Sex sells when it comes to deer scents

Using scents throughout the rutting period is mainstream to what most deer hunters accept as scent luring the animals into range. To whitetail deer, odors are a language until themselves that tell a very pungent story.

Like any good soap opera, the story line gets more exciting, or more frustrating, depending on who’s smelling who and what they smell like. It’s also a challenge in many areas around the Carolinas due to lack of a highly defined rutting period.

“Patterning the rut it is always a little hit or miss here in the Carolinas because the rut here is more like a trickle rut than a hard and fast rule,” said Kyle Clark of Doc’s Deer Scents. “Up north, you know between Halloween and Thanksgiving, the meat of the first rut is going to take place in that four to five weeks. Here, I’ve witnessed rutting activity as early as the first couple of days in October and as late as post-Thanksgiving.”

Similar to food-based attractants, you don’t want to put out sex attractants unless it’s in season.

A drag rag or scent wick is a time-tested method for spreading deer scent products through the woods.

“I always tell people my strategy is not to use rut products until you witness it on your property,” he said. “Sometimes, using estrous-based urines and stuff like that too early will make does act finicky, like they know something doesn’t seem right. Bucks key in on that quick.”

When Clark refers to rutting activity, he is referring to bucks actively chasing does, whether he sees that from the stand, on a trail camera or through his windshield on the drive home. Targeting rubbing and scraping activity is more pre-rut, and your scent-based strategy should be used accordingly.

“Rubbing, scraping — that’s the territory marking phase to me,” he said. “I would still be focusing on using buck urine. I would still be using that strategy because that’s when they’re marking their territory, they’re aggressive, they’re defending their turf. Once you physically witness some chasing or seeking, true mating activity going on, that’s when I start using the estrous products.”

With Chronic Wasting Disease running rampant in many parts of the country, South Carolina currently has a ban on store-bought natural urine attractants for deer. But plenty of synthetic choices are on the market, and many hunters swear by them. In North Carolina, natural scents are banned in certain counties during certain times of the year. For more information on using deer scents in South Carolina, visit dnr.sc.gov. For deer hunting in North Carolina, visit ncwildlife.com.

About Phillip Gentry 821 Articles
Phillip Gentry of Waterloo, S.C., is an avid outdoorsman and said if it swims, flies, hops or crawls, he's usually not too far behind.

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