Every hunter knows the best time to be in the woods hunting whitetail deer is during the rut.
The deer are active, move all day and often travel outside their normal areas. Being out there during this time is great, but if you want to truly maximize your opportunities, you should start using your deer scents about 30 days before the peak in your area.
During the rut, deer mark their territories and share other scent cues with each other using scrapes. Bucks announce their dominance in an area and the does communicate their readiness to mate. By making your own mock scrape, you can put it on a buck’s list of scrapes he checks, leading to a good shot at your hit-list Bruiser. Doing this on the day you hunt reduces its effectiveness; after all, you expect your buck to find it for the first time while you are in the stand. If you start 30 days earlier, you give him time to locate it and he is more likely to visit when you are there.
There are many choices for deer lures on the market. Due to their extremely long shelf life and ability to mimic fresh urine, I prefer synthetic deer scents. The highest quality, most effective brand you could want is the Lucky 7 Synthescent line by Nelson Creek Outdoors. For the first two or three weeks, I use the Buck-In-Rut MAX and Preorbital – Licking Branch GEL scents to create and refresh my mock scrapes. I first start with a hand rake and roughen up the ground in a 30” by 30” area. I choose an area using the same criteria a mature buck would, locating it along a travel corridor on high ground. I also look to place it under some thinner branches that are about deer head high. Once I have the ground clear of debris and the soil loosened to a ½” depth in my scrape, I put about two ounces of synthetic buck urine directly in the scrape. I then use the synthetic preorbital gel, swabbing it on the ends of the branches above the scrape with the included brush. This is the area a buck would rub his antlers, depositing his own glandular scent. This simulates the buck marking his presence. I do not use any doe in heat scent at this time.
For the next two to three weeks, I refresh this mock scrape with the synthetic buck urine. Not much scent is needed, just a couple squirts. Once the does begin to come into estrus, or about one or two weeks before the peak of the rut, I start adding the Lucky 7 Synthescent Doe-In-Heat PLUS scent into the scrape when I refresh them. What I am doing is mimicking the presence of a doe that is ready to breed. This will intensify the buck’s interest in this scrape and he will check more often, hopefully when I am in a nearby stand with my bow or gun.
The above timetable is ideal, but even if you aren’t able to spend as much time as you want in the woods maintaining mock scrapes, creating and refreshing them on a reduced timetable will still increase your odds of harvesting a big buck. Scents can be effective all year long, during both the pre-rut and post-rut period. The Lucky 7 Deer Herd CALM scent and the Preorbital scent are always effective and also act to cover human odor during the season. Just don’t forget a good odor eliminating spray and always pay attention to the wind as well. Your next Trophy Buck may just fall prey to your mock scrape.
About The Author
Brian Sparks is the owner of Nelson Creek Outdoors, a manufacturer of quality Fresh real urine scents and top performing synthetic deer scents.