A lot of feedback in my inbox from hunters all over the county, tells me they’ve been having a tough time finding success so far this season. They’ve done their scouting, practiced and tuned their bows and are putting in long hours in the stand, but still no meat in their coolers to show for it. Mostly, it’s just that it’s the early season and the early season is tough!
The reason the early season is so hard on deer hunters is 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. With the heavy summer rains, 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 question I ask of 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 ideas 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 an 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 that has allowed me to close the distance to within spitting range, from upwind even, is 3-D White Oak Acorn scent. It’s super strong and masks my odor perfectly. I’ve had enough downwind encounters over the past several years to become a huge fan of the stuff.
For attractants, I’m not 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 ways away from the first rut and deer are in a heavy feeding and socializing pattern. That’s why I prefer glandular scents and deer dander scents, they smell like a deer, not deer pee.
This time of year, when the bucks 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 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!