A frequent question by many who are fairly new to deer hunting is “What scent should I use?” This is especially true for those who hunt in the post-rut season.
First, some background info – you can lump all scents into two classes:
1. scents that attract, and
2. scents that mask other smells
Attractants are scents like deer odor, sex or a food scent, like apple or acorn. You would normally only use sex scents like buck lure, doe estrous, etc. during the rut when they normally occur.
Masking scents attempt to reduce the scent of something else. A good example is the common cover scents you can buy in the spray bottles to spray your clothes, boots, pack, and other gear to kill the human and other smells.
However, there are other masking scents that are more natural to the environment. LL Rue, the renowned photographer, naturalist, and writer often used fox urine around his blind to help mask his own scent.
Scents like this are not alarming to the deer because they occur naturally and foxes tend to mark their areas all the time.
Here are a few other tips to help you with scents in the field:
– NEVER put attractants on your clothing or boots. Use a drag cloth, put a few drops of attractant on it and drag it behind you when you head to the blind.
– Put a few drops of attractant on a cloth or wick and hang it on a limb within shooting distance of your blind
– Use less than you think. A deer is very sensitive to odors and has been described as 100 times more sensitive than that of humans.
– Pay attention to your own smells – use good scent reduction methods such as soaps for you and your clothes, only wear your hunting clothes in the field and keep them in a bag or sealed container when not in use.
The only one I would use post-rut would be a normal deer scent or possibly a food – and that only if it occurs naturally in that area at that time. For example – an apple smell in late season in the North when the temps are in the teens and there is snow on ground is not too natural!
You can use scents for whitetail deer hunting in the post-rut period but do it very lightly and only use those that are natural to the area that time of year.
There are so many more things to consider to be successful and the experienced hunter will pay attention to all of them if he wants to bag that big buck.