Out of all possible tactics available to whitetail hunters, the use of scent is one that can show the highest rate of success since deer trust their sense of smell above all else. Scent should often be used as a confidence builder in combination with other stimuli like calling or decoys. As an example, if a buck hears rattling and swings downwind to scent-check the area (as most mature bucks will do), but then smells nothing, he is likely to simply avoid the situation. However, if he swings downwind and encounters the smells that should naturally be there, it’s a probable “slam-dunk.” You’ve confirmed the reality of the situation to two senses and exponentially increased your odds.
Bucks have been ready to breed since huge levels of testosterone began surging through their body during late August and September. They’ve been waiting until the does started exhibiting signs of coming into estrus to “kick it into the next gear.” During this period a scent-trail in Special Golden Estrus can be killer…literally.
A Pro-Drag soaked with Special Golden Estrus trailed through strategic areas and then ended crosswind from your ambush location is a proven tactic. End the trail by hanging the Pro-Drag on a branch about four feet off the ground at your maximum effective shooting range crosswind from you. You don’t want the buck to smell you, that’s why crosswind is important rather than upwind or downwind. Sometimes bucks will follow the smell in the breeze from downwind to its source emanating from the wick and you want to draw the buck into the lure before he gets directly downwind of you.
Sometimes (actually a little less than half the time) they’ll follow your trail in the wrong direction. This is why a Pro-Drag will outperform boot pads. It leaves a constant, easy to follow trail for the buck. He can put his nose to the ground and follow it without distraction or having to relocate it. Most of the time if they follow the trail in the wrong direction and don’t find what they’re looking for, eventually they will often follow it back in the right direction…to you.
If the situation calls for it, a “figure “8” scent trail can be a solution for a buck following your trail the wrong way. Lay the trail in a figure “8” and place yourself downwind and a bit crosswind of the intersection of the “8.” Sometimes this may cause more commotion or transfer more foreign odors than is wise, but a trail laid in a figure “8” means regardless of where they cut the trail and despite which way they follow it, eventually they will wind up smack-dab in front of you.
Give your bucks the smell they’ve been waiting for!
This tip is courtesy of the GameKeepers Field Notes, a weekly wildlife and land management email newsletter produced by the Mossy Oak GameKeepers.
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