by Eric Hall
I picked up my Black Rack rattling system in 2014 on a whim. To be honest, I didn’t have much faith that this system was anything more than a fad, a here today, gone tomorrow type of product. I had watched the Deer Society videos on TV and on the internet featuring bucks responding to the Black Rack but my skepticism was still high. My thought process was to give it a try and, if it doesn’t work, go back to the shed antlers.
November 4th, 2014 was a particularly nasty morning in North East Ohio. I was in my stand prior to daylight with temperatures in the lower 30’s and freezing rain in the forecast. I rattled at first light with nothing coming to the call. I chose to sit quietly to let the deer movement happen naturally, hoping the whitetails would be moving ahead of the front. At 9:30 AM, I rattled again and had just put the Black Rack down when the sky opened up with freezing rain and sleet. The precipitation was so heavy that I buried myself inside my jacket hood, leaning forward to keep the stinging sleet from hitting my face. For the next 30 minutes, I sat in the stand, not really hunting, merely withstanding the barrage of ice as the front moved through. To say that I was miserable is an understatement.
At 10 AM, the sleet stopped and I immediately tickled the tines of my Black Rack. Setting the rattling horns on the limb behind me, I turned and a buck had emerged directly in front of my stand quartering away from right to left. I looked at the animal and my first instinct was to pass. The buck moved off and I got a good look at his body and antlers. I realized it was a whitetail buck that I wanted to kill. He wasn’t a giant, probably a 140 inch 10 point, but a good deer that I had just let walk through two open shooting lanes at 25 yards. I watched the buck move down the ridge and drop into the bottom. When he got about 80 yards away, I made the decision to try the Black Rack again.
Picking up the horns I again tickled them together for two or three seconds and he immediately turned. I quickly set the horns on my stand seat and looked up. The buck had closed the distance to 18 yards and was moving up the hill directly at me. I was frozen in the stand when he stopped head on at eight yards and stared in my direction. I had my crossbow in hand, but the deer was facing me head on with no shot opportunity. He stood there for several minutes, steam pluming from his nostrils, ears pinned back. Suddenly the demeanor of the buck changed and he whirled and bolted down over the hill with his tail tucked between his legs. Figuring that he caught my wind, I watched as this shooter disappeared into the thick underbrush.
Shaking my head, I turned to sit down and caught movement to my right on the utility easement. There stood another buck, larger than the first one. When I turned, he caught my movement and bounded away, another 10 point with a much larger body. The first deer hadn’t smelled me but reacted to the presence of the bigger deer who had slipped in while my attention was focused on the first buck. Both deer had responded to the Black Rack and both deer were within 20 yards of my stand. I was sold on the Black Rack!
Since that day, I have rattled in many deer using the Illusion Hunting System Black Rack. Every single season, a buck has responded favorably to the sound of two full racks making contact. The sounds are realistic, easy to replicate and the system simply works. More than once, the same deer has responded to consecutive rattling sequences. They come in, move off and then come right back. This is a testament to the realism of the Black Rack.
Black Rack features their exclusive Bone-Core technology which allows the rattling system to maintain a true tone year after year. The sound of shed antlers changes over time as they dry out giving them a hollow sound. I have personally rattled in more deer in the past 3 years of using the Black Rack than in 20 previous years using shed antlers.
I like the fact that the Black Rack stacks for easy packing in and out and the dark color makes movement in the tree less conspicuous. No more glare from white antlers in the early morning sun. I had often wondered if deer could see me working the horns in the tree because of their white color. The Black Rack helps reduce that chance.
My only issue with the black rack is tying the antlers together. I like to have my antlers tied together to limit the possibility of dropping one or both to the ground. It also helps with hanging them when not in use. I have found that the rope gets in the way when using these antlers in my current configuration. I am confident that I just need to experiment more with different lengths of rope until I find the sweet spot. On hard horn antlers I would simply drill a hole and thread the rope through the hole just above the burr. On the Black Rack, I find myself tying the cord to the antlers. While this works, I again need to experiment more to find the best way to accomplish this.
Every year, several products hit the market with a lot of hype. Many end up being just that: hype. Illusion Hunting Systems Black Rack backs the hype with performance and features valuable to whitetail deer hunters. It is a great tool for the pre-rut and rut phase and I can 100 percent recommend it for your arsenal.