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How to Use Scents: Whitetail Deer

By Jackie

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How I Use Scents
  3. Observation of Whitetail Deer
  4. Truth about Scent Companies and Trade Secrets
  5. When and Why to Use a Particular Lure
  6. Time Frame For Using Particular Lures
  7. How to Lay a Scent Trail



In this article l am going to discuss what I have observed and learned after twenty-six years of breeding and raising Whitetail Deer. Also, I will give in depth instructions on how to use scents properly. I hope the following information will be of some value to you.

Most hunters misinterpret what a deer lure is designed to do. The role of a deer lure is to attract deer from a reasonable distance to a scrape, mock scrape, dripper, or to cause them to follow a scent trail you have laid. When applied properly the lure will aid in positioning the deer for you to place a clean shot. Don't think that just because you are using lure that the buck of a lifetime will appear. He has to be in your hunting area before you can harvest him.

Many hunters think that using scent is magic in a bottle. This is not true nor will it ever be. Deer lure is only one piece of the puzzle.  You must make all parts come together to be successful.  You must be able to read deer signs such as trails, scrapes, rubs, bedding and feeding areas. Plus be able to use the wind to your advantage. You have to do your "homework".  Scouting your particular area without leaving human odor is very important. Also, omitting human odor from your body and clothing is important.


How I Use Scents

Several weeks before the hunting season I will scout the area and hang my treestands. I try to have the wind currents hitting me in the face. I try to lay a scent trail in a parallel course in front of me. This gives me a broadside shot.

When I get about 50 yards from my stand location, I start laying a scent trail with "Jackie's ID #4 Scent" while wearing rubber gloves. Since I strictly bow hunt, I will lay a scent trail about twenty yards from the base of my treestand making a complete circle around the tree.

Be extra careful not to touch anything. When this is done, I hang the drag in an open spot about three feet from the ground. I then hang one film canister on a limb filled with scent, making sure these are placed in an open area and preferably in front of me.

Getting settled in my treestand I spray a few pumps of "Jackie's No-Scent Plus Earth Cover Scent" to my shirt or coat and if perspiring I will apply a few pumps of it to my face and armpits. I will do some light rattling, and give three or four short grunts on my "Posi-Call Deer Grunter". After this, I spray whichever scent I am using for that appropriate part of the season, two or three sprays of molecules in the air. Repeating this method every thirty to forty minutes.

Do not over blow your grunter because deer are not that vocal. It is not natural to use too many scents in an area, plus, never leave your canister unattended. Never apply to your clothing or boot soles. Use a ziplock plastic bag to store the canister and drag when not in use. After using, simply refresh your canister by adding two or three drops of scent for your next hunt.

One question I am asked is "if you have scent left over from the previous season, is it any good?" It all depends where you have stored the scent. If it was kept in cool, dark storage, such as a basement or cellar, it will be okay. If there is an ammonia odor, remove the cap and let the container breathe for a couple of hours. Usually it will dissipate. Never freeze scents, as this will weaken the smell and strength.


Observation of Whitetail Deer

After twenty-six years of raising Whitetail Deer, I have noticed Whitetail Deer rely on their senses to survive.

  1. Radar nose: they have hundreds of millions of receptor sites inside their nose.  We humans on the average have five million receptor sites. (Receptor sites are nerve cells that are exposed to the outside air).
  2. Sight: their eyesight is keen on moving objects. I have noticed if you stand next to something, or stand out in the open and don't move, they hardly ever pick you up.
  3. Hearing: their sense of hearing is keen as a razor.

I have read numerous books by so-called experts that if a young buck's first rack has spikes, or are forkies, they are inferior. This is not true.  I have had young bucks like this that have gone on to be 150-170 class bucks at the age of four years old.

Usually velvet shedding begins here at the farm about the middle of September. This process takes a matter of fifteen minutes once they start rubbing.  They eat the velvet as they rub it off. Once the velvet is gone they are capable of breeding.

Usually the majority of the does start to come into estrus the tenth of November. We have some older does that will come into estrus in October if we have some cool nights. Two signs to watch for: their tail will be standing out, sort of slanted, and she will urinate frequently, but will just do some dripping.

The rubbing of the hind legs on their tarsal glands (both buck and doe will do this) is hereditary, as I have watched fawns do this at three days of age. It is a normal instinct.

Talking with hunters, some of them tell me they are hunting a big buck because they have seen his hoof prints in the mud. I, or no one else, can tell the difference between a mature buck or mature doe's tracks. Although, sometimes a buck's hoof is rounded and a doe's is pointed.

The glands on a Whitetail Deer can really benefit you in hunting, if you know which one to use.  The tarsal gland on the inside of the hind legs are very pungent smelling if they are harvested in the fall of the year. Remove these glands from the deer you have taken. Keep them frozen in a plastic ziplock bag until you are ready to use them. (Must be kept frozen to prevent decaying). When in use, I apply a few drops of deer scent and hang them on a limb or bush in my shooting lane. Be sure to wear rubber gloves.

The forehead gland between the antlers of a buck is waxy if harvested in the fall. I place a piece of this skin. on the overhanging branch over a primary scrape. This is a very good method for hunting.

Does are usually a day coming into estrus, twenty-four hours in estrus and a day going out of estrus. The urine is collected from estrus does October through February. We do not force our does into an estrus cycle with injections because this is not Mother Nature's way and can be harmful to them.


Truth about Scent Companies and Trade Secrets

The deer scent industry today is under a lot of scrutiny, suspicions, and should be. Since I have been in the business, I have to tell you what I have seen and heard. Other than politics, this business is the most deceitful there is. But remember, one bad apple doesn't always spoil the whole batch. Scent companies have been accused and found guilty of diluting their urine products with water, livestock urine, glycerin, and alcohol to increase their volume so they can stretch their profits.

When you see a big name endorsement, have you ever thought of how much money that company had to pay that individual for the use of their picture? Advertising today is a big business. The monster kills in the magazines with full color page advertisement gets your attention, but it doesn't tell you where their supply came from. We have one of the largest Whitetail Deer herds in the scent industry today. Unlike most other scent companies that have to purchase urine from an outside source, put their name on it - not knowing what is inside the bottle, and don't care as long as they make a sale.  Also, how much urine would it take to supply all the chain stores, archery, and sport shops nationwide? Nobody has that many deer, and it cannot be done if the product is 100% pure.

Some of the sale pitches these companies use to sell you are:

  1. Dating the bottle.
  2. Selling estrus urine in August or September that was collected that year.
  3. Some supply dealers with refrigerators.
  4. Color of the urine compared to someone else's product.

I can go on and on with these ridiculous claims. If you will just use some common sense, you will be able to read through them, too. One of the biggest trade secrets in the scent industry today is, with over two hundred companies, big and small, less than 1% of them have their own deer herd.

Have you been sitting in your treestand not seeing any deer, and started thinking about the bottle of scent you just purchased? Did you ask yourself these questions: What is in this bottle of deer scent? Where did it come from? ...when a deer approaches, it stomps it foot, gives a warning blow, or starts to get nervous? If you have seen all of these, start using a real scent, Jackie's Deer Lure.  We know where our raw urine comes from.

I want to hear from you, your likes and dislikes of my products.  When you harvest that "buck of a lifetime" using my products, I want to know.  Drop me a note at the address at top of this website.

When you are using lure, you have to use woodsmanship and deer savvy to read the signs your are seeing.  Many hunters think that just pouring some scent on the ground, or spraying some in the air is magic in a bottle.

In order to be successful using pure Whitetail Deer lures, whether as a curiosity or sex attractant, there are special guidelines to follow.  One who is desirous of using lures must first understand what the lure is basically designed to do.  Understanding WHEN and WHY, HOW and WHERE, and WHICH ONE - in this order - will help you obtain maximum effectiveness and the most positive results possible.

Our pure urines are the most effective aid when dealing with the Whitetail Deer's sense of smell.  Additives and chemicals spell DISASTER when it comes to deer lures.  Our lures are 100% pure.  We bottle what Mother Nature produces.

Preparation in reducing human scent is the number one rule when using lures.  The worst situation is the one where the deer associates human scents with the lure.  This is not good.  Here are some very simple steps to insuring success when using our lures:

  1. Use a scent-free soap, which destroys human scent for your hair and body.
  2. Use a scent-free soap to wash all your clothing.
  3. Use Jackie's No-Scent Plus Earth Cover Scent on your clothing before going to your stand.
  4. Wear rubber gloves and rubber boots, trying not to touch anything when approaching your stand.
  5. Never apply deer scents directly on your clothing.  If you do this will allow direct scent targeting to you!


When and Why to Use a Particular Lure

The time frame of the season will dictate which lure(s) to use. The time frame is of paramount importance.

For instance, never use an "estrus" lure before the rut begins to come into the picture.  If you were to use an estrus lure too early in the season the deer will approach cautiously, if they don't spook first!  If a deer approaches alert and cautious, the chances for a proper shot placement are slim to nothing.  This is not using lure effectively!  So never use estrus in the early season.

Using a lure which is correct for a particular time frame will allow you to experience seeing deer approach in a relaxed and curious nature.  Their attention will be focused on the NEW AROMA in the air - with no caution.  This is what you want!  This is a lure doing its job!


Time Frame For Using Particular Lures

This may vary depending on your region

  • EARLY SEASON: (September to the third week of October)
    • Jackie's Premium Buck Lure
    • Jackie's ID #4 (excellent to use all year)
    • Jackie's Scrape Doctor
    • Jackie's Mock Scrape (2 lb. alkaline powder - for mock scrapes)
    • Jackie's 100 Proof Doe Urine
  • MID-LATE SEASON: (Last week of October through the end of the season)
    • Jackie's Estrus Plus
    • Jackie's Hot Doe/Doe-In-Heat
    • Jackie's Premium Buck Lure
    • Jackie's ID #4
    • Jackie's Triple Discharges


How to Lay a Scent Trail

Using a string that is scent free, attach a piece of cloth to it, start fifty feet (50) from your treestand, walk in a straight line, or if there is a trail they are using close to your treestand lay a scent trail on it.  Walk twenty yards (20) out around the tree in a circle and then hang the drag line on a limb three feet (3) off the ground.  Use rubber gloves when hanging this out.  Always wear rubber sole boots (preferably knee high boots) and do not touch anything with your pant legs.

(I have observed deer on numerous occasions smelling a plant or limb that I have touched with my clothing. You will leave a scent and spook them.)

Remember, to achieve maximum results, the most effective range of lures is about fifty yards from your stand.  The deer can pick up the scent as far off as a hundred yards, but keeping the concentration to fifty yards will help keep the deer's attention focused in that area.  Use the scent trail to lead the deer into your shooting lane where you have placed your scent post.

I recommend Jackie's ID #4. This scent is my personal favorite.

Scent post and primary scrapes are spots where you want the deer to stop.  You can use cotton balls in film canisters or drippers.  Make sure to place your scent post in a clear shooting lane approximately three feet off the ground.  If you use these applicators, remember to take them with you when you leave your hunting area.  Never leave them unattended.  (If you choose not to use cotton balls or a dripper, apply some to foliage.  This is just as effective).

A primary scrape is a scrape that you are looking for to hunt before the rut starts to set in.  They are usually near thick bedding areas, along main trails and corridors.  They always have a over-hanging branch, chewed limbs, and rubs nearby.  They will be fairIy large in size with tine marks, hoofprints, and deer droppings in them.  Also, there will be the smell of buck urine.

Sprinkle a few drops of Jackie's Hot Doe or Jackie's Premium Buck in these.  Do not confuse these with territorial scrapes because the buck will make several of these in his area per season and never returns to check them.  Remember, if a scrape doesn't have tine marks, hoof prints, droppings, smell of buck urine, or chewed tips of branches over it, you are wasting your time hunting over it.

Something I have noticed is, a primary scrape is used year after year.  A trick I have tried that works well is removing dirt and the overhanging branch to another spot, such as a corridor or bedding area.

When I am scouting for dominate buck's bedrooms, I look for clusters or patties of deer droppings in one small area usually in the thickest or second growth underbrush.  I have noticed bucks less than three years of age pass the pellet form of fecal matter.  Older bucks dispose patties or clusters of excrement.

Mock scrapes can be made very simply.  Find a tree with an over-hanging tree limb, remove leaves from the ground with a branch and apply Jackie's Mock Scrape, I have discovered that this is a good way to start a natural scrape by activating an area close to the thick bedding areas.  Always wear rubber gloves and rubber boots.  This product is great to get pictures of what is in an area using a motion hunting camera.

Always remember to reduce your human scent as much as possible.  Take a shower before leaving home, as mentioned before, using a scent-free soap.  Wash your hunting clothes every second time that you wear them, by hand if possible, (not in an automatic washer since it will have perfumed detergent from prior uses) using no-scent clothes wash.  Hang them outside to dry.  Store in a plastic bag or plastic box where household or other odors cannot get on them.  (I have great luck spraying my clothes with my Jackie's Earth Cover Scent before wearing them again.)

Remember one thing: a Whitetail Deer's nose is a thousand times more sensitive than yours.  Use the wind to your advantage.


Happy Hunting

I hope this has been helpful to you in understanding how to use your scents to be more effective.

Your Hunting Friend,


Copywrite Notice

No part of this article shall be copied without the written permission of Jackie Barbour, The Deer Man.