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When & How To Properly Use Scents & Lures

by Guy Fitzgerald

Having been active in the pursuit of animals with my bow for nearly twenty years, my travels have taken me from Alaska to Florida and from East to West Coast.  Where walking hoofed meals are present, I am not too far away.  I have literally grown up in a 100% hunting and fishing environment, as my dad Can Fitzgerald has been blessed to have made his entire adult living exclusively in the outdoors.  Sure, there are a lot of things I have yet to learn in my life long pursuit to become legendary, but twenty years of experience lends itself to much credibility.   

In our travels nationwide, whether we are filming for our TV shows or Videos, performing seminars, or simply autograph signings for store openings, folks often ask us a large array of questions.

  • How high do you get in the treestand?  
  • How many pounds do you shoot?  
  • Is stalking the best way to hunt?  
  • What do you consider a trophy?  
  • What are you using for arrows, broadheads, etc? 
These questions are great and we enjoy answering them.  I would have to say that perhaps the most often asked questions are along the lines of 
  • "what are the best kinds and/or types of scents and lures to use?" 
  • and "What are some consistent methods of application that I can count on?"
Some of the most exciting and inspiring experiences in my life have come about because of the use of scent attractants and cover scents.  They have proven to be a very effective means of success in the woods.  

There are many scent companies (obviously I am biased to the company that I own), who produce quality scents.  The most common, most effective, and probably the oldest types of scents in existence, from a commercial sales standpoint, are the ever-popular Doe Estrus Urine and the Dominant Buck Urine.

Most of you probably know that our Doe Estrus Lure is called Doe-N-Need, and our Dominant Buck Lure is Rampage.  A third type of scent that proves very effective time and time again, would be the All-Game/All Season scent attractant.  Our Vanilla Killa, or VK was the first and perhaps still the most popular All-Game, All Season Attractant of its kind.  

The fourth type of scent is not usually called an attractant, but a Cover Scent.  Cover scents work to disguise human odors, so the attractants can work their charms.  (Remember, when using scent attractants, especially types that have no animal bi-products in them (VK), deer will circle down wind to figure out what they are smelling and if it is associated with danger.  This is when your cover scents are most important.)  

We never recommend using any kind of attractant without a cover scent.  We strongly feel that the most effective and efficient cover scent on the market today is our own Deer Dander.  Perhaps the greatest feature of our Deer Dander is that it is an attractant, as well as, a cover scent, because it actually makes you smell like a deer!  What better disguise can there be?  This is a must when using VK, Doe-N-Need, Rampage, or any other scent attractants.        

Now that everyone has an understanding of the most commonly used scents, the next question at hand is, how do we apply them?  The four types of scents mentioned, when used properly, are effective in attracting and whitetail deer  in close.  Three methods of scent application proven to work time and again are decoys, scrapes, and ground application.  With these three approaches, you are sure to have a successful hunting experience.  Let's take a closer look at the proper ways to use scents and attractants.    

Decoys have worked well for my dad and I hundreds of times.  In our videos and television shows you will, from time to time, witness our usage of both buck and doe decoys.  McKenzie makes some of the best decoys/targets on the market today.  

Here's what to do.  First, always make sure to put a good cover scent on your boots, pants, and on your hands before handling the decoy.  We recommend taking the decoy in to your stand when you set up and taking it with you when you exit the woods.  If you leave it there, the deer can get used to it, thus adversely affecting its effectiveness.  

Once you get to your set up area, place your decoy at a comfortable shooting distance from your treestand, blind, or wherever your hunting station may be.  You will, of course, need to play the wind in all things you do in the woods.  Although it is not a necessity, you may wish to find a spot where a well used run is nearby.  

A deer can pick up properly applied scent for hundreds of yards; they don't necessarily have to be on a trail to recognize it.  Make sure the decoy is properly fastened to the ground, so the wind won't blow it over.  If the decoy is a buck, you will want to place a few squirts or sprays of the Dominant Buck Urine in the proper area (we'll let you decide where that is?).  If you are using a doe decoy, place a few sprays or squirts of the Doe Estrus Urine in the proper area, as well.  The All-Game attractant, to the dismay of many folks, works extremely well on decoys.  Check out any of our videos and see for yourself!  

Those of you who have viewed our "Ruttin' Rampage" production know what I'm talking about!  In this case, you will want to place a few squirts or sprays of the All-Game Attractant on top of the decoy.  You will be amazed at how well this works!  

After you have applied your scent, go ahead and get into your blind or stand and hunt as usual.  Using scent attractants on decoys will provide some outstanding shot opportunities, as the deer will walk around the decoy while checking it out, puzzled with the fact that the decoy is not moving as another deer would, where the scent is coming from, and why. 

Scrapes, whether natural or mock, provide a very effective means of scent application.  During the pre-rut and on into the rut, bucks will make their scrapes, usually in a line.  They will urinate in them as a way to mark them.  

They will then wait for a doe to come into the scrapes and urinate, as well.   This will let the buck know she is now in full heat and ready to be bred.  He will usually come back and check the scrapes once or twice a day anticipating the doe to have urinated there.  

This is when you can take advantage of the situation for your benefit.  Again, always make sure to spray some cover scent on your boots, pants, hands, etc. before entering the woods.  Then you can proceed to either place some of the Doe Estrus Urine directly into a currently used scrape, or place it in a mock scrape that you make on your own (more on that in a different article).  

The Dominant Buck Urine will also work well in the scrape.  Placing Dominant Buck urine in the scrape will let the existing dominant buck in the area know that he has a challenger to his area and his does.  Almost everytime, the existing dominant buck will come looking for the doe or the intruder.  

Always remember to place your stand or blind at least fifty yards downwind of the scrapes.  Dominant bucks will not usually come directly to their scrapes and check them.  Most of the time they have so many scrapes, that they will walk in a line twenty to thirty yards downwind of the scrapes and check them.  If the scrapes are not hit, the bucks will move on.  They don't like to stop moving if they don't have to.  

If a scrape has been hit, then the bucks will proceed to that particular scrape and check it out accordingly.  When the buck walks downwind of your particular scrape, the ideal situation would be that he will be halfway between your stand and the scrape looking toward it, away from you, with the wind blowing from the buck to you.  This will give you a beautiful twenty to thirty yard shot broadside with the buck looking away!  

I understand that a deer is a deer and sometimes they won't always cooperate with our plans, but this will eventually work out for your benefit if you keep at it.  Again, we've done it many times on video.  

Ground Application
Decoys and scrapes are efficient means of scent application.  But perhaps the most commonly practiced means of scent dispersal is simple ground application.  In this method, you can use trails to your benefit.  

Pick a spot on the edge of a thicket or field where primary runs lead out of and into, then put your cover scent on once again.  I cannot stress the importance of using cover scents, enough.  

A deer lives by its nose.  No matter what else you do, always remember that.  

Once again, runs are not a necessary factor in this process, but they do help.  Figure out where you would like for the deer to be for an ideal shot.  Then simply place a few squirts or sprays of any of the three types of scents discussed.  You can place the scent in the area of choice a couple weeks prior to your hunt and keep it refreshed every couple of days, finally placing a fresh amount there before you get into your stand or blind.  

Or you can just put it out the day of your hunt (this is primarily what we do).  This method works well.  It is the most common type of scent application used in our daily hunting routines.  

When used with a cover scent and combined with decoys, scrapes/mock scrapes, or ground application, scent attractants prove to be one of the most effective means of success in the woods..  Hopefully the words shared here can make a positive difference in the hunting experiences for you.


John 3:16

Watch Guy and Dan as they Co-Host their popular Bowhunting TV series Team Fitzgerald Outdoors TV on The Outdoor Channel (check www.teamfitzgerald.com or call toll free 1-877-423-8124 for show times and information and to Join the new Team Fitzgerald Membership Club! 

For More Information On Guy & Dan Fitzgerald visit www.teamfitzgerald.com

P.S. Check one of our latest video releases "Slam Dunkin' Whitetails & Muley's"

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