Can a white-tailed buck actually be fooled by the use of real or artificial doe scents? After considerable research has been conducted on the use of such deer scents — as well as tons of anecdotal reports from hunters in the field — much of the evidence offers up marginal results.
For certain the jury is still out on this one.
Have you ever used these products? Have you ever killed a deer directly responding to the application of doe pee in a bottle, a hanging drip bottle, liquid buck scents, sticky gel deer attractants, deer scent-soaked felt wicks suspended from branches or any other mode of deer scent use? Have you even seen a deer smelling or licking this stuff while you were hunting on a stand?
Those are reasonable questions to ask.
Do deer scents work?
The general answer to all this is that, yes, hunters have witnessed deer responding to these scents.
But it’s also true that many have not; their use is no more or less successful than using buck grunt calls, antler rattling devices, or the use of doe or buck decoys.
The conditions have to be just right to make scents function effectively. And then deer have to be in a receptive mood.
As deer hunters likely know from years of their own experiences in the woods, there are numerous illusive factors working to make these deer hunting products work. The problem is there does not seem to be any fixed set of circumstances in which they can be replied upon to work consistently.
Factors impacting the successful performance of deer scents and their delivery systems include wind direction and velocity; and mists, fogs, sprinkles, rains and downpours.
Even relative humidity can impact the effectiveness of deer scents used in the field. Moist air makes scents work better and last longer, but a rain or blowing wind can kill scents dead as a hammer.
“How scents are used and placement can also play a role in the positive results that hunters can get from deer scents,” Blue Code’s Lawrence Taylor said. “The mode of delivery can be a factor too, such as felt wicks, drip bottles, gels placed directly on tree limbs, sprays applied to bush leaves or the ground, or canned scent bombs simply released into the deer hunting environment.
“All of these factors can make a huge difference in success or failure.”
So scents can work, but the when and where might make the decisive difference in the wow factor resulting in a doe in the freezer or a nice buck being taken to the taxidermist.
Using deer scents effectively
If you want to be overwhelmed and dumbfounded, walk the aisles of your local hunting supply store and look at all the deer scent products for sale. Check out the many different ways they can be used in the field.
It can be mindboggling.
In terms of categories, you have doe scents and buck scents. The whole intent of a deer scent is to attract a buck within shooting range by fooling its nose with either a doe scent or a scent faking the presence of another buck.
You have to choose which scent strategy you want to use — and when and where to use it.
Typically, the way to go is to go simple, at least at first.
“I recommend you start by picking a doe scent, such as a basic doe urine (preferably an estrus derivative),” Madison hunter Beau Starkey advised. “Any buck on the search for a doe in heat should react with positive curiosity to such a scent.
This kind of scent can be used pre-rut, during the rut and again if there is a tertiary or third rut a bit later on, after most of the chasing and tending is over.
“I like to use the Wildlife Research felt hangers that have a hole in them to slide over a small, overhanging limb in an area I hunt. I want to be able to see the scent wick from my stand, but not sit right on top of it. These felts are easy to use, because they can be hung on the limb; then a bottle of scent can be opened to let the wick slip down inside the container to soak up the scent. That way I don’t have to touch the scent or let it drip on me.”
I have had success by using Code Blue drags or the company’s double drags. You simply pour your scent on the drag tentacles and attach the drag cord to your boot before walking into your hunting area.
On the double drag, you apply doe estrus scent on the front tentacles and buck scent on the rear ones to simulate a buck following a doe in heat.
I have had bucks actually follow my drag trail right to my standm— but unfortunately they were not shooters.
I expect the law of averages to take care of that one day.
So deer scents and their various kinds of delivery systems can pay off for deer hunters if used appropriately under advantageous conditions.
If you find they do not often work for you, don’t give up. Just changed up the what, when and where until you lure that big buck into range.