Behavioral Responses of Male White-tailed Deer to Antler Rattling

We observed 111 male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) responses to four antler rattling sequences performed 171 times during 1992-1995. Thirty-three additional sessions were performed within 200 m of 18 radio-transmittered males during 1994-96. The four sequences, short and quiet (n = 43), short and loud (n = 45), long and quiet (n = 43), and long and loud (n = 40), varied by rattling duration and volume. Sequences were randomly chosen and performed near 17 observation towers to test which attracted the greatest number of males. Loud rattling attracted nearly three times as many males as quiet rattling, but duration of rattling did not differ. Greatest response rate was during rut and lowest during prerut. Most responses occurred during the first 10-min rattling segment. Males estimated to be young (1.5 to 2.5 years old) responded more frequently during prerut, middle-aged males (3.5-4.5) during rut, and mature males (5.5 +) responded at the greatest rates during postrut. Lower response rates of mature males during rut were likely because they were engaged in courtship of females. Males apparently did not learn to avoid rattling.

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