rattling appears to pay more buck dividends in Texas and in other western states than it does in the East. Generally you can see bucks coming to antlers from a greater distance in the wide-open spaces of Texas than you can in the thick-cover areas where most Easterners hunt. But I know you can bring bucks in to horns anytime, anywhere you locate deer, whether early season, during the rut or after the rut.
While sitting on the stand before the season, Morvan uses his binoculars to spot bucks and a camera to attempt to photograph the big bucks that come to each of the stand sites. "Just before hunting season one year, I'd spotted a nice-sized buck that was coming in close to one of my stands," Morvan remembers. "I took his picture. After I saw the photo, I knew he would score better than 135 points on the B & C scale." When the season came in, Morvan took his first hunter to the stand where he'd seen the big buck. But the deer never showed up. A week later, Morvan went with a second hunter to the stand. However, once again, the buck eluded them. "I couldn't believe that I couldn't locate this buck when I was with a hunter," Morvan explains. "I knew the deer was in the area and that no one had taken him. But he seemed to vanish like a ghost every time I went to my stand with a hunter and a gun."
The third week of hunting season, Terry Rohm of Wellington Outdoors in Madison, Georgia, and Dave Butts, a former professional football player, went to the Ford Ranch to try to video the bagging of a monster-sized buck. Morvan acted as their guide, and a cameraman filmed the hunt. At first light, Morvan began to rattle in the region of the Ghost Buck. "I started rattling near the stand where I'd seen the big buck," Morvan recalls. "But the big deer never appeared. We moved about 400 yards from my stand near some thick oak brush, and I set up and started rattling again. I saw the Ghost Buck come out of the oaks about 200 yards upwind of us before turning and heading back into the cover. I told the cameraman the deer was off to our left and moving through the brush. I explained that the next time I hit the horns to rattle, more than likely the buck would be right in front of us."
Once Morvan had Butts in position to take the shot, he had the cameraman sit behind Butts. Then the cameraman could watch Butts and probably see the buck if the buck came out where Morvan thought the buck should. According to Morvan, "When everyone was set up, I started rattling again lightly. Only three heartbeats after I had tickled the antlers, the deer came out less than 15 yards from me. The cameraman didn't see the deer because he was looking through the camera at the spot where the deer had appeared the first time. I looked at the cameraman and saw he wasn't seeing the deer or Dave. Although Butts wanted to shoot, I asked him not to shoot until the cameraman could see him and the deer." Morvan whispered to the cameraman to make sure he could see the deer. Morvan suggested he focus the camera over Dave's shoulder. As the cameraman moved the camera ever so slightly, Morvan heard him whisper, "I've got the deer and Dave in the camera." Finally, Butts squeezed the trigger, and the Ghost Buck went down. The buck scored 153 points on the B & C scale -- a very nice trophy.
TOMORROW: WHY RATTLE