How to Use Natural and Synthetic Scents to Attract Whitetail Deer – Foundry Outdoors
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How to Use Natural and Synthetic Scents to Attract Whitetail Deer

     Any experienced and honest deer hunter will tell you that hunting Whitetail Deer is not an easy thing to do and thus, most deer hunters will take any advantage they can get to trick a deer into coming within shooting range so that they can fill their tags. Consequently, using either natural or synthetic deer scents is one of the most popular methods of attracting deer to a stand or ground blind. In fact, if you visit any well stocked sporting goods store just prior to the opening of deer season, you will very likely see an entire shelf devoted to both natural and synthetic deer scents from companies such as Tinks and Code Blue among others. But, how do you choose one or more scents from among the many and how do you use them to attract deer to your desired location?

     Well, first of all, you need to be aware that deer scents are divided into natural and synthetic scents and that they are further divided into glandular scents, estrous scents, and curiosity scents. Thus, as the name implies, natural glandular and estrous deer scents are scents that are harvested from living, captive, deer populations and they consist of four different types which are Interdigital Gland scents, Preorbital or Lacrymal Gland scents, Tarsal Gland scents and, Doe-in-Estrus scents.

     So, to begin with, Doe-in-Estrus scents are by far the most familiar to deer hunters and thus, they are the most popular. However, they are only useful during the short period immediately after the rut during which the does are actually receptive to breeding. Thus, doe-in-estrous scents are best deployed during the rut when the bucks are concentrating on breeding as many does as possible. Therefore, such products as Tink’s #69 Doe-in-Rut scent or Code Blue’s Whitetail Doe Estrous scent can be used by either laying down a false scent trail by applying a small amount of the urine to a rag which you then attach to your ankle so that drags along the ground behind you (aka “drag rag”) as you walk into your stand or, by dispersing the scent on the breeze using a scent dispenser.

     Next, Tarsal Glands are the single most important gland to deer and their tarsal glands are located on both hind legs. Also, they consist of a tuft of elongated hairs on the inside of the deer’s legs and they give off a strong, musky, odor when a deer urinates on them which, in turn, leaves a distinctive scent on the ground to announce their presence. Consequently, buck tarsal glands can be used either by themselves or in conjunction with a dominate buck urine scent by dowsing the dried tarsal gland with urine and then dragging it behind you as you walk to create a false scent trail or, to make one or more mock scrapes since either method will signal a challenge to any dominate buck in the area. However, the timing for use of this gland is critical and thus it should be noted that they are most effective during the 2 to 3 week period preceding the peak of the rut when scraping activity is also at its peak.

     Furthermore, most deer hunters are familiar with both “rubs” and “scrapes” and, while rubs generally only involve the use of the Preorbital Gland, scrapes commonly involve a deer mouthing small, low hanging, branches and then raking them with his antlers to deposit scents. Then, he will scrape the debris from a small patch of ground and then dribble urine over his tarsal glands onto the bare dirt to announce his presence to both other bucks and does. So, in order to create a mock scrape, you will need an Interdigital Deer scent such as Tink’s Fresh Tracks, a Preorbital deer scent such as Code Blue’s Rack Rub, and a dominate buck deer scent such as Tink’s Trophy Buck Lure or Code Blue’s Whitetail Buck Urine.

     Thus, a deer’s Interdigital Glands are located between their hooves and they are small sacks between a deer’s toes that exude a yellow substance that has a foul, rancid, odor that is unique to each deer and which is meant to announce their presence to other deer in the area. Therefore, interdigital gland scents are meant to be used either to create a mock scrape or by themselves prior to the rut in order to create a tail that will peak a deer’s curiosity and lead it to your stand and this can be done by applying a bit of the scent to a rag which you then attach to your ankle via a cord and allow it to drag along the ground behind you (aka “drag rag”) as you walk to your stand or blind.

     Next, a deer’s Preorbital or, Lacrymal Glands are small pockets located in front of a deer’s eyes and rutting bucks often use the secretions from this gland when marking scrapes by rubbing these glands against overhanging branches. Thus, preorbital gland scents are also meant to be used when creating a mock scrape by applying a bit of a product such as Code Blue’s Rack Rub to limbs located above the mock scrape to make it seem more like an actual scrape made by a mature buck.

     In addition, dominate buck urine scents are collected from a buck either prior to, or during, the rut depending on their intended purpose and thus they can either contain the heightened sexual hormones present prior to and during the rut or not. Consequently, while they can be used in conjunction with Interdigital and Preorbital deer scents to create a mock scrape, dominate buck scents such as Tink’s Trophy Buck Lure and Code Blue’s Whitetail Buck Urine can also be used to peak a dominate buck’s curiosity as well as his need to dominate his rivals. Thus, dominate buck scents are effective both prior to and after the rut as well as during the height of the rut at drawing bucks to your stand by causing a dominate buck to believe that a rival buck has invaded his territory which will cause him to follow the scent trail to investigate.

     Plus, in addition to the natural deer scents mentioned above, there are also various types of synthetic deer scents which can also be used to attract deer to a desired location. Therefore, synthetic deer scents are man-made blends of natural deer scents that combine two or more different types of natural scents into a single scent that is designed for a specific purpose such as creating a mock scrape. For instance, Tink’s makes a synthetic deer lure blend called Tink’s Magnetics that is scientifically designed to play upon a dominate buck’s three weaknesses which are the urge to dominate his rivals, the urge to reproduce, and a deer’s innate curiosity. Thus, this type of deer scent can be used any time during the open season by again applying it to a drag rag or by using a scent dispenser.

     Also, you should be aware that doe urine scents differ from doe-in-estrus scents in that they are collected from the doe prior to, or well after, the rut and thus, they do not contain the heightened sexual hormones that doe-in-estrous scents do. Therefore, doe urine scents such as Tink’s Doe P and Code Blue’s Whitetail Doe Urine are both good choices for pre-rut hunting since they can both be used to simulate a strange deer in the area which will inevitably peak the curiosity of any whitetail deer to the point where they will feel an urge to come and investigate the new animal.

     So, by using either natural or synthetic deer scents to either pique a buck’s curiosity or, to cause him to believe that a doe in estrus is available for breeding or, that another dominate buck has invaded his territory, you can drastically increase your chances of drawing a mature buck close enough to your stand to take a shot. However, for the best possible chance at harvesting a mature buck this season, then you should consider employing all of the methods mentioned above since creating mock scrapes in conjunction with creating scent trails by using a drag rag and by dispensing scent close to your stand or blind via a scent dispenser will all work to make your efforts at fooling a buck significantly more effective.



Written by,


Bill Bernhardt

Outdoor Professional

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