You thought you could smell pretty well? Get this: Studies show that whitetail deer may be 10,000 times more sensitive to odors than we are. Further, scientists say the animals have millions of receptors in their nostrils, and they use them to sort out up to six smells at one time!
Too many hunters fear a buck’s powerful nose. Not me. I try to make it his weakness. Here are my three best scent ruses.
Stink Like A Buck
One November morning I drilled a 10-pointer, walked up, took a step back and said, “Whoa man, you stink!”
The buck’s hind legs and hocks were black and wet from rub-urinating in scrapes. I held my breath and started gutting. Leaves popped. I looked up and saw another 10-pointer bearing down on me! His rack was poised for battle and the hair bristled on his swollen neck.
I shivered and hid behind the dead buck. A rut-crazed animal like that is unpredictable and potentially dangerous, and I figured staying put was my best bet. The intruder marched within 10 yards, grunting and giving me the evil eye. When my deer didn’t pose a threat, the bad dude whirled and trotted off.
True story. It was an awesome and scary experience, and it taught me something: The smell of tarsal is a powerful thing.
Ever since that day, I set a brew of buck urine and tarsal near my stands during the first week of November and just before the bucks start chasing. Sometimes I make scent-posts in the dirt, other times I hang wicks juiced with wild-buck pee. It depends on the terrain and wind direction where I’m hunting. This stuff is strong, and it can pull in a dominant buck on the prowl and spoiling for a fight. You should keep in mind, though, that tarsal can and will scare off young bucks.
Lay the Ultimate Scent Trail
Park your truck and sneak off down through the woods. When you’re 200 yards from where you plan to hunt, tie a drag rag to your boot, soak it with hot-doe lure and walk the rest of the way in. Make a couple of big sweeps around your stand. A buck that comes from any direction might cut the scent and circle in to see what’s up. Take off the rag or boot pads and hang them on a limb 3 feet off the ground and re-juice them with fresh doe pee.
A hot-doe trail can work anytime during the rut, but don’t give up on it too early. Here’s a little secret. It can work better during the first 10 days of the post-rut in late November and early December. There are fewer hot does left to breed, but the bucks are still on the prowl for some action. One of those randy boys might cut your trail and sniff his way right to your stand.
Fake a Scrape
One of my best tactics is to find an active scrape deep in the woods and on the edge of a thicket where old bucks love to travel. Hide a portable stand in a nearby tree – 30 yards away if archery hunting, and 75 to 100 yards off it if hunting with a gun. Then go to work on the scrape in a timely manner just before dark.
One afternoon around 4:30, juice the scrape with tarsal scent. Spread a little hot-doe around while you’re at it. A dominant buck might come along later that night, smell the scent, rip up the scrape and rub-urinate in it. Go back the next afternoon at 4:30, and doctor the scrape again. The buck might return that night and rip it once more. Keep this up for several days, juicing the scrape about the same time every afternoon.
Pretty soon the buck might want to see or encounter the intruder he thinks is putting down all that rank scent for the local does. So he might march in and check the scrape earlier one night, while there is still some shooting light left. You might finally get a crack at him from that stand you set close by.
Bucks are aggressive during the rut. It’s also a time for hunters to get aggressive with the use of scents.
For more deer-hunting advice, go to www.mikehanback.com.