A whitetail can have up to 297 million receptors in its nose (comparably, humans have meager 5 million receptors). Therefore, a deer’s keen sense plays an essential role to its day-to-day survival. During the rut a whitetail buck uses every one of its 297 million receptors to locate receptive female deer in estrous. Consequently, using an estrous attracting scent can be a significant way of attracting an amorous buck to your stand, as long as the scent is used correctly.
During my nearly six decades of hunting whitetails across North America I have gained an abundance of information through trial and error, regarding how to best use doe estrus scent. The key factor is to create a realistic olfactory illusion.
How? By using less estrus scent than is usually suggested by many scent manufacturers.
Why? Because using too much estrus scent simply does not smell natural to a buck.
Hence, the over powerful scent can alert a buck to either being very cautious when approaching the area, or, worse yet, even prevent the buck from investigating the estrus scent at all.
Before walking to your stand, place several drops of estrus scent on a clean small piece of cloth. Then, vigorously rub the estrus scent on the sole of one boot and walk to your stand. Once there, keep the estrus scent smelling natural by using only a few drops on a rag, or a scent disperser, and preferably hanging it on a small branch about 2 to 3 feet off the ground. Choose a hanging location for the scent with the most cover available. This cover will give a buck comfort and security to approach the scent. This single tactic will increase the odds ten-fold for the buck to investigate your estrus scent pad. Using a reduced amount of estrus scent in this manner will make the odor smell much more natural than using too much estrus scent. This applies to any brand estrus scent you use.
Does (female deer) do not deposit large amounts of estrus urine throughout the woods. Instead they pee out small amounts to cover larger areas throughout the home range. So, be somewhat conservative when applying estrus scent. Use a common-sense approach. The proper use of estrus scent can definitely increase your buck hunting success, but only when it is used as noted.
The best time use an estrous scent is during the seeking phase--aka the big chase phase--which generally starts on October 31st – Halloween. From then to about November 10th (give or take a day or two on either end), estrus scent will perform very well. As the primary rut comes in, a time when bucks are actively breeding does (commonly from November 15th to the 25th) bucks will "lock down" with does and stay close to them for up to 48 hours. Another excellent time to use estrus scent is during the late-rut that usually takes place in mid-December.
As a manufacturer of a deer estrus scent--Love Potion No. 9--I am often asked how to keep a scent fresh. Firstly, no matter what brand of estrus scent you use, never refrigerate it. Instead, keep it in a cool dark place. Avoid leaving it anywhere where it can get too much sunshine. Many scent manufacturers promote they do not use additives in their scent – but most, if not all, bottled estrus scent contains some minor amount of preservatives.
Visit our website for more information on the rut, and the use of our estrus scent - Love Potion No. 9. We now have Love Potion #9 scent available in 2-ounce bottles instead of 1 ¼ ounce bottles.
Good luck over the next few weeks. Remember, do not over use estrus and you will increase your buck sightings and kill ratio.