Hi, my name is Dean Vanier with North Woods Common Scents. I'm here to discuss with you how to increase your odds of success by using deer lure and Advanced Scent Hunting Techniques.
The name North Woods comes from where I was born and raised. The North East Kingdom of Vermont. I started making my own cover scents like earth, pine, cedar and apple all of which are common scents of the North Woods. Thus North Woods Common Scents came to be.
I started hunting, fishing and trapping at an early age. While trapping, I discovered that if I could beat an animal's nose, then I could catch them. I took it to the next level and thought that if it works with coyotes and fox then it should work with deer. I learned to hunt from a tree without a tree stand at the age of 13 and used cover scents to mask my scent. I'm not sure if they made tree stands back then but even if they did we could not afford one.
There are many ways to hunt the Whitetail deer: spotting and stocking, still hunting, deer drives, and of course tracking. I believe tracking to be one of the most consistent methods to consistently take big whitetails in New England however conditions need to be favorable and you need to be in reasonable good shape.
I have used most of these methods with success, however the technique I enjoy the most is Calling & Scent hunting. Calling & Scent hunting is totally different than any other method out there. You have the opportunity to see deer doing things you may have not ever seen before such as Scraping hooking, grunting, and sparring. So on and so forth. By using calls and scents to attract a whitetail deer,you are interacting with them. You are communicating with them. You are literally inserting a virtual whitetail deer into the deer woods to make another deer believe that there is or was another deer there.
YOU , are using the animals biggest defense mechanism against him and to your advantage. Remember that term virtual deer. You are intentionally attempting to get that deer's attention. They can hear a acorn hit the forest floor at 50 yards and know what it is. They can see you blink your eyes at 40 yards. They can smell you a 1/4 mile away . Go zero to 35 mph in 3 seconds through the thickest timber out there and they have the ability to appear and disappear without being detected. Lets get this straight.. We are getting his attention on purpose. Once you have done this ( bring that deer close enough for a kill on purpose). It will be one of the hunting high lights of your life. One thing I do believe: If you bring a deer to exactly where you want him by using scent, then you beat that animal. Whether you kill that animal or not ? You beat him. You beat his ears, eyes and nose. You have set that trap and he has come to it. So this method also allows you to be selective and interact with the deer though the entire season. A lot of people out there say calling, rattling and scent either doesn't work or they have never seen it work for them. We have to remember that we live in the most heavily forested state in the nation next to Maine.
We do not have the luxury to see deer react to calling or scent at 150 yards and be able to determine if that buck is a shooter or not. It can be difficult to pick up a deer at 40 yards in New England. We also need to remember that Whitetail will sometimes hold up trying to confirm with their eyes what they are hearing or smelling. Turkey hunters know this very well. Typically it's a Tom that gets hung up and not a Jake. The same works for whitetail. Typically it is a mature buck that hangs up and not a young buck.
Scent hunting is not the magic hat that went on Frosty the snow man's head. A deer is not going to run up to you and say happy birthday. You will experience younger bucks coming in like a school boy to the prom though.
To be consistently successful scent hunting, you need to do your scouting. There is a difference between a lucky hunter and a hunter who is prepared. When you are done scouting go back to the woods and do more scouting. I call it Preparation For The Opportunity.
Preparation = ( Scouting ) for the Opportunity = ( Hunting Season)
Breaking News: Whitetail will not come to scent if they are simply not there. You need to know where the deer are. Buck to doe ratios if possible and the typical wind directions for that area. Also remember your own scent control. If you can't beat his nose, the game is over. Scents are a tool. Like vice grips in your tool box. They can't fix everything but they are sure handy to have if you need them. Scents are like any piece of hunting gear you have. If used properly it will increase your odd of success.
As I had mentioned before, if you can beat the senses you can beat the animal. I will go in to detail on how best to set that trap a little later.
First I'd like to discuss the Whitetail senses for a moment. The Whitetail has only one job in it's life and that is to survive. It relies completely on its ears, eyes and nose not mention the ability to disappear to survive. Each sense works in conjunction with each other to confirm what the other is picking up. Understanding the whitetail senses work independently and collectively will help you understand how to beat them. The first one I like to discuss the whitetail ears.
The ears set high on the Whitetail head and rotate 180 degrees. They never move in the same direction at the same time and they are always searching for a sound that could represent danger. When they hear something both ears lock in, the eyes focus in that direction and the nose kicks into high gear. As I mentioned before the eyes will always try to confirm what he deer is hearing. Be aware of this. A good example is while calling, a buck will pinpoint the exact location of the call. Any unacceptable movement or smell in that area will be picked up and determined to be a danger. Now, the ears can be beat by grunts, bleat calls, rattling, sounding like a turkey or walking like something other than a human. So the whitetail ears can be beat and actually used to your advantage.
The next sense I'd like to discuss is the Whitetail eyes.
The Whitetail eyes set back and on the side of its head.
and it can see 300 degrees around them. A simple turn to the left or right allows the Whitetail to see almost completely behind it. The eyes mainly focus on movement and they cannot distinguish colors with a few slight acceptations.
The eyes can be beat. Simple do not move and have reasonable good camouflage and concealment. Common mistakes one can make, is to scratch your nose a few too many times or to skyline yourself in a tree. Another point I'd like to make is that a deer that is coming into scent is looking for that virtual deer that is or was there. It will be searching intently with its eyes to confirm what its nose is telling it. When that Whitetail gets within 40 yards, I would highly suggest avoiding eye contact with the animal and focusing on the target area. One blink of an eye can cause a deer to hold up, start head bobbing, stomping or snorting. If it's a buck your most likely won't get that show. He will just plain bolt. So remember to avoid eye contact at short ranges.
The next and most important sense I would like to discuss is Whitetail nose. The Whitetail nose is second to none. It depends on its nose for identifying friend or foe, danger or another deer, food, and for reproduction purposes. Experts say a whitetail can smell a half a mile or more under the right conditions. This is his best defensive mechanism. The Whitetail lives by his nose, but it can be beat. Whitetail are very curious animals so curiosity scent such as doe urine or buck urine works well to attract deer early in the year. Food scents such as apple, acorn can attract deer as well.
Buck with Tarsal and Doe in Heat are scents that attract buck during the Rut. Understanding scents and when and where to use them is the key to Improving Your Odds of Success. Particularly during the rut phase. Bucks become predicable as to what they will do. That is when you set the trap.
A trap line has multiple traps. Each one is called a set.
I do the same with deer hunting. I call each stand location a set because it is a trap. Each stand is located in an area that I know deer will come through. Preferably a buck. I certainly enjoy filling my freezer with a nice butterball doe; however I also enjoy the challenge of out witting a nice buck. The set consist of multiple runways,
either natural or mock scraps, along with licking braches. I try to make these sets as desirable as I can for bucks to come in to activate and maintain these scrapes.
I locate the sets near bedding and feeding areas where I know I can access my stand without being picked up. I also know the wind currents will bring my deer scent to the deer. Remember a Whitetail can smell along ways.
What an advantage to have on a long west to east oak ridge. Set your trap on the west side of the ridge. The wind typically blows from the west to the east. If it's a long ridge, odds are that buck will checking for feeding does. Setting up is the key. Keep your stand location downwind from where your scent product is. While bow hunting, if your scent product is 30 yards up wind from your stand and a buck locks up 50 yards down wind, you have a 20 yard shot at him down wind. Mature buck will hang up. You should increase those distances for firearms.
Understanding which scent to use and when to use it is based on the 3 phases of the rut. The Pre Rut, Peak Rut and Post Rut. I try to classify the 3 phases very simply.
October is the Pre Rut phases, November is the Full Rut phase and December is the Post rut phases. I'm not a Biologist, I'm a deer hunter.
Now we could discuss all day long the variables of this time table in accordance with the phase of the moon and temperature changes, Mass crops or the lack of. What we have to remember is that each phases starts gradually and slowly blend into the next, until peak rut is achieved. For example, spring turns to summer and summer to fall and fall to winter. It's a gradual process.
In the Pre Rut which starts in Late September and early October. I use plain doe urine on my boots. This is both a cover scent and a curiosity scent. Whitetail deer are very social and curious animals and it is not unusual to see deer following each other. Usually if you see 1 deer you see 2 or 3. What you are actually doing by using Doe Urine on your boots is. You are basically inserting a virtual whitetail doe into the deer woods. Deer in general find the scent normal. Does and young bucks alike get very curious as to who the new visitor is and investigate. One of my favorite scents I like to use in late September and early October is Buck Urine. Allot of people ask me why Buck Urine? My response is how many people have grunt calls and why? Do you see how the two can work together very effectively to fool the senses? Again we are trying to paint a picture for that deer. The bucks are in bachelor groups and in the process of determining who is who and stack rankings for dominance. By using Buck Urine you are inserting a virtual whitetail buck into the deer woods. Bucks in the area will be very curious as to who this new guy on the block is and will investigate. PLEASE NOTE: USE A SPRAY BOTTLE TO DISPERSE SCENTS. ITS MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE AND LAST MUCH LONGER. A great early season technique is to spray Doe urine on your rubber boots and disperse a little buck urine in an area you know hold buck. If they are there, they will respond.
Throughout October, rubs and scrapes start to appear and continue to increase. I stay very focused on these areas during the Pre Rut phases. It is at this time that the scrapes will be the most active because buck will be maintaining them through the Pre Rut period. Let me briefly run down how the scrape process works. When a buck opens a scrape. He clears a patch of ground approximately 3 ft in diameter depending on how dominate or aggressive he is. Typically there is a licking branch 4 to 6 ft off the ground directly over the scrape area. The buck urinates down his tarsal gland into the scrape in the anticipation that a doe will find it and deposit her urine as she comes into heat. At which point the Buck will track her down until she is ready to breed. That is brief but fairly accurate explanation.
Through October I am hunting scrapes and mock scrapes because bucks are maintaining them. I also start gradually blending Doe in heat into my Doe Urine and Buck with Tarsal into the Buck urine.
By doing this you are inserting 2 virtual whitetail deer progressing as other deer would during the rut.
Remember, Testosterone levels in the bucks and the estrus cycle in does do not happen overnight. Both levels increase gradually. The tarsal gland of the buck actually secretes a clear sticky liquid that initially has very little smell. The liquid from the gland is actually designed to absorbed urine during the rut faze. As the rut progresses the glands become more pungent and musky due to the buck maintaining his scrapes. Again this is the best time to doctor up a real scrap or mock scrapes. I spray the urines into scrapes gradually increasing the amount of Doe in Heat and Buck with Tarsal. As the Testosterone levels in the bucks increase deer actively increases. Bucks are making and maintaining scrapes anticipating the estrus cycle of the does. I will repeat this. What I am actually doing is inserting a virtual whitetail buck and a doe into the deer woods that are progressing with the rut. This makes a buck curious, excited, and most likely aggressive to the fact that another buck is working his scrape line.
As November nears, signs of rutting activity increase. November arrives along with the Rut. Testosterone levels in the bucks and estrogen levels in the does are reaching the peak. This is the time of year I introduce pure Doe in Heat and Buck with Tarsal. Most breeding takes place in mid November and continues to early December until breeding activity comes to an end.
This phases of the rut requires a different technique.
The bucks are no longer maintaining scrapes as they were in October. They are in the chase phase. Buck dominancy has been established and does in the a particular bucks core area most likely have been bread. Bucks will travel long distances during the day and evening hours searching for hot does. Bucks will travel 10 miles or more over the course of an evening making scrapes and hooking during their travel. The difference is they rarely will return to the area to maintain those scrapes if there are no hot does in that immediate area. The key here is to focus on travel areas and where does are feeding. The next step is to give the buck what he wants. A virtual Doe in Heat. I use drag rags while on my way to my set/stand. What this does is create a scent trail all the way to my stand. The longer the trail the better. Any buck crossing will follow the trail to my stand location attempting to locate the doe.
The goal is paint the picture of a hot doe that is lying down. Remember as I had mentioned previously. A mature Buck my not come in like a school boy to the prom. They typically like to circle and confirm visually that what they smell is truly there. Mature animals respond differently than the young. Yes?. Just like humans. Keep this in mind, it is very important when dispersing scent. Always continue up wind from your stand before hanging your drag rag or Scent Dispersal Unit. Again, If you are 40 yards downwind from the scent and a buck locks up at 60 yards down wind, you have him at 20 yards. It is extremely tough to do during bow season. There is a tendency to sit right on top of the scent but try and keep your distance.
As the rut progresses through November I watch the does and patiently wait for the bucks to find them. I also start using a heated scent dispersal unit. Look at it this way: when you wake up at 4:00 in the morning can you smell a cup of cold coffee? No Sah ! The smell of fresh hot coffee certainly gets your attention from across the room. A heated scent dispersal unit will carry your scent for a long ways and keeps the scent at a temperature typical of whitetail. Remember it is very important to paint that picture as well as possible while you set your trap. Understand the defense mechanisms of the whitetail. It's ears, eyes and nose and how to beat them. Understand the 3 phases of the rut and how they progresses. Most importantly know how and when to insert your virtual whitetail into the deer woods. Put all of this information together and you will increase your odds of success using scents.
Hunting Season is this time of year that makes my blood boil.
I love to be in the great North Woods not chasing but attempting to beat an animal that can hear an acorn hit the forest floor for 50 yards. See the blink of an eye at 50 yards. Can smell you a half a mile away and can reach speeds of 35 mph in 3 seconds through the thickest of woods.
It's that kind of challenge that takes me deep into the swamps, thickets and ridges where I know a buck will eventually visit looking for the girls. When he gets there the trap will be set and me and my virtual Doe in Heat will be waiting.