Deer Scents of the Season
This quick guide is an overview of what deer scents to use throughout the season. We’ll even mention a scenario or two where calls and decoys will help you as well. From opening day to the 11th hour, persistence, patience and playing the wind, the three P’s, are the keys to seeing big bucks. Add a little enticement to the equation and a few of those hard horns may come to rest over your fireplace.
Before we dive too deeply into tarsal glands and estrous, we’ll start by mentioning the importance of scent control. Often, you can fool a deer’s ears and even their eyes - if they hear a strange sound or think they see your silhouette, sitting stone still will often alleviate the situation. Their noses on the other hand are the one danger detector they always trust. Make sure you hunt according to the wind. Wear scent-control clothing that’s washed in the proper detergent and vary your entry and exit routes to the stand. Taking these measures will prolong the “freshness” of a favorite stand.
For many, opening day comes with high anticipation. Then there’s also heat and mosquitos that sometimes create a bit of ambivalence about sitting stand though we do it anyways. This is the time of year when bucks are switching from their summer patterns that are centered around food to the fall ranges where they’ll begin the search for does.
Urinating in a scrape is one of the top ways deer communicate with each other. And creating mock scrapes will help you gather intelligence about the deer moving through the area. Simply clear a two-foot area with a stick beneath a stout licking limb that’s about four feet off the ground. Deer are naturally attracted to the smell of fresh soil. Add a little buck or doe urine into the ground and you’ll expand the scent diameter to attract deer you may not otherwise see. Generally, both bucks and does are attracted to doe urine whereas only bucks are attracted to buck urine.
Keep tabs on several mock scrapes around your hunting property by hanging trail cameras in what you might deem focal points - funnels, oak-laden ridges, etc. Bucks will check a scrape to see what’s been there every time he’s in the area. If you get several photos over the course of multiple days, you can move in quickly and hang a stand.
It’s time for a buck to start establishing his dominance. As October gives way to November, testosterone and intolerance levels rise. What will begin as light sparring matches will give way to no-holds-barred violence. This is when it’s time to start upping your scent game with tarsal gland and applying a decoy. Take The Freshman, for example, which is an inferior-looking buck trying to posture. A dominant deer will look to quickly push him out of the area. Snap on a Teaser Tail and add a splash of the stinky-smelling tarsal gland. Try rattling as well, gently tapping the horns together and even adding a bit of grunting. Watch the downwind side of your setup for bucks coming to watch or join the fight.
It is on! Bucks have but one thing on their minds for the next several days or weeks. They are on the move looking for and chasing does, hoping to lock one down. This is where a buck-doe decoy combination with the right scents will increase your chances by a large margin. Dragging doe estrous and buck urine to your stand and setting up Dream Team in the lockdown position makes it appear as of a small buck is guarding a doe in estrous. This is a pose that deer see a lot during the rut though it’s rarely used in a decoy setup. Once a buck picks up the trail and follows it to the source, he’s most likely going to approach the buck decoy head on. Properly positioning Dream Team is paramount, as shown in the video below.
Continue to apply the drag technique. Even though the rut is winding down, there will be some bucks still cruising for one last doe to breed. As bucks are tiring from the chasing and fighting that is the rut, concentrate more on estrous scent, which signals the opportunity for love. Even the old brawlers have had about enough violence at this point. When you arrive at your stand, hang the wick in a tree about four to five feet off the ground. This will keep that sweet smell wafting in the wind.
Sometimes the stars align and the old Super Chief just ambles on out in front of you. But most often it takes real dedication to get a shot at a mature buck. Even though their guard is down a bit during the rut, you should still always take the appropriate measures for proper scent control.