By Mark Nazzal
So, how do you lure that big buck close enough to your stand to make that perfect shot? Well, the answer to that question is to use one the many different types and brands of deer scents available today. In fact, if you visit any sporting goods store just prior to the opening day of deer season you will undoubtedly see a large selection of various types of deer scents on their shelves. However, the selection in some stores can be so overwhelming that you find yourself unable to make a choice due to information overload! Therefore, in order to prevent this state of debilitating indecision, it is helpful to know what type of deer scent you need before you ever enter the store. Let’s dive right in.
Glandular and Estrous Deer Scents
Glandular and Estrous deer scents are scents that are harvested from living, captive, deer populations and they consist of four different types:
1) Interdigital Gland Deer Scents: A deer’s Interdigital Glands are located between their hooves on all four legs and they are small, sparsely haired, sacs that open between the toes via a short, wide, duct inside of which you will usually find a yellowish, cheesy looking, material that often has a foul, rancid odor. Because of its position, a minute amount of this material in left in a deer’s track every time it takes a step and, because the molecules that make up this substance evaporate at different rates, this could cause the odor of the track to change over time which may enable a deer (or a predator) to tell how old the track is. Furthermore, each deer’s interdigital glands produce a scent that is unique to each individual animal and which is meant to announce their presence to other deer in the area by depositing a scent trail as the deer travels. Last, a readily available Interdigital scent for this purpose is Tink’s Fresh Tracks.
Best Interdigital Gland Deer Scent:
2) Preorbital Gland Deer Scents: A deer’s “Preorbital” or, Lacrymal Glands are small pockets located in front of a deer’s eyes that are under muscular control and thus they are held closed the majority of the time. However, rutting bucks may open this gland when marking scrapes by rubbing these glands against overhanging branches or when signaling their aggressive intentions to other bucks and, does often open this gland when they are tending their fawns. Also, an excellent Preorbital Glad scent is Code Blue’s Rack Rub.
Best Preorbital Gland Deer Scent:
3) Tarsal Gland Deer Scents: Tarsal Glands are without a doubt the single most important gland to Whitetails and a deer’s Tarsal Glands are located on the insides of both hind legs. Also, they consist of a tuft of elongated hairs on the inside of the deer’s legs and each of these hairs is associated with an enlarged secretory structure called a Sebaceous Gland which secretes a fatty material called a “lipid” that completely coats the hairs. Also, the hairs themselves have specially modified scales to provide greater surface area for holding this fatty material. However, according to research, it is not the lipid that gives the gland its strong musky odor but instead, the smell comes from urine that is deposited on the tarsal gland during a behavior called “rub-urination”.
Therefore, retaining the odor requires daily “recharging” of the gland with urine.Consequently, buck tarsal glands can be used either by themselves or in conjunction with a dominate buck urine scent by dowsing the dried tarsal gland with urine and then dragging it behind you as you walk or, to create a false scent trail or, to make one or more mock scrapes since either method will signal a challenge to any dominate buck in the area. However, the timing for use of this gland is critical and thus it should be noted that they are most effective during the 2 to 3 week period preceding the peak of the rut when scraping activity is also at its peak.However, they may actually be less effective during the peak of the rut when most bucks will be tending does because a buck tending a doe will be less likely to investigate the scent of a possible unknown intruder. Last, Tarsal Glands are available from Tink’s in the form of their Trophy Buck w/Intruder Tarsal Gland package and from Code Blue as the Code Blue Whitetail Tarsal Gland.
Best Tarsal Gland Deer Scents:
4) Doe-in-Estrous Deer Scents: Estrous is the short period immediately after the rut during which the does are actually receptive to breeding and thus, doe-in-estrous deer scents are doe urine scents that are collected from live, captive, does during the height of their estrous period and are used to draw a mature buck to a desired location. However, they are best deployed during the rut when the bucks are concentrating on breeding as many does as possible by either laying down a false scent trail using a drag rag or by dispersing the scent on the breeze using a scent dispenser. Naturally, doe-in-estrous scents are available from Tink’s as their #69 Doe-in-Rut lure which contains a natural doe-in-estrous urine combined with their “secret ingredient” to make it irresistible to the bucks and from Code Blue as Code Blue Whitetail Doe Estrous. However, they are also available as a solid scent wafer from Hunter’s Specialties as their Doe Estrus solid scent wafers.
Best Doe-in-Estrous Deer Scents:
Synthetic Deer Scents
Synthetic deer scents are man-made blends of natural deer scents and they combine two or more different types of scents into a single scent that is designed for a specific purpose such as creating a mock scrape. Therefore, in this case, you would want to combine an interdigital gland scent with a tarsal gland scent and dominate buck urine to create a cocktail that imitates an intruding buck staking a claim by putting out a sign.
1) Synthetic Curiosity Deer Scents: Tink’s makes a synthetic deer lure blend called Tink’s Magnetics that is scientifically designed to play upon a dominate buck’s three weaknesses which are the urge to dominate his rivals, the urge to reproduce, and a deer’s innate curiosity. Consequently, it will have an effect that is very different from natural deer scents and is an effective deer lure for all season use.
Best Syhthetic Curiosity Scent:
2) Mock Scrape Deer Scents: Although “rubs” are relatively simple signposts that involve only scent from the forehead glands, a scrape involves several scent sources and probably has multiple functions in deer communication and reproductive behavior. Thus, scraping activity typically begins with a buck approaching a branch hanging just above his head. Next, the buck will often mouth the branch and then rake it with his antlers; thus declaring his claim to that territory.Also, according to many observations, marking the overhanging branch appears to be a pleasurable process for the deer since they sometimes seem to be almost oblivious to their surroundings when doing so. In addition, it seems obvious that the buck is leaving some type of scent on this overhanging branch although, the exact source is still ambiguous.
However, it is likely that the forehead gland is involved in marking the limb, but other potential scent sources include the preorbital gland, the nasal gland, and even saliva. Then, after the overhead limb is marked, the buck will paw away the leaves directly below the limb and likely leave a scent from the interdigital gland in the pawed area as he does so (the area cleared of leaves varies but typically, a 3- foot diameter circle is common).The buck then steps forward and urinates over his tarsal glands while rubbing them together, allowing urine to flow into the pawed area which leaves a strong and persistent odor and may even stain the soil dark after it has dried.
So, in order to create a mock scrape, you will need an Interdigital Deer scent such as Tink’s Fresh Tracks or Paul Pollick’s Buck Interdigital Scent, a Preorbital deer scent such as Code Blue’s Rack Rub or Paul Pollick’s Buck Preorbital Deer Scent, and a dominate buck deer scent such as Tink’s Trophy Buck Lure or Code Blue’s Whitetail Buck Urine.
Best Mock Scrape Deer Scents:
Curiosity Deer Scents
Curiosity deer scents are deer lures that are designed to peak a deer’s curiosity (which is not difficult to do!) and thus cause them to follow the scent trail in order to investigate its source. Therefore, curiosity scents can consist of either synthetic blends or natural scents and they will often work extremely well either well prior to, and well after, the rut has come and gone. Therefore, curiosity scents should be thought of as general purpose scents meant for use throughout the entire season whereas, doe-in-estrus and mock scrape scents are specialized scents designed for use just prior to, and during, the rut.
1) Curiosity Deer Scents – Although technically classified as a curiosity deer scent because it is specifically designed to attract deer year around by peaking their curiosity, Tink’s Natural Attraction is designed to mimic a new food source and thus cause the deer to follow the scent trail to its source. Therefore, it can be used both prior to, and after, the rut to attract deer to your location.
Best Natural Curiosity Deer Scents:
2) Doe Urine Deer Scents: Doe urine scents differ from doe-in-estrus scents in that they are collected from the doe well prior to, or well after, the rut and thus, they do not contain the heightened sexual hormones that doe-in-estrous scents do. Therefore, doe urine scents such as Tink’s Doe P and Code Blue’s Whitetail Doe Urine are both good choices for pre-rut hunting since they can both be used to simulate a strange deer in the area which will inevitably peak the curiosity of any whitetail deer to the point where they will feel an urge to come and investigate the new animal.
Best Doe Urine Deer Scents:
3) Dominate Buck Urine Deer Scents: Dominate buck urine scents can be collected from the buck either well prior to, or during, the rut depending on their intended purpose and thus they can either contain the heightened sexual hormones present prior to and during the rut or not. Consequently, while they can be used in conjunction with Interdigital and Preorbital deer scents to create a mock scrape, dominate buck scents such as Tink’s Trophy Buck Lure and Code Blue’s Whitetail Buck Urine can also be used to peak a dominate buck’s curiosity as well as his need to dominate his rivals and thus, they are effective both prior to and after the rut as well as during the height of the rut at drawing bucks to your stand. In addition, dominate buck scent is also available as a solid scent wafer from Hunter’s Specialties as their Buck Rut Whitetail solid scent wafers.
Best Dominate Buck Urine Scents:
Cover scents are natural scents that are specifically designed to mimic scents that exist naturally in different environments such as hardwood forests, pine forests, sage brush, ect. and are used to mask our human odor so that the deer to not catch our scent and spook. Also, they are commonly available in both liquid form and solid form and, as a general rule, liquid scents have a stronger smell than solid scents but, they also evaporate faster than solid scents and thus, they must be replenished more often.
In addition, most hunters prefer not to place liquid cover scents directly onto their hunting clothing and thus, they either use a rag impregnated with a liquid cover scent which they hang near their stand or a scent bomb dispenser containing a liquid cover scent. However, solid scent wafers are designed specifically to be attached to a hunter’s clothing and thus, they can be used either alone or, in combination with, a liquid cover scent.
1) Liquid Cover Scents: Liquid cover scents are commonly available in either natural cover scents such as Tink’s Earth or Tink’s Acorn scents or small animal urine cover scents such as Tink’s Red Fox P and Code Blue’s Coon Urine. However, when using natural liquid cover scents, it is important to choose a scent that is indigenous to the foliage that you are hunting in to avoid confusing the deer. For instance, an acorn scent is not appropriate for hunting in a pine forest and a pine scent is not appropriate for hunting in hardwood forest.
Best Liquid Cover Scents:
2) Solid Wafer Cover Scents: Solid wafer cover scents such as those produced by Hunter’s Specialties are also a convenient way to mask your human odor. This type of cover scent is made by impregnating a round, plastic, wafer with a solid rim and an open grid pattern in the center similar in appearance to a waffle with a given scent such as H.S. Fresh Earth, H.S. White Oak Acorn, or the H.S. Western Sage while also molding in a protrusion which contains a metal pin that enables the hunter to attach the cover scent wafer to his shirt or jacket without permanently impregnating the fabric of the garment with the chosen scent.
Best Solid Wafer Cover Scents:
How to Use Deer Scents?
With so many different types of deer scents available, it is important to know which one to use during any time of year and how to deploy them since some deer scents are designed to be used either prior to, or after, the rut while others are designed to be used only during the pre-rut and rut periods.
- Interdigital Gland Deer Scents: In order to make use of interdigital deer scents to create a false deer trail, you can either apply them directly to the soles of your hunting boots or, you can apply them to a “drag rag” which is a piece of fabric with a cord tied to one corner (the other end of which you loop around you ankle) that is dragged along the ground behind you as you walk.
- Preorbital Gland Deer Scents: Preorbital Gland scents are meant to be used to mark territory to peak a deer’s curiosity and especially for creating mock scrapes. Therefore, they are deployed by rubbing on overhang branches along well worn trails to advertise an intruder deer in the area as well as over mock scrapes to add realism to them.
- Tarsal Gland Deer Scents: Although Tarsal Glands can be used dry, they are best when recharged at the beginning of each hunting trip by impregnating them with either pre-estrous doe urine, doe-in-estrous urine, or dominate buck urine (depending on the type of Tarsal Gland you have and whether or not the rut has started), and then they can either be attached to a cord which is then looped around the hunter’s ankle so that the Tarsal Gland drags along the ground behind the hunter to create a false scent trail or it can be hung from a tree limb near a hunter’s stand to simulate an intruder deer or it can be hung over a mock scrape to lend extra realism to it.
- Mock Scrape Deer Scents: To create a mock scrape, you will first need to find a well worn deer trail with a line of scrapes that are already there and then find a place in between two scrapes with overhanging branches adjacent to the trail where you can clear a circle on the ground two to three feet in diameter. Then, you will need to impregnate the bare ground with a buck’s Interdigital Gland scent and well as dominate buck urine which is even better when poured over buck’s Tarsal Gland to give it added realism. Then, you will need to spread some buck Preorbital Gland scent on a branch suspended above your mock scrape to complete the process. Last, if you use a Tarsal Gland to pour the dominate buck urine over, then the Tarsal Gland should also be suspended from a limb overhanging the mock scrape.
- Liquid Cover Scents: All liquid deer scents such as doe-in-estrous scents, curiosity scents, doe urine scents, and dominate buck scents can be used to impregnate a drag rag for laying down a false scent trail or by dispersing the scent on the breeze by placing it in a scent dispenser such as a medicine bottle stuffed with cotton balls or a commercial scent dispenser placed either on the ground near your stand or hanging from a tree limb near your stand. Also, it should be noted that scent dispensers can range from the very basic with nothing more than a reservoir and a wick to the very elaborate with heated reservoirs and electric fans to help disperse the scent.
- Solid Wafer Cover Scents: Solid wafer cover scents were specifically designed so that they could be attached directly to a hunter’s clothing without permanently impregnating the fabric of the garment with the chosen scent. Therefore, they come with either a plastic ring attached to the wafer which folds out or a metal pin attached to the back of the wafer so that it can be pinned to the hunter’s clothing.
Like deer scent lures, deer calls can lure deer in from a wide range because a deer’s hearing is nearly as sensitive as their sense of smell. Therefore, combining a deer call with deer scent lures and deer decoys is a good way to increase your odds of seeing deer while in your stand. Also, it should be noted that deer calls come in a wide range of varieties and types from manual calls to electronic calls. Furthermore, biologists have determined that although deer commonly use one of six different types of vocalizations consisting of dominate, tending, and maternal grunts in addition to pre-estrous doe bleats, doe-in-estrous bleats, and fawn bleats to communicate with each other, they do not appear to have a set language and thus, each deer vocalizes as it pleases.
Consequently, unlike Wild Turkey hunters who have to know exactly what type of call to use when and how, deer hunters simply need to use the correct type of call during the correct time of year in order to pique the deer’s curiosity enough to draw them in. Therefore, deer calls can be a very powerful weapon in a deer hunter’s arsenal when combined with deer scents and deer decoys.
The Different Types of Deer Vocalizations
Fortunately for hunters, deer lack a wide range of vocalizations and thus, their inter-species communications is limited to certain vocalizations sometimes combined with specific body language. Also, they appear to have no set pattern to their vocalizations and thus, three grunts may be just as effective as seven grunts and a short or long pause between sets of grunts may or may not help. However, what we do know is that deer are both curious and social animals and they do frequently communicate with each other and thus, communicating with them ourselves tends to pique their innate curiosity enough to cause them to want to come in and investigate the source of the call. Therefore, it is helpful to know that deer commonly use six different types of vocalizations:
- Grunts: Dominate Grunts are vocalizations that mature male deer make to assert their dominance either to a receptive doe or as a challenge to rival buck and Tending Grunts are vocalizations that mature male deer make when following (aka “tending”) a receptive doe that is ready to breed in order to assert their dominance and to indicate their state of sexual readiness.
- Bleats: Deer bleats consist of three different varieties: pre-estrous doe bleats which does use for general communication, doe-in-estrous bleats which the does use to advertise their presence to mature bucks during the rut, and fawn distress bleats which fawns use to call their mothers in the event that they get into trouble.
- The Snort/Wheeze: The snort/wheeze is a sudden and loud exhalation of air from the deer’s lungs and it is used when two bucks are confronting one another just prior to locking horns for a wrestling match in order to determine dominance.
- Antler Rattling: Prior to and throughout the rut, rival bucks will challenge each other by facing each other with their heads down and antlers pointed forward and then, suddenly rushing at each other and locking horns for a short wrestling match before disengaging and going at it once again until one gives up. Therefore, a fight for dominance between two bucks will draw both bucks and does to the location of the fight because the bucks want to challenge the winner while he is tired and the does want to breed with whoever the winner is.
Manual Deer Calls
Although manually operated deer calls are generally significantly cheaper than electronic deer calls are, they are also commonly limited to only one type of vocalization. Also, although you will see a wide variety of deer calls on the market, most manually operated deer calls can be classified as either a tube type deer call, a can type deer call, or as either rattling antlers or a device that simulates the sound of rattling antlers.
- Tube Type Deer Calls: Grunt Tube deer calls all employ a mouthpiece containing a reed that makes the desired sound when the hunter blows air through the tube and some of them also have a flexible tube attached to the end of the call’s body to help lower the pitch of the sound. Haydel’s DG-87 is a good product, and so is Primo’s Uproar Deer Call.
- Can Type Deer Calls: Can type deer calls are operated by the force of gravity and thus, by turning a can deer call upside down and then back right side up, you cause the weighted plunger to rise to the top of the can and then slowly descend toward the bottom as it emits the desired call. Primo’s Original Can is a superior product in this category.
- Rattling Antlers: While not technically considered a deer call, a set of rattling antlers can simulate the sound of two bucks clashing, wrestling, and then disengaging prior to locking horns once again until one gives up. Thus, because of a deer’s innate curiosity, this sound is likely to draw both does and bucks to the scene of the fight both prior to and during the rut.
Electronic Deer Calls
Although electronic deer calls are significantly more expensive than manual deer calls are, they are also capable of emitting several different types of vocalizations from a single call along with the sound of clashing antlers. Thus, purchasing an electronic deer call is really no more expensive than purchasing three or four different manually operated deer calls.
- Electronic deer calls: Electronic deer calls are a handy tool for the deer hunter to have since they can easily duplicate numerous different types of deer vocalizations and thus, they provide a compact and convenient means of carrying multiple deer calls in a single unit. Also, two excellent electronic deer calls are the Primos Speak Easy Deer Call and the Cass Creek Ergo Electronic Deer Call.
Best Electronic Deer Call:
How to Use Deer Calls
Just like deer scents and deer decoys, deer calls can be effectively used by themselves but are far more effective when combined with either scents or decoys or both. Also, because deer do not appear to have any set language, there is no need to learn an elaborate syntax consisting of different calls. However, the type of deer call that you should use does depend on the phase of the rut because certain calls, when used during wrong phase, will sound unnatural to the deer and may cause them to spook. Therefore, matching the call that you use to the present phase of the rut will provide you with the best possible odds of attracting a deer.
- Grunt Calls: The grunt is the most versatile of all deer calls because a hunter can use it to make a single “contact” grunt (made by both does and bucks in response to other deer), a softer series of 7-10 buck “tending” grunts (made by a buck to a doe during the rut), or even the loud, challenging roar of a buck at the peak of the rut. Therefore, prior to the rut, you will need to use a grunt call to make soft, to moderately-loud, grunt noises that are just loud enough to attract a curious buck but not aggressive enough to sound like a challenge. Also, if your grunt tube is adjustable, you should try to make the grunt sound slightly higher in pitch so that it sounds more like a young buck and thus less threatening. Last, two popular tube-type grunt calls are the Primos Hardwood Grunter and the Primos Power Buck and Doe deer calls.
Best Grunt Calls:
- Roar Calls: The roar call is a specialized buck call designed to issue an auditory challenge to any other bucks in the area and convince them to come to the source of the call to either challenge the rival for possession of a breeding territory or to defend possession of a breeding territory. Therefore, they can be used both prior to and during the rut and they can be combined with snort/wheeze calls and rattling antlers to create added realism by first issuing a long distance challenge using the roar call, then after a short period, you follow up with a short distance challenge call using a the snort/wheeze call, then you switch to rattling antlers to simulate a fight. Thus, a couple of good calls for this purpose are the Primos Buck Roar Deer Call and the Primos LittleBig Roar.
Best Roar Calls:
- Snort/Wheeze Calls: Snort/Wheeze calls are specialized tube type calls that are designed to simulate the sound of a dominate buck issuing a challenge to a rival buck right before attacking him with his horns and thus, they are best used in conjunction with rattling antlers. To employ a snort/wheeze call, first use the call to issue a loud, auditory, challenge to any bucks within hearing distance and then proceed to clash your rattling antlers together to simulate two bucks fighting for dominance. Thus, two good calls for this purpose are the Flambeau Grunt-Snort-Wheeze Call and the Flextone Buck Rage Plus Deer Call.
Best Snort/Wheeze Calls:
- Rattling Antlers: As the rut approaches, it is time to combine a rattling call with your dominate buck grunt call and/or a snort/wheeze challenge call. Therefore, start by issuing a challenge with your tube call and then, to simulate the sound of two bucks fighting, imagine two bucks standing in front of your stand facing one another as they tense their bodies and then charge at each other with antlers aimed and ready. Then, use your rattling antlers to simulate the sound of the two bucks suddenly crashing into each other and then that of both deer twisting their heads back and forth as they attempt to overpower their rival. Then, after a short wrestling match, imagine a sudden and violent disengagement as the two bucks back away from each other and you will have an excellent idea of how to use rattling antlers to attract deer. Also, two products that you might want to consider are Primos Fightin’ Horns and Hunter’s Specialties Heavy Horns Rattle Bag which are both good choices for this purpose.
Best Rattling Antlers:
- Bleat Calls: Bleat calls consist of both tube-type calls and can-type calls and they are most often designed to simulate either a pre-estrous doe bleat, a doe-in-estrous bleat or a fawn bleat. Therefore, pre-estrous bleats calls are effective throughout the season whereas, doe-in-estrous bleat calls are specifically meant for hunting during the rut whereas, and fawn bleat calls will attract both does and bucks throughout the season. Last, two popular calls for this purpose are the Primos “The Can” Family Pack and the Hunter’s Specialty Bleat-in-a-can Deer Call.
Best Bleat Calls:
Food Attractants & Mineral Licks
All animals absolutely require appropriate food sources that their bodies can convert to energy in combination with certain minerals in order for their bodies to function properly. Therefore, in addition, to glandular and estrous deer scents, synthetic deer scents, and curiosity deer scents, Whitetail Deer can also be attracted to a specific location by offering them either a source of food or a source of essential minerals or, both at the same location. However it should be noted that both food attractants and mineral attractants come in one or more of five different forms such as incense sticks, liquids, sprays, powders, and solids.
Also, it should be noted that attractants that produce a strong smell are better for temporary use such as when hunting for day or two in any one location while more permanent attractants are best used for long-term stands and blinds and should be deployed well before the hunting season in order to provide the deer time to find, and become accustomed to, them being there.
- Incense Sticks: The incense sticks used to attract Whitetail Deer are just like the incense sticks that people burn in their homes but, the scents that they produce are specifically designed to be attractive to Whitetail deer rather than Humans. For instance, for those hunter’s who live in the Southeastern U.S., Tink’s has a combo pack called Smokin’ Stick Honey Suckle and 69-X which contains six honey suckle incense sticks and six #69 doe-in-estrous incense sticks. Also, there is another company called Deer Quest that makes Persimmon incense sticks for hunters who live in the Southeast. Last, incense sticks are lightweight and have very little bulk, each stick will burn for approximately two hours, and the scent will stick to anything that it comes into contact with. Thus, they are a good choice hunting in temporary locations.
Best Incense Sticks::
- Sprays: Like incense sticks, spray deer attractants are often convenient to carry in day pack, waist pack, or coat pocket, and they are a good choice for temporary hunting locations because they produce a strong smell that disperses quickly on any breeze to draw deer from afar. Therefore, Tink’s makes five different spray food attractant products such as their Hot Shot Sweet Weed Food Attractant which produces a super sweet smell that attracts both bucks and does and their Salad Dressin’ Sweet Tasting Vegetation Spray which produces a honeysuckle blend that deer find appealing. In addition, Evolved Habitats makes a product called Deer Cane RTH Spray which is a pre-mixed version of their Deer Cane Powder contained in a trigger operated spray bottle that can be sprayed on feed corn, natural browse, or the surrounding foliage to attract Whitetail Deer throughout the season.
- Liquids: Liquid attractant scents are designed to be poured onto food sources such as feed corn or onto the ground and then allowed to soak in to create a permanent attractant site that will attract the deer by its scent and then cause them to “root” the ground where the scent has impregnated it. Therefore, Code Blue makes a liquid deer attractant called Corn Craze that contains ingredients that produce intense aromas that are specifically blended to attract Whitetail Deer and establish a pattern of repeat visits to your feeding site. Also, Evolved Habitats produces nine different liquid deer attractants such as Honey Acorn Buck Jam which combines honey and White Oak Acorn flavors with essential minerals that deer crave to create a mineral lick and Liquid Deer Co-Cainwhich is a combination of essential minerals that will cause deer to actually dig a hole in the ground to get the minerals out!
- Powders: Oddly enough, of the three most popular manufacturers of deer attractants, Evolved Habitats not only has the widest selection of types and blends, they are the only manufacturer that produces deer attractants in powder form that are designed to be mixed with either feed corn or with the loose soil created when you dig a hole and then replace the dirt. In fact, not only are they the only manufacturer of the three to produce a powder form deer attractant, they produce thirteen different ones! For instance, one of their attractants is called Roasted Corn Freaks Mix and it contains a mixture of whole kernel corn, soybeans, and proprietary ingredients that produces a strong food attractant aroma that deer find very attractive. Another favorite of theirs is called Deer Co-Cane Mix which is a powder deer attractant that produces a mineral lick by impregnating the soil and then, the minerals react with moisture in the soil to create a scent trail that draws deer to the site and causes them to paw and dig in the dirt to get at the minerals and keeps them returning time after time.
- Solids: Last but not least, we have solid deer attractants which can mimic either food sources or essential minerals and thus, they are best deployed just prior to hunting season to give the deer time to find them and get used to returning to them before hunting season starts. Also, most solid deer food attractants take the form of a square or rectangular block that combines some sort of sweet deer attractant such as molasses with some sort of grain product. But, Evolved Habitats makes a product called Dirt Block that is made entirely from dried molasses that is very high in carbohydrates which are highly prized by animals but are very difficult to come by in Nature. In addition, Evolved Habitats also makes three more solid food attractant products called Sweet Acorn Buck Licker, Wild Persimmon Buck Licker, and Roasted Corn Freaks Block that are very effective.Then, there are also solid mineral attractants which can take the form of very simple plain or mineral salt blocks purchased at your local livestock feed store or farm supply store to more elaborate mineral attractant blocks such as Evolved habitats Black Magic Rack Rock which is an all natural mineral rock deer supplement containing Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Sodium combined with other trace minerals that are vital to bone and antler growth, muscle development, digestion, and reproduction and Evolved Habitats Apple Mineral Buck Licker which is an apple flavored mineral block with extra calcium and phosphorus for bone and antler growth.
How to Use Food Attractants & Mineral Licks
- Incense Sticks: To use deer attractant incense sticks, you will need to decide on a location to place the stick or sticks. For instance, they can be inserted into the ground or placed in crevices in tree bark and then, once they are in place, you light the end of the incense stick until it has a flame of its own and then, once the tip is glowing cherry red, you blow the flame out and allow the stick to burn on its own. However, you will need to make certain to position your tree stand or ground blind upwind of the incense stick because the scent will stick to anything that it comes into contact with.
- Sprays: To use spray deer attractants, you can either spray the mist onto a food source such as feed corn or spray it onto the surrounding foliage or, if the container produces a fine enough mist, then you can spray the scent in to the air and let the breeze disperse it.
- Liquids: Liquid deer scents are designed to be deployed ether by using them to impregnate a “drag rag” (which is a piece of fabric with a cord attached to one corner and the other end of the cord looped around the hunter’s ankle so that the rag drags along the ground behind the hunter as they walk) with scent in order to create a false scent trail leading to the hunter’s stand and/or by using a scent dispenser such as a medicine bottle stuffed with cotton balls or a manufactured scent dispenser such as a Tink’s Scent Bomb or a Code Blue Drop Time Scent Dispenser which consist of a reservoir and a wick. But, it should be noted that there are even more elaborate scent dispensers that have heated reservoirs to cause the liquid to evaporate more quickly as well as electric fans to help disperse the scent.
Best Scent Dispensers:
- Powders: Powder deer scents are specifically designed to be either mixed with a food source such as feed corn or to be mixed directly into loose soil to create lick by digging a hole in the ground approximately two feet deep and then mixing the powder attractant with the loose soil removed from the hole before placing the dirt back into the hole which, once discovered, will cause the deer to paw and dig at the ground where the attractant is buried and to return again and again to get at the essential minerals buried there.
- Solids: Solid deer attractants generally come in block form and, as such, they are much easier for deer to access than powder deer scents which have been buried in the ground. Thus, some hunters like them better than powder deer attractants since all you have to do is transport them to the location where you intend to leave them, remove them from the packaging, and lay them on the ground.
Best Deer Decoys
When most deer hunters think of deer scents, they don’t automatically think of deer decoys although, they should because these two methods of attracting whitetail deer actually go hand in hand. In fact, when a deer follows a scent trail, they do so with the full expectation of seeing another deer when they arrive at the source of the scent because their nose tells them there should be another deer standing there! Consequently, when their eyes cannot confirm what their nose is telling them, they become confused which also tends to make them both nervous and wary. Therefore, it is a wise idea to use a deer decoy in combination with your deer scents in order to provide the deer with something to focus on when they are approaching the source of your false scent trail.
Furthermore, a deer decoy can be extremely helpful to bow hunters because they can serve to draw in deer that would otherwise pass out of range by piquing the deer’s innate curiosity. Plus, it is quite possible to position your decoy such that when the deer approaches it, their attention will be focused entirely on the decoy and not you as they are properly positioned for the perfect shot. Last, you will undoubtedly be both amazed and entertained by some of the reactions that different deer have to your decoy which can range from mild curiosity to determined suspicion to serious aggression and even rage! Thus, watching a deer interact with a decoy is like watching nature television!
The Different Types of Deer Decoys
It should be noted that there are several different types of deer decoys and, while some are lighter and more portable than others, some are more realistic than others. Therefore, each type of deer decoy has both advantages and disadvantages. Also, it is absolutely imperative that you take extreme caution when transporting a deer decoy so that it will not be mistaken for a real deer by other hunters!
- Silhouette Deer Decoys: Although silhouette deer decoys such as the Montana Decoys “Dreamy” Whitetail Doe or the Montana Decoys “Freshman” Buck lack the level of realism that three dimensional deer decoys display, they are the lightest and easiest type of deer decoy to transport since most of them are made from a durable polyester fabric with a printed, life-like, outer surface that makes them appear real when viewed from the side and yet, are designed to be folded into a small, lightweight, disc. In addition, many hunters have observed that although Whitetail does seem to be more wary around decoys than Whitetail bucks are, when a buck first confronts a silhouette decoy from the side, he tends to treat it as another deer. But, when the decoy apparently disappears as the buck circles it and views it edge on, rather than become spooked, they tend to simply become more curious! Either way, the deer’s attention will be focused on the decoy and not you which can provide you with the few critical moments that you need make the shot.
Best Silhouette Deer Decoys:
- Soft Body Deer Decoys: Instead of being a two dimensional silhouette, most soft body deer decoys are three dimensional figures made from a soft foam material such as the Pimos Scar deer decoy and thus, they present a significantly higher level of realism to the deer. Also, the soft foam body often makes them considerably less noisy when transporting them through thick foliage.
Best Soft Body Deer Decoys:
- Rigid Plastic Deer Decoys: Although rigid, plastic, deer decoys such as the Flambeau Boss Buck and Flambeau Master Doe are by far the most troublesome type of deer decoy to transport into and out of the woods, they are also the most popular type with hunters because they display the highest level of realism to a deer and thus, they work better than silhouette decoys. In addition, they are the most durable type of deer decoy which surprisingly, is a factor since many hunters have reported violent attacks on their dominant buck decoys by other bucks! Furthermore, in most cases, the legs, head, ears, and antlers are all removable and are intended to be stored inside the body cavity of the decoy to make it easier to transport.
Rigid Plastic Deer Decoys:
How To Choose a Deer Decoy
When choosing a deer decoy, you will need to decide between doe and buck decoys, silhouette or three dimensional deer decoys, and static or articulate decoys. However, each aspect should be chosen carefully because each has both advantages and disadvantages that affect the way that deer react to a decoy.
- Silhouette or 3D decoy? There can be no doubt that a silhouette decoy is far lighter and far easier to transport than a full bodied, hard plastic, deer decoy. However, the fact of the matter is that even though deer don’t completely freak out when they circle a silhouette decoy and find that it significantly narrows when viewed edge-on, most hunters agree that deer respond more positively to a full-body deer decoy than they do to a silhouette decoy. Therefore, the distance to your stand, the ruggedness of the terrain that you have to travel through to reach it, and the denseness of the foliage that you must travel through are all al factors to be considered when choosing between a silhouette or full-body deer decoy.
- Buck or doe decoy? When choosing a deer decoy, it is very important that you choose the correct one because different sexes of deer react differently to different sexes of deer decoys. For instance, while both bucks and does are drawn to doe decoys, only bucks are drawn to rival buck decoys. However, does traveling in groups tend to gather around a lone doe decoy and, while this might sound like a good way to draw in a buck, it seems that there is always that one, super suspicious, doe in every group who will snort and stamp at the decoy until she spooks the rest of the herd and causes them to bolt.
But, as a general rule, only bucks will approach a rival buck decoy because bucks always make the approach to any doe in estrous and thus, the does expect the bucks to come to them; not the other way around. However, any mature buck will defend his territory from incursion by a rival buck and thus, only bucks will approach a rival buck deer decoy. Therefore, while doe decoys certainly will attract bucks (especially when combined with either a pre-rut doe pee lure or a doe-in-estrous lure), they will also attract does which may have unwanted consequences. But, buck decoys only attract dominate bucks who are looking for a fight.
- Add some movement! More than one hunter has complained that they have had deer pass within twenty yards of their decoys and never even see them! But, how could this possibly be when deer seen to see everything around them? Well, the fact of the matter is that deer’s eyes are constructed differently from that of a Human’s and thus, their eyes do not discern either color or detail nearly as well as ours do but, they are extremely adept at detecting movement. However, even more hunters have complained that bucks have approached their decoys to a distance just beyond bow range and then stood staring at the decoy while refusing to approach it! Therefore, the best possible way to get the deer to notice and approach your decoy is to add some movement.
For instance the Primos SCARFACE deer decoy has both a head and a tail that will move with the slightest breeze and, either could be manually operated using a length of monofilament fishing line. In addition, other companies such as Tail-Wagger.com make battery operated replacement tails that will cause the tail of your deer decoy to move automatically. However, an inexpensive, low tech, method that many hunters use is to cut a short strip from a lightweight, white, plastic garbage bag which they then pin onto the tail of the decoy to provide movement in a breeze.
How To Place And Position a Deer Decoy?
Placing and positioning your deer decoy involves considerably more than simply setting it up in front of your stand and waiting on a deer to come in for a closer look. Instead the placement of your decoy should dictate your choice of stand locations and both the direction of the prevailing wind as well as the surrounding terrain should dictate the direction the decoy is facing.
- Placing your deer decoy: Although it may sound like an oxymoron, if you want your deer decoy to get noticed, you need to place in a position where the deer can see it. Therefore, placing it where the greatest number of deer can see it from the farthest distance such as in a clearing, on a rise in open country, or on the peak of a ridge or saddle in hilly our mountainous terrain will provide you with the highest odds of attracting a deer to your decoy.
- Head Orientation: Once you have chosen a place to set up your deer decoy, you will need to position it correctly depending on whether you are using a doe or a buck decoy. For instance, a buck will always approach a doe decoy from behind because that it the end he is interested in but, he will always approach a buck decoy from the front because that is where the weaponry is. Therefore, the best scenario is to place your decoy within shooting distance in front of your stand and then orient doe decoys with the head facing into the wind and orient buck decoys with the head facing downwind. That way, the incoming deer can approach the decoy from downwind while also approaching the preferred end.
- Transporting a Deer Decoy (H3): Last, it is extremely important that you always fold or disassemble your deer decoy and place it in a tote sack or duffle bag (preferably in blaze orange) before transporting it to a new location in order to conceal its shape. That way, you can prevent your decoy from being mistaken for a real deer by other overzealous hunters who may decide to shoot first and examine the target later!
Before You Purchase Deer Scents or Food Attractants:
When considering the purchase one or more types of deer hunting scents, there are things that you should be aware of before attempting to choose from among the many different brands and types on the market today. For instance:
Some deer scents are specifically designed for Whitetail Deer hunters while others are specifically designed for Blacktail Deer or Mule Deer hunters.
Deer scents are divided into different categories depending on their intended use. For instance, there are Interdigital Gland scents, Preorbital Gland scents, and Tarsal Gland scents as well as sexual attraction scents like doe-in-estrus urine and, various curiosity scents such as pre-estrous doe urine and dominate buck urine in addition to various synthetic blends designed for all season use along with various types of cover scents.
Some deer scents are designed to be used prior to the rut while others are designed to be used only during the rut.
Gel scents do not evaporate as fast as liquid scents and thus, they do not have to be replenished as often as liquid scents but, they do not smell as strongly liquid scents either.
Deer food attractants simulate either a new food source or a new mineral lick.
Different cover scents are designed for different types of foliage.
So, that concludes our article on understanding deer scents, deer attractants, deer calls, and deer decoys and we hope that you found the information presented herein both interesting and useful since the world of deer scents alone can be mind boggling at best and downright confusing at worst with all of the numerous different manufacturers and products on the market to choose from. However, as stated above, when a deer follows a scent trail they do so expecting to see another deer at the source of that scent and thus, combining deer scent lures with deer decoys is an excellent way to increase your odds of getting a shot at a big buck.
But, while not as complicated as deer scents, choosing and using a deer decoy also requires both knowledge and forethought on the part of the hunter to choose the best decoy for their intended purpose as well as the best location to place the decoy in order to position any incoming deer for a perfect shot. Therefore, the information contained in this guide is intended to provide you with all of the basic knowledge that you need to drastically increase your odds of bagging a trophy buck this deer season by incorporating deer scents, calls, and deer decoys into your hunting strategy.