Scents, Calls and Decoys: Giving You the Edge
August 19, 2003
A whitetail's senses are so keen that any ethical advantage you can get is worth using. These scents, calls and decoys will help you close the gap.
Much of what leads to shooting a trophy buck hinges on your ability to pick good ambush sites and put in a lot of time sitting there. Even so, there are things you can do to improve your odds during those long hours spent in the field.
For example, six of the last 12 bucks I've shot with a bow came within range for only one reason: I used a grunt call. That's a whopping jump in my success rate for doing nothing more than carrying a small tube and blowing through it when I spotted a nice buck passing in the distance.
Scents can also bring distant bucks into shooting range and position them where you want. Like calls and every other method you can use, they don't work on every buck every day; however, they do work often enough to be important hunting tools. The hunter who already understands the fundamentals of successful whitetail hunting can use scents as another way to create a shot when otherwise there likely wouldn't be one.
The final piece of the deception puzzle comes in the form of a realistic, well-positioned decoy. If a buck is in the right mood and you're using the right setup, he'll see the decoy and perhaps react more decisively than he would when confronted with just calling and/or scent.
In other words, calls, scents and decoys can be part of a three-pronged plan to turn buck sightings into mounts on your wall. Here's a rundown of some of the currently available products, to help you choose just the right tackle for your own hunting situation this year:
As mentioned, I'm a firm believer in the importance of using deer calls to bring big bucks within shooting range. Fortunately, today's hunter has available to him a wide selection of excellent calls that mimic deer vocalizations.
The True Talker, a popular whitetail call from HUNTER'S SPECIALTIES, is one of the most versatile on the market. With it, you can produce virtually any grunt or bleat imaginable, simply by moving your finger along the tone chamber to change the length and vibration frequency of the reed.
By removing your finger from atop the chamber, you can make the deep tones of a mature buck; as you continually shorten the reed by moving your finger along the flexible chamber, the call's tone progresses from a young buck to a doe and finally, to a fawn. The bottom line is that with the True Talker, you don't have to carry more than one call to make every sound needed to attract bucks or does.
Harold Knight and David Hale certainly need no introduction to North America's deer hunters. Nor does their company, KNIGHT & HALE. Over the years, these guys have been extremely successful in both their business efforts and the art of hunting whitetails.
Their latest deer call is the Hands Free Soft Grunter. It fits easily into your mouth — and, because it's soft, it can be held there longer without fatigue. The Hands Free Soft Grunter is ideal for the bowhunter who needs to coax a buck to come out from behind a screen of brush to offer a shot, or when he needs to stop a buck perfectly in a shooting lane without spooking him.
The EZ Gravity Bleat is another new product for 2003 that makes a soft doe bleat when the can is tipped over. Knight & Hale also makes a complete line of conventional grunt and bleat calls, ranging from the EZ-Doe Bleat to the Magnum Deer Grunter.
BLODGETT is a well-known name in turkey calls, and that same attention to product quality also goes into the company's line of deer calls.
SCENTS & SCENT ELIMINATORS
For the whitetail hunter, a complete scent strategy has three parts: (1) scrub away as much human odor as possible right at the source; (2) cover up or absorb whatever's left; and (3) use attractant scents to bring bucks closer and/or position them properly for a shot. Here's some current information on several companies that make fine products for fooling a deer's nose in both ways.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH CENTER is an established name in deer scents and has an incredible line of every kind of scent product. The company's Scent Killer line of odor-elimination products is a perennial favorite of many dedicated deer hunters. It's available in hair and body soaps, laundry detergents, deodorant sticks and various spray-on odor eliminators for your hunting gear and outerwear.
Wildlife Research Center currently makes 12 bottled urine-based products for deer hunters. These run the gamut from such time-tested curiosity scents as Trail's End #307 to doe-in-heat lures, including date-stamped Special Golden Estrus. There's also a complete line of cover scents and lures for use when going after anything from elk to mule deer to bears.
The Ultimate Scrape Dripper is activated by rising temperatures, allowing it to freshen scrapes during the day but shut off at night or when it's raining. It's designed to operate for a week on one ounce of scent.
BUCK STOP is now 50 years old, making it one of the oldest companies in the outdoors industry. Buck Stop has thrived since 1953 by focusing on what works and looking for innovative ways to deliver scent.
One of the company's home-run introductions is a product called Buck Beads. The lure is dry and comes in beads that are dispensed from what looks like a saltshaker. The beads draw moisture from the ground and release their scent over time.
Buck Stop is also famous for producing two scent-industry standards: 200 Proof and Mate-Triks.
Recently, a line of scent-elimination products was added to complement the company's attractant and cover scents. Sold under the Scent Stop label, these products include body soap, spray-on eliminator and laundry soap.
HUNTER'S SPECIALTIES isn't just a call maker; it's also one of the kings of scent-elimination products. The Scent-A-Way line includes practically every conceivable form of soap, shampoo, detergent, wash towels, deodorant and eliminator spray. Surely you've seen or used Primetime Scent Wafers for attracting deer and camouflaging your own odor.
One unique product is called Magic Scrape. A special blend of weatherproof soil and buck urine, it's poured on scrapes to stimulate buck activity.
Many liquid scents are available from Hunter's Specialties. Among them are Premium Doe Estrus, Premium Doe Estrus Plus, Fresh Scrape and Natural Doe Urine. Premium Doe Estrus and Doe Estrus Plus urines are collected from each doe during the few hours she's in heat.
BLODGETT CALLS has introduced its airtight, leakproof Premium Scent Canister, which can be hung on a branch or stuck into the ground. Scent is applied to disposable wicks (included). The color-coded canisters also can serve as yardage markers as they disperse cover scent or deer lure. Each pack contains three canisters and six wicks.
Tink's #69, a product of WELLINGTON OUTDOORS, is the standard in the deer-scents industry. This blend of estrous doe urines is America's best-selling buck lure. You can purchase #69 in almost every imaginable form, from liquid to gel to scent bombs and even solid Scent Stones.
Smoking on stand is often considered to be a no-no. But with Tink's Smokin' Sticks you're actually encouraged to light up. These scent-impregnated sticks, which burn for about two hours, are used to cover human scent and attract game. An additional benefit is that they can tell you precisely which way the wind is blowing during a hunt.
Wellington also makes a wide range of dominant-buck urine blends, elk blends and cover scents. And its Odor Lock line of scent-elimination products contains everything you need to reduce human scent on your body, clothing and gear.
The most revolutionary new scent product from CODE BLUE is Stealth Dust. The powder is designed to latch onto and remove any human scent molecules it contacts. The dust is contained in a fist-sized bag, similar to a baseball player's rosin bag, that can be patted on every layer of clothing. Emphasis should be placed on the areas of highest body-odor concentration: underarms, groin and inside headwear.
Code Blue also makes a new attractant scent called Tarsal Gland Gel. This is simply a new and better way to deploy Code Blue's popular tarsal-gland liquid lure. The intent is to give bucks a reason to come back regularly to freshen scrapes and investigate possible intruders to the dominance hierarchy. The gel lasts longer than liquid urine.
I've known Sam Collora, the owner of MRS. DOE PEE'S, for many years. I've even been to his Iowa home to see his deer-collection facility. Sam's not only a good businessman but also a skilled and skilled trophy whitetail hunter. He knows what works and what doesn't because he's out there all the time, using the products under real-world hunting conditions.
Mrs. Doe Pee's gained national attention with its unique freeze-dried urines. The company found itself in the spotlight again when Sam arrowed a world-class typical while using the company's products during the 1996 season in Iowa.
You won't see a lot of gimmicks in the Mrs. Doe Pee's line — just its Buck-In-Rut, Special Blend estrous urine and Fresh Doe. The line of freeze-dried urines also includes tarsal, scrape and elk scents. There's even a product called Mock Scrape Set, which is a blend of fresh buck-in-rut and doe-in-estrus urines, plus interdigital and tarsal scents.
"Fresh" is the name of the game at NORTHERN WHITETAIL SCENTS, a New York deer breeder with a scent-products line arising from its urine-collection system. This 150-acre farm has its own herd of bottle-raised whitetails developed for scent collection. All of the company's scents are 100 percent natural with no additives or preservatives, and they're bottled and shipped fresh daily.
Northern Whitetail Scents makes four primary urine attractants for deer: doe, doe in estrous, buck and Intruder (a blend of buck urines). Also available are gel-type scents that last longer in the field without breaking down.
Outfitter's Edge deer urine is a 100-percent pure, guaranteed product from ALBERTA'S BEST DEER GROUP. The company has constructed a 1,920-square-foot facility for urine collection.
According to ABDG, during the fall of 2002 roughly 200 sample bottles of its product resulted in encounters with hundreds of whitetails, including a half-dozen bucks that would score in the 170 class or higher on the Boone and Crockett scale.
The company stresses that its captive herd has tested negative for chronic wasting disease, bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis.
For the past two decades, WHITETAIL PRODUCTS has been making innovative hunting scents and accessories. Among the company's offerings are its Scented Candles, a unique way to disperse deer lure into the air. As the wick burns, the scented wax gives off a doe-in-heat scent that then can be carried long distances on the air currents.
Whitetail Products offers a number of types of urines and oils for use by deer hunters, either during or outside the rut. The company has a time-tested urine-collecting and bottling facility that distributes pure, fresh and undiluted urine for sale all over the country. In fact, if you're an especially big scent user, you can literally buy it by the gallon from the company's Web site. You can also see these scents in use on the Whitetail Products televised hunting show, "Closing the Distance," which airs on the Outdoor Channel.
There are two proven ways to use a decoy to lure a mature buck into shooting range. First, you can set up with a doe decoy during the peak of breeding: a time when most does are staying away from open areas where they're constantly harassed. It's possible at these times that your decoy will be the only "doe" in sight when a buck steps out of cover to take a look around.
But decoys aren't just for use during the peak rut. You also can employ a buck decoy earlier in the hunting season, when the local bucks are largely concerned with sorting out their dominance issues. During the final few days before the does start coming into estrus, a buck decoy, accompanied by grunting and even rattling, often will result in heart-pounding action.
CARRY-LITE is the No. 1 maker
of static deer decoys. Its model comes apart easily for safer, simpler transport to and from your stand. You can place the disassembled four-piece decoy into a large mesh bag (provided) and carry it over your shoulder.
This decoy weighs only a few pounds and is held in place with stakes. The antlers can be removed if you want to give the decoy the look of a doe, such as when hunting during the breeding phase of the rut.
It's worth noting that, due to safety concerns, the company recommends its deer decoys be used only in bow season.
Used in the right places, at the right times and in the right ways, deer calls, scents and decoys can regularly turn distant buck sightings into good shot opportunities. I know of no other hunting aids that can do so much to magically transform your deer season from forgettable to memorable.