Deer Scents: They're Not Just For The Rut

Scents and lures can work all season long.

deer hunting scents
Travis Faulkner

During the pre-rut, non-traditional scent-application strategies can help you use a buck’s strongest sense against him. Here’s why I no longer wait for the rut to kick in before hitting the bottle.

STAGE 1: With the much-anticipated whitetail rut still weeks away, trails are the perfect place to start building an ambush plan. I like to create mock deer trails that connect thickly wooded bedding areas to feeding zones and watering holes. The trick is to run these trails through prime ambush points that can be reached and hunted without spooking deer.

Simply clear out narrow trails and spray plain, non-rut buck urine along the routes. Monitor these mock deer trails with game cameras. Because multiple bucks may still be running together, another effective early-season scent-­application tactic is to construct mock community scrapes within close range of prime ambush points. Use urine from multiple bottles to make this ruse more realistic.

By applying liberal doses of buck urine to trails that I’ve cleared, I’m able to lure bucks into areas that afford me the best shot opportunities.

STAGE 2: As the season progresses, shooter bucks will separate from bachelor groups and become more territorial. At this point, the big boys are starting to focus more on defending their turf.

Strategically constructing territorial mock scrapes near key ambush sites is a very productive scent-application technique during the late pre-rut period. For best results, spray dominant buck urine and add tarsal gel to the mock scrape. Next, prepare a licking branch directly above the scrape by generously applying forehead gland and preorbital scent to it. Once again, monitor these sites with game cameras to help you choose the best setups and most productive hunting times. Check cameras sparingly.