Deer hunting has long been a source of food and recreation for mankind. Many modern techniques have evolved to make the hunt easier. There are several different products on the market to make your deer hunt more successful. These include grunt calls, doe bleats, decoys, and possibly the most effective product – scents.
Deer are highly sensitive to scent. Without the ability to take their prospective mate out to a movie or nice restaurant they have to rely on three different kinds of signals to see if they are compatible with each other. Vocal calling to attract a mate to the area, leaving scent in a scrape to let them know they are there, and when necessary some out and out fighting to see who will win the does affections.
Each fall when the rut starts, bucks will find a tree and rub their antlers against it. This marks the tree as his territory. He then scrapes away any leaves or grass under the tree down to the dirt and leaves his scent in it. He will mark out several scrapes in his territory. Then if all goes well, a doe will come along and leave her scent in his scrape indicating that she is interested in making his acquaintance.
If there are any other bucks in the area, they too will leave their scent in the scrape as a sign of their presence. Often bucks will grunt to announce they are in the area, while the doe will respond with a bleat sound. Always ready for a challenge, this serenade will also attract any other young bucks in the neighborhood leading to a good ol’ fashioned show-down to see who gets the doe.
One of the best ways to get some action started is to find the scrapes when out scouting. It is imperative not to leave any human scent behind in the area you intend to hunt. A scent killer sprayed on your boots and washing your hunting clothes in a scent-free shampoo goes a long way to help controlling your scent. Avoid smoking and spitting in the area as well. Deer are skittish and easily spooked by things that are out of the ordinary for them.
Once you have found the scrape, depending on the exact time of the year, pour a little buck urine scent in the scrape or hang some doe estrus scent on a nearby branch. Many different kinds of felt tags are available to dip in the scent and hang from a tree branch near the scrape to ensure maximum scent dispersal. A scent drag consists of an absorbent tag on a string that can be dragged behind you while walking to your hunting site. This mimics a deer walking and is very effective in imitating a deer passing through the area. Once the bucks are in full rut, doe estrus scent is the most effective at getting their attention. At other times of the year, buck or doe urine scent is effective enough to get the bucks hanging around your area.
A word of warning…
Be very cautious about spilling scent on your clothes and gear, deer are attracted to the strongest source of the scent. If you are sitting in a deer blind and have the bottle of scent on you, or worse spilled on your clothes or in your blind, there is a strong likely hood the bucks and other deer in the area will mistake you for another deer. Given the aggressive nature of deer in rut this can be a very dangerous situation. In particular, if you are sitting there calling or grunting out the sounds of another deer ready to get it on.
Deer scents are available at most hunting stores by a variety of manufacturers. The scents are also available from natural and synthetic sources. Try different kinds to see which will be most effective for you and your hunt.
Copyright 2019 Mike Wilson