The best time of the season to rattle is just prior to the rut or during the rut. You don't want to rattle until there is enough light to make a shot because if they are close and commit to the rattling they will be there quick. During this period I rattle with either large heavy antlers or a rattle bag that produces big buck tones. I believe the size of antlers will determine the size of buck that will commit. Light rattling works well in the early season also, but usually peaks the interest of smaller bucks just being curious. At this point rattle softer, more like a sparring match. One thing you want to watch for and plan for will be when the big boys commit they will circle you and get down wind. Sometimes a decoy helps bring them in a little closer ( of course for rifle season you should be okay if the rut lands during the season). Be ready they can show up from anywhere! The best time of the day is early morning, just after first light, but I have had great success toward evening also. Nice cool and calm days work best because the sound will resonate much further.
If you do use a decoy remember to set it up using the wind correctly. If you use a doe decoy place it upwind and facing away from you. Buck will come from downwind and to the rear of the doe. If using the buck decoy place it upwind also but have it facing you. Buck will come in to decoy head on looking to intimidate.
As far as the doe call I would use it during the rut and also post rut when the secondary rut may happen. I usually use "the can" with one hand while producing buck clicks and soft grunts with a mouth call. I've had many bucks respond to this.
Good Luck and make sure to let us know how it works Thumbs up
Out here in Colorado, and in the units that I haunt, it is a tricky game to figure out how far to pack in on a rifle hunt. You want to get away from the masses that have moved game away from the roads but might want to stay close enough that you are taking advantage of the animals forced movements. There is no universal distance but I like the 1.5 to 4 mile range for day hunts where I am not planning on bivying out. This keeps you in that productive buffer zone where the animals are really...