Scientists tell us that white-tailed deer have one of the most incredible senses of smell in the animal kingdom. Just consider that humans have about 5 million olfactory receptors in their noses. In comparison, dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors. White-tailed deer, on the other hand, have a whopping 297 million olfactory receptors in their noses! Is it any wonder they smell hunters so easily out in the woods? Hunters can use that sense of smell to their advantage, since just as human odors scare deer away, other odors attract them. Hunting manufacturers have taken advantage of that fact by producing a multitude of scent products to attract deer. When shopping for deer attractant scents, consider these factors, products and uses that can help you score on a big buck this year.
Primos Wind Checker will let you know which way the wind is coming from, giving you the edge when hunting with attractant scents or without them. Walmart
Let’s get this out of the way right now. Wind direction might not sound like it belongs in a story about deer attractants, but it definitely does. That’s because the white-tailed deer’s sense of smell makes wind direction important all the time when hunting, not just when using scents. Regardless of what kind of scent you use, if you deploy it and it never reaches where you expect deer to come from, it won’t do you a bit of good. Probably more deer escape from hunters each year because of the wind carrying the hunter’s scent to them than are ever spooked away by noise or seeing danger. Always know what direction the wind is going to be coming from and set up accordingly. Then you can let the wind help you attract a buck to within bow or gun range.
Start Off Scent Free
Using Scent Killer spray on your clothing is part of a good scent-free regimen that should be used in conjunction with attractant scents for improved deer hunting success. Walmart
Before you can successfully use attractant scents to up your deer-hunting game, you first need to make sure that deer don’t smell you while in the woods or field. If they smell an attractant scent but human scent along with it, they’ll hightail it out of the county as fast as possible. Most really successful deer hunters have a scent-free regimen that they work hard at in order to not be detected by deer. Products from scent-limiting clothing, to laundry detergent, to body wash, to spray for your clothing and blind can all be used to help you conquer that outstanding sense of smell mentioned earlier. After doing some research, decide how much trouble you are willing to go to in order to remain scent free. Start every hunt with your scent-free regimen and your success will increase.
This Fresh Earth cover scent from Hunter Specialties comes in a solid wafer form so it won’t spill, freeze or wash away.
Before getting into attractant scents, a short discussion of cover scents is in order. In essence, cover scents mask your human odor so deer have a harder time smelling you. Cover scents combined with attractant scents create a strategy that many hunters use successfully every season. This is especially true for bowhunters, who need deer to be up close and personal before they can take a shot. Cover scents come in many different odors ranging from skunk scent (very strong) to acorn and earth scents (more subtle), and in forms including liquids, sprays, powders and solids. What they all have in common is they are normal odors that deer smell every day in the woods. Consequently, deer don’t spook when smelling them like they do when they smell human scent.
Liquid Doe Urine
This synthetic doe urine is effective at attracting deer and legal in states that have banned the use of real urine products. Walmart
Doe urine in the liquid form is probably the most common attractant scent used by deer hunters. It is good for calming deer’s nerves and piquing their curiosity, since it simulates a new deer in the area. Since it is a common smell in the woods, it very seldom scares deer—bucks or does. And it can be effective any time of the season, not just during the rut or pre-rut. Doe urine can be poured on the ground in an area you want a buck to check out or deployed using other methods to be discussed later. Note that some states—namely Oregon and South Carolina—have recently passed laws forbidding the use of real urine products in an effort to curb the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer. Fortunately, several companies make synthetic doe urine that is still legal in those states.
Scent wicks are absorbent and let you effectively deploy liquid deer urine without getting your hands messy. Walmart
While many hunters simply pour liquid urine attractants on the ground to get a buck’s attention, there are several other ways that work better. Some people pour a little liquid doe urine down the side of their tree so the wind can carry it to any deer that might be passing by downwind. Drag rags are used to pour scent on and then drag behind you on the way to your tree stand in hopes a deer will follow the scent trail to your location. Scent-drippers are made to drip a little bit at a time to make it smell like a doe is frequently the area. Other products, like scent wicks, are made for dipping in the urine and hanging on a nearby branch. They can easily be refreshed by dipping them into the urine again without getting any on your hands.
This Tink’s doe-in-heat mist is made to attract bucks during the pre-rut and rut. Walmart
Deer urine products also come in spray form—both mist and aerosol. The main advantage these types of products have is they disburse into the air better than liquid attractants, thereby giving off scent more quickly after use. When sprayed, they also attach to vegetation and travel through the air to attract deer from a greater distance than liquid doe urine. Compared to mists, aerosols tend to disperse more deer urine over a greater area, enticing more deer into your hunting area through stimulation of their scent receptors. It’s a good idea to be careful when using spray urines, especially in the dark. Make sure you know for sure which way you are aiming the product before dispensing or you could be stuck with extremely fragrant hunting clothes for the rest of your trip.
This doe urine fogger from Hunter Specialties is made to quickly distribute scent over a large area. Walmart
Foggers, like aerosols, are made to disperse urine products more quickly and over a wider area than liquids. Most can be dispersed in short bursts or locked down to fog out the entire contents—either in your stand area or as you walk to your tree stand. A popular kind made by Buck Bomb turns the scent into a gas cloud that can travel downwind more than a quarter-mile in a 3-mph breeze. A short burst when stalking or sitting in a stand can help diffuse a shifting wind that could give away your position to an approaching buck. Foggers are available in a variety of different deer urine types—buck, doe, estrous, etc.—and also in cover scents, and are made by a number of different companies.
This doe estrus urine by Code Blue is collected from a single doe in heat and is guaranteed 100 percent pure. Walmart
When the rut is nearing, estrus urine—also called doe-in-heat urine—is just the ticket to bring bucks your way. Estrus urines provide the scent a buck is looking for as he cruises his home area during the rut. A buck that encounters the scent of a hot doe is almost always going to follow the trail to investigate. Used by pouring on the ground near your tree stand or on a drag rag when walking to your area, estrus urine will definitely catch a buck’s attention. Some hunters have great success with a double drag, dragging one rag with estrus urine and another with buck urine to give the impression another buck is following the doe. Estrus urine can be purchased in many of the forms discussed above and also some others, including liquid, gel, spray, aerosol, fogger and even foam.
This Tink’s gel stream buck urine will shoot 10-foot streams to quickly disperse around your hunting area. Walmart
The variety of doe urine products aren’t the only urine used successfully by hunters. Buck urine also has a place in deer hunting and can be effective as both an attractant and a cover scent. As a cover scent, buck urine can mask your odor when you are hunting, filling a buck’s olfactory receptors with an odor other than human smell. Again, it can be placed around your stand or used as a drag. Additionally, a buck—especially a dominant buck—that smells strange buck urine in his area will sometimes look for the source of that odor to see if he is facing a serious challenge to his “ownership” of the neighborhood doe herd. That might bring him right to your stand. Like doe urine, buck urine products come in a wide variety of forms and deployment options.
This scrape combo pack from Tink’s allows you to keep a real or mock scrape fresh without repeatedly visiting the area. Walmart
Urine products are also used in mock scrapes. To understand mock scrapes, you must know why bucks make scrapes in the first place. Deer are social creatures, and communicating and learning about other deer and the status of those deer takes place at scrapes, which bucks build by scrapping away leaves, urinating in the scrape and licking an overhead branch. Bucks and does alike will visit scrapes throughout the season, making them vulnerable to hunters. Look for a round area where the leaves have been scraped away, the ground is somewhat churned up and there is a licking branch just above it. You’ve found a scrape that a buck is liable to come visit again in the future. Pour some of your favorite deer urine in the scrape to freshen it up, and hunt it hard. Good things might happen.
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