I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from hunters all over the county, who have been having a tough time finding success so far this season. It seems they’ve done their scouting, practiced and tuned their bows and are putting in long hours in the stand, with no antlers to show for it. Mostly, I just encourage them to hang in there; it’s the early season and the early season is tough!
The reasons the early season is so hard on deer hunters bent on shooting a large buck are that the odds are overwhelmingly in the favor of the deer. For starters, the vegetation is still thick, providing plenty of cover for deer to travel. Food is available practically everywhere right in front of a deer’s nose and the still hot daytime temperatures cause deer, especially the big bucks, to travel predominantly before and after legal shooting light.
This brings me to the first topic of discussion with the frustrated hunters: are you using scent? Both cover scent as well as attractant scents have always been a big part of my arsenal and I rely on them heavily this time of the season. But not every scent is applicable to every situation, so I’ll break down for you, my thoughts on using cover scent and attractant scents this time of the season.
Cover scents are basically used to “cover up” your human scent and mask it from where you walked into and out of the area. Scent control is paramount; bathing and doing your laundry with fragrance free soaps, deodorants and detergents. But, that’s not enough because as clean as you are, you still have odor, you still smell like a human, just a clean one. So, a good cover scent can make a big difference in whether or not your scent gets picked up by a whitetail.
There is a wide range of scents out there, with the most popular appearing to be pine or fresh earth. I’ve used both with varying degrees of effectiveness, but the best I’ve used yet, a scent which has allowed me to close the distance to within spitting range, from upwind even, is Pure One, Acorn Scent from Cabelas. It’s super strong and masks my odor perfectly. Now, this isn’t a commercial, I get nothing out of it. But for a ten dollar investment to help you fill your freezer….
For attractants, I’m not a big fan of food based scents, nor am I a big fan of urine based scents. I know that the store shelves are stocked with urine scents, especially doe in estrous. While those scents definitely have their uses, now simply isn’t the time. We’re still a month away from the first rut and deer are in a heavy feeding and socializing pattern. That’s why I prefer glandular scents, they smell like a deer, not deer pee.
This time of year, when the buck are breaking out of their bachelor groups and intermingling again amongst the doe and fawn herd, they are curious about other deer in their area. When a buck travels through a feeding area, if he smells another deer, not where another deer has urinated, but what he thinks is another deer, he’ll often stop by to introduce himself. That’s when you close the deal and take to social media to share your photos from the hunt!
As always, if you have any questions or comments on this week’s column, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!