Hunting and Outdoors

Women Afield — Arousing Aromas

A hunter sits in a tree blind with a hunter's orange vest and cap.

Last week, I shared cover and masking scents. This week, I discuss lure and attractant scents.

The other types of scents—often used by hunters—are the lure or attractant scents. These are not to be confused with other types of “attractant” products such as foods or supplements such as salt or mineral licks. The attractants I am referring to are aroma attractants used to draw bucks to your location such as the sex-attractant type of scents used during the rut.

A latex gloved hand drops a scent from a dark bottle on to a key shaped piece of white cloth.
Using cheap latex gloves is a wise decision as it can prevent staining your hands with the lingering odors found in some scents. Photo by Lisa Metheny.

The goal of a lure or attractant scent is to fool the buck into thinking a doe is in estrus and ready for breeding. During a normal breeding pattern, a doe will go through various stages of estrus. As she moves around during her daily routine, she leaves drops of urine rich with hormones and pheromones. The level of hormones and pheromones in her urine tell the buck if she is ready for breeding.

Mimicking Nature

The challenge for the hunter is to create a trail that mimics what a doe would naturally do—in hopes of enticing a buck to come within range. Just as I use the string and cloth method for dispersing cover scent, you can do the same using other lure types of scents as well.

Other methods are to:

  • Apply these scents by hand along the trail with a spray or dropper bottle
  • Use the drip type that slowly dispenses the arousing aroma at a slow rate.

Some hunters like to apply the lure scent directly to the bottom of their boots, although this scent stinks, it is does not have the same knock-you-down effect as the urine from coyotes, foxes or skunks.

The type of lure you use is as important as the way you disperse it. If you have hunted long enough, and are honest enough, you have probably been schooled a time or two by a whitetail—I certainly have. Thankfully, I have been able to chuckle at most of my mistakes, but a mistake using lure scent could have seriously injured me, or worse.

As I applied the lure scent to a piece of fabric tied to a string for my boot, I spilled some on the cuff of my pants. Ignoring the mistake I had just made, I began the long hike to my stand. Reeking of the scent, I slowly and meticulously headed to my stand mimicking a path a doe might take. Half way to my stand, I heard a noise; I turned around to see a buck appear in the woods behind me. The lure scent worked a little too well because the buck was frantically sniffing the trail I just made.

With no time or place to hide, I knelt beside a large tree and attempted to nock an arrow. With his nose to the ground, and breeding on his mind, he quickly covered my tracks as he searched for the doe. In a matter of seconds, I found myself staring nose to nose with a rutting buck. All I could do was scream like a two-year-old.

In one sweeping movement, he crashed through the brush broadcasting his frustration for the rejection he just received. Shaking and smelling like doe pee, the magnitude of the moment left me trembling as I realized I had just escaped a close encounter with a mature rutting buck capable of causing me great harm.

Another lesson learned the hard way.

Making Senses of the Scents

A hunter sits in a tree blind with a hunter's orange vest and cap.
Using cover scents along with lure/attractant scents may help you increase your chances of tagging a mature deer. Photo by Lisa Metheny.

Making sense out of all of these scents can help you increase your chances of success. Despite the often-unpleasant aroma, scents (whether cover or lure and attractant) can serve a purpose other than just cheap entertainment, embarrassing situations or even heart pounding encounters.

Knowing the when, why and how to use certain scent can be a game changer for you.

Do you have any cover, lure or attractant scent tips? Share them with us in the comment section.


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1 Comment;

  1. Ok Lisa, here’s a tip; don’t use “Skunk Screen” when hunting right on the ground.
    One year in the early ’80s, I had a hundred acre place all to myself, which belonged to an inlaw who didn’t hunt, but had cattle on it, just west of Chico. It was almost completely heavily wooded, with a big hill near the center of it, and no improvements or utilities, except a gas well near the back, which gas men would visit constantly. After hunting there three years, I’d tell people all I had up there on that place were coyotes and gas men. Oh, you could bring a broom, sweeping all the trails every evening, and see tracks on top of tracks every morning. Big, huge tracks too. It had a couple of pipelines crossing the place too, and I’d built nice tower stands, with small pens within easy shots, in which corn feeders hung, and salt blocks sat all the time.
    One year, within a week of opening day I guess, they came in and bulldozed a clean firebreak all along the north boundary fence. As much as I hated that, it was maybe forty feet wide, and devoid of everything. Trees, tree roots, grass……..clean as a baby’s butt. Except for all the damned deer tracks. I decided that since I’d hunted there the previous two years, two or three days a week all season without seeing anything but tracks, that maybe I’d be a little unconventional. I parked my cabover camper just inside the front gate one afternoon, a couple hours before dark, and walked east along that track covered firebreak about three hundred yards. There was a nice little Post Oak along the edge, with blade marks on the bark, and briars around the base to help break up my outline. I think I had put a little “Tink’s 69″ on a couple of branches nearby, and sat down against the tree, facing west toward the setting sun, thinking I could lean around the tree also, if a deer or coyote approached from behind. Then, as an afterthought, I blended a few drops of Skunk Screen on an Oak leaf, just about three feet away. Now, I was armed that afternoon with a Remington 740 in 30.06, a 12ga Winchester Super X Model One loaded with 3″ 00 buck, and a 7 1/2” Super Blackhawk with hot handloads. After maybe twenty minutes of the calm still air, and quiet in the woods, I could hear something rustling leaves behind me. I slowly turned, leaning close around that trunk as I sat with my butt flat on the ground, and my guns across my lap, to see a big skunk enter the firebreak, less than a hundred feet behind me. He had his nose to the freshly bladed sandy loam, ambling my way. What to do?…………a closing skunk makes pretty good time, and it was just about the right time to be seeing a deer. Besides, I had three nice guns across my lap, and hadn’t counted on having to jump up without dropping any of them into the freshly graded topsoil so I stood my ground, thinking maybe he’d veer off before getting to me. I was wrong. He ambled right up along side me, close enough that I could hear him sniffing the dirt. I could have poked him with my rifle barrel! Now, about then, I concluded that if I shot and missed, it’d be his turn. Hell, if I didn’t miss, I’d certainly regret it………at a foot from the muzzle. I really had no choice, but to watch as he passed the Skunk Screen on the leaf, and slowly work on down the firebreak another fifty feet or so, until he cut off, into the woods.
    I hunted there the rest of that season without seeing a deer. The next year was ’83. We had a hard freeze that year, for those around here who remember. It iced heavily, then snowed on top of that, and for about two and a half weeks, it got up to 10 or 12 degrees every day, and down to 2 to 4 degrees each night. I was out hunting every availible moment I could. Just at then end of that time, I was hunting there at sunrise one morning, sitting on a short 2×10, in a small Live Oak tree. It was about 4 degrees, when I finally swa a deer! It was a decrepid looking old doe, crossing the white crunchy ice and snow, sounding more like loudly crunching potato chips. I mean this doe looked skinny, wrinkled, and mal-nourished. Close enough, I could’ve hit her with a rock too. Where I was, it was a one buck county, with no doe permits. That’s the only deer I ever saw on that place, but about ten minutes later, I took a beautiful big bitch coyote with my Remington 788 in 6mm with a hot handload for deer. She weighed around forty pounds, which is a big coyote. The males have a bland salt’n pepper coat, while she had a beautiful coat…..deep reds and blacks. I brought that baby home, skinned it out, and salted it on half a sheet of plywood for three weeks. It’s on my den wall today, and I’m more proud of it than any of my other mounts. After it’s all said and done, hunting’s about memories………just remember my story if you’re ever using “Skunk Screen” while sitting right on the ground!

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