Skip to main content

Get The Most Out Of Using Deer Scent

Heath Wood

deer hunting with scent

On many occasions, I have referred back to my childhood memories of watching various hunting videos when writing about a particular subject or sharing a how-to of something that I have learned through experience. One of those tactics I have learned from watching videos and trial and error is using deer scent effectively.

As a young teenager, I can recall viewing videos featuring the late Ben Lee, a pioneer of using scents and lures to attract mature bucks. He was one of the first hunters that I remember that taught these tactics on video. One of his ideas was using the tarsal glands of an actual buck he had harvested, taking those glands, hanging them on a branch, and then pouring buck urine on them to attract other bucks to his stand site.

Another tactic Lee used was that of making a mock scrape. It would be best to remember that this was a time before companies bottled scents and lures commercially. Lee could be observed cutting branches with a saw, taking the limb to another area where he wanted the scrape and would make his own overhead licking branch. He would then make a scrape, pour scent into it, and then put scent on the overhead limb. Now, this tactic is one that almost every hunter is accustomed to.

The fact is, while Lee was starting up what has now become a booming industry, I was one of many who became obsessed with using scents and lures thanks to him. And to be honest, I can say I have learned numerous new ways of using scents by watching hunting videos while discovering other hunters' concepts along the way.

The number one thing that I have learned is that one must use specific scent application tactics that provide the best opportunity to grab a buck's attention and lead him into shooting range. Here are three of those tactics that hunters must try to this fall to bring them in on a string.

scent hammock

Use Scent Drippers On Mock Scrapes

One of the main goals when using scents and lures is to fool a buck into thinking there is another deer in the area. It may be the scent of a doe for breeding purposes, or it could be the scent of a buck to establish dominance. Either way, the scent must be fresh to allow it to work to its full potential. For example, if a buck smells the scent of another buck that was there the day before, it will probably get his attention. However, if he catches the scent dropped an hour earlier, the buck thinks that he is close by, aggravating him and keeping him close to the area if the chance to retaliate appears, which leads to a better chance of making the harvest for the hunter.

The freshness of scent is important when making mock scrapes. Recently companies have manufactured scent applicators that keep scent dripping periodically to ensure the aroma is vital the entire time one will be hunting without having to keep contaminating the area when refreshing scent. Instead, it does it for you.

One of my favorite applicators is the Buck Bomb Scent Hammock. The Scent Hammock is part of the Buck Bombs Scrape Kit that features a Scrape Generator liquid bottle and a bottle of Forehead Gland scent. The Hammock is a rubber netting that holds any of the Buck Bomb’s 4-ounce bottles of scent and immediately turns into a scent dripper. All the hunter needs to do is put a bottle of desired scent upside down in the Hammock, then loosen the cap to release the desired pace of dripping scent. By having scent periodically drip the entire hunt, the aroma stays strong, fooling bucks into thinking that deer is close.

spraying deer scent

Use Aerosol Style Scents

I am going to take another stroll down the old VHS hunting video memory lane. On one of Hunters Specialties popular Primetime Bucks videos, I can recall popular television host and veteran hunter Pat Reeve discussing applying scent to the air. Reeve, who was then relatively new to the video world, talked about spraying his deer scent in the air while sitting in his tree stand. Reeve explained that by periodically spraying scent into the air and letting the wind take it downwind, he was able to keep the scent of another deer in the area fresh.

In today's world of scent, hunters have the advantage of using aerosol to spread scent molecules over a larger area. When using aerosol scents, the scent breaks up into thousands of molecules that stick on anything and everything it lands on when traveling downwind. That means a broader area of scent for deer to smell when approaching the stand site.

I now use this same tactic by using the original Buck Bombs. The aerosol style cans allow for quick sprays and have a trigger that can lock into place, allowing all the remaining scent to disperse, like that of a bug bomb, thus the name. I like to release an entire can in front of where I will be hunting, before getting into my stand or blind, and I also always have an extra one on hand. Every 30 to 45 minutes, I spray 3 to 4 seconds of scent throughout the air; this makes for an excellent lure that keeps bucks intrigued as well as a cover-up for any human odor that might be drifting in the same wind direction.

Use Traditional Trail Drags

scent dragMy scent tactics consist of covering the most considerable amount of area as possible. Like the previously mentioned tactics, this one originally came from seeing a hunting video many years ago.

As earlier mentioned, the late Ben Lee was one of the originals in using scents and lures. On one of his educational videos, I can recall Lee tying tarsal glands from a buck onto a string and dragging it around the area he was hunting to help draw in a trailing buck.  Fast forward approximately ten years later, I used a product from Hunters Specialties, named the Retract A Drag. It was a trail drag with the container that featured a handle to reel up the excess drag and store it inside the container without touching the scent with your hands. Even today, they manufacture the Retract A Drag, and I still love using it.

When using scents and lures, I like to cover a large area, and I want the scent fresh when deer are approaching. Traditionally, hunters use a trail drag on their way to the stand spraying deer urine when they first begin walking towards their stand, which makes a trail of scent along the way for a buck to follow. However, several years ago, I began oppositely using drags. Though it takes slightly more time, I prefer waiting until I get to my stand before applying a doe in estrus scent to my drag, then I drag it away from the stand. By doing this, a buck picks up the scent; as he trails it, the scent gets stronger as he gets where I first initiated the drag, which was at my stand, leading him into shooting range.

Using trail drags covers a large zone around the hunting area. A buck will pick up the smell and begin investigating. When only refreshing scent when you first begin to drag, bucks are more likely to follow the trail right into your lap.

Using scents and lures was a hot topic several years ago when my obsession with hunting began, fueled by watching videos, reading articles, and asking veterans an array of questions. It may have been because many companies were introducing new scents, scent applicators, and sharing methods of using scent. Even though many hunters are still using scents today, it seems like it does not get the hype that hunting personalities once did. Do not let that fool you. Mid to late October through the November rut is an excellent time to try these different scent tactics, and I promise you they still work. 

Latest Content