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That Smell - Bringing In Bucks During the Rut


Hunting season for whitetails encompasses three to four months depending upon which state you choose. Obviously whitetails can be harvested during anytime of the season, but most hunters’ favorite time is the rut. But whitetails can exhibit rut behavior during that entire time, so what most hunters imply by the rut is more specifically, the chase phase and the residual activity that can be caught on either side of actual breeding. Why do hunters like this time? Because there’s more activity and mature bucks are up moving during legal hunting hours more than any other time of year.  

Out of all possible tactics, the use of a scent can show the highest rate of success. Scent isn’t a tactic you should use every time afield, and often it should be used in combination with another form of stimuli like calling or decoys. Scent is a tool that you should have with you always to use when needed. 

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 to kick it into the next gear until the does started exhibiting signs of coming into estrus. During this period a scent trail in Special Golden Estrus can be killer…literally. A Pro-Drag soaked with lure brought through strategic areas and then ended crosswind from your ambush location is a proven tactic. End the trail by hanging the 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. Sometimes bucks will follow the smell emanating from the wick from downwind 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, they will often follow it back in the right direction towards you. Give your bucks the smell they’ve been waiting for!

Photo Credit: Mikael Males

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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