Making your own deer attractants can be quite satisfying.
June 05, 2009
A good bottle of eau de doe or buck pee will run you $8 to $12 at Cabela's, so making your own scents is not about the money; in fact, I recommend you use your own scents and some quality scents from companies with a solid reputation, such as the Wildlife Research Center. Making your own scents is really about having a deeper experience as you try to fool an 8-pointer with a homemade concoction.
Say you're still-hunting in late season and shoot a deer. Slice the tarsal glands off the inner hind legs, store in Ziploc bags and stick in the freezer. Bust them out next October 20, when the new wave of bucks starts scraping and prowling for does. A tarsal tuff from either a doe or buck is the ultimate scent wick. I often hang one near my stand and juice it with fresh buck urine and/or tarsal from a bottle (even if the hock came from a doe). The old and new scents emit a witches' brew that can pull a vagabond buck looking to rumble. Or, when you or a buddy shoot a buck in rut this fall, cut off its wet, reeking glands and use them as described above in hopes of filling a last tag over the next few weeks. Those fresh hocks are the ultimate buck challenger scent.
Try tying a buck-juiced hock to a drag rope along with a wick of hot doe. Sneak to your stand and make a couple circles around it. Through peak rut and into December, a buck might cut your stinky trail and investigate.
Steal a Scrape
Next fall, look for a huge, heavily pawed scrape in a corner of land that you don't hunt much. Then steal it-this is diabolical but perfectly legal. Cut off the chewed-up "lick branch" that dangles over the scrape. Next, use latex gloves and dig up trowels of the dirt, which has been soaked with the urine of multiple bucks and likely some does. Carry it all into a spot a mile away, or onto another property you hunt. Wire the limb 4 feet above a huge scrape you dig upwind of a treestand. Mix in the stinky scrape dirt. That's a killer mock scrape, complete with the saliva, forehead, tarsal and urine of real bucks. Throughout the heist and ruse, wear rubber gloves and cart the branch and dirt in sealed plastic bags to keep off your smell.
After a storm, look for yellow snow. Pee stains and holes at the back of tracks are from does, while stains in the middle of prints are from bucks. Scoop up some yellow snow, carry it to your stand in a bag or bucket, and mix it in a mock scrape, or simply scatter around the ground and up on logs and stumps. Again, it's a fresh, natural and strong attractant. Anytime your hunting spot reeks of real whitetail that is a good thing.
Some Northern hunters I know go a step further. They collect a bucket full of yellow snow, carry it home, let it melt and drain or boil off the water. They bottle the remaining urine of multiple deer and freeze it for next season. That's hardcore, man, but it makes sense.
Smell Sweet (of Vanilla)
A big-buck hunter I know from the Midwest (I'll call him "John") swears by vanilla as a cover and curiosity scent. He takes a 32-ounce spray bottle, fills it three-quarters with a brand like Baker's Imitation Vanilla, adds three tablespoons of pancake syrup and tops it off with more vanilla. "Shake vigorously and you're good to go," says John. "Apply it to your boots and outerwear, and spray on and around your treestand."
Don't wash your pants and coat until the season is over. Re-apply the vanilla concoction on every hunt. "With the continuous use of it on unwashed clothes, you take on sort of a candy store smell," he notes. "It's a little sticky, so as you walk through the woods and grass, you pick up more and more scents that add to the cover up. Plus, it's a pleasing scent to deer and not alarming."