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Synthetic Deer Lures
Better than the Real Stuff?
By Tom Fassbinder

Seasoned veterans of the whitetail woodlot know that for continued survival a mature whitetail buck relies more on his nose than any other sense. For decades hunters have tried to outwit whitetail noses through the uses of lures and attractants that have been extracted from the body juices of live animals.

As a result, there are some really good deer lures which have been extracted from live animals in pure laboratory environments available to today’s whitetail hunters. Hunters Specialties, Wildlife Research Center, Code Blue, Tinks, Buck Stop and Mrs. Doe Pee are just a few of the companies that come to mind when you think of natural deer lures. Some formulas are even mixed with secret ingredients like ground up tarsal gland tissue to enhance their performance. Each company has their own methods, collection systems and unique characteristics that make their products work for hunters throughout North America. 

Recently, several synthetic lures and attractants have become more readily available and are having an impact in the whitetail woods. By definition, the word synthetic indicates that these formulas are 100% man made meaning they are non-urine based formulas containing no animal by-products. Additionally, true synthetic formulas normally do not contain any plant derivatives

Will these newly engineered formulas prove to be better than the real thing? There are an increasing number of synthetic formulas hitting store shelves and they appear to be gaining some momentum with buck hunters. But do they work better than the urine from an estrous doe? The information that follows will give you some insight on a few of the synthetic formulas available today and ultimately help you decide if synthetic lures and attractants are right or you. 

Trophy Advantage – Patent Pending Scent Systems

The Trophy Advantage Scent and Hunting Systems the most powerful and effective Scent Systems ever developed according to owner Gary Parrigan. While performing research for this article, Gary sent me dozens of glowing testimonials from hunters who used his product. By my account, his approach is one of the most radical systems ever developed. 

Trophy Advantage scents are synthetic mixtures which Gary instructs hunters to mix with his or her own 2-6 day old urine. (Contact Gary for details on how to safely and effectively collect and store human urine.) This allows the hunter to put out large amounts of the scent mixture for a fraction of the cost of other scent attractants. Gary feels that putting large amounts scent into the air at one time is the key to successful hunting. Gary says his scents are very effective straight out of the bottle, but mixing them with human urine turns them into a SUPER LURE.

Gary lives in central Ohio and has been bow hunting for about 30 years. Ten years ago he dedicated himself to strictly bow hunting for trophy class animals. Here is Gary’s story, in his own words:

"I take off at least a month a year to bow hunt in Coshocton County. There is no problem locating shooter bucks in this area. It ranks 5th in the state for trophy deer, but my problem was getting close enough to get a shot at them with a bow. I would usually see 3-4 shooters a year chasing does but couldn't get a shot.
After years of scouting, locating, and hunting these trophy deer but ending up empty handed, I decided to rethink my whole strategy on hunting these animals. This meant changing when, where and how I hunted. I knew that the traditional methods were just not working for me. I knew I needed to be much more aggressive and go after them instead of waiting for them to come to me."

"In 1999, while walking through the hunting section of a local sporting goods store I saw my first synthetic deer lure. Here was a product that was extremely strong smelling and advertised an extremely long shelf life. I gave it a try, witnessed positive reactions from deer and determined synthetic products were something I wanted to further test."

I then decided to get radical in my approach to deer hunting. I had been urinating in scrapes for many years and got a real kick out of the reactions from bucks. They would completely destroy the scrape and most of the time, destroy saplings around the scrape. I decided to start storing up my own urine. THAT’S RIGHT, MY OWN URINE. I saved up about a gallon, bought a brand new bottle of synthetic dominant buck urine, did a little modifying of the formula and the rest just fell into place."

"Next, I started placing my tree stands as close to bedding areas as I could without being detected, and placed them so the prevailing winds would be blowing from my stand right into the bedding areas. THAT’S RIGHT, I SET UP SO THE WINDS BLOW FROM ME INTO THE BEDDING AREA. This is much different than conventional tree stand hunting but if you control your human scent effectively it works fabulous. When I go hunting I pour 15 ounces of my own aged urine into a 16 ounce bottle, add 1/2 oz to 1 oz of my synthetic dominant buck urine and shake it up real good."

"I only hunt the bedding area stands when the wind was blowing from my stand into them, and only in the early afternoons until the end of legal hunting hours. My theory is, let the big boys go in there and lie down then try to lure them out. When I get to my stand I would pour 16 oz of the scent mixture on deadfalls, let it run down the side of the trees, and pour it directly into any scrapes that are present, crosswind to widen the scent path. If there weren't any scrapes in the area I made mock scrapes and saturated them with the urine mixture. I also used a forehead gland scent for the licking branches. I am very scent conscience due to the wind blowing my scent into the bedding area as well as the urine scent. Mix these methods with some light rattling and soft grunting about every half hour to 45 minutes and it is a very effective system."

"The first 5 times the scent system was used there were 5 deer shot with bow and arrow. The first buck shot was an 8 pointer with approximately a 26 inch spread. The second big buck was shot out of the same stand. It was a beautiful 12 pointer with a 22-inch spread, and a 34 1/2 inch neck. The deer field dressed at 230 pounds. The 12 pointer grossed 162 5/8's netted 149 7/8's and made Pope and Young and Buckeye Big Bucks."

"One of my buddies, Matt Lehnhart, decided to give my scent mixture a try. Matt was actually hunting in a bedding area. The first time he used the scent he nailed a beautiful 20-inch wide 9 pointer."

"I also used the scent system to kill a 20 in wide 8 pointer on my first bow hunt in WV.  It's quite a story, that deer watched me stand up, turn in the stand, draw back and shoot."

Wildlife Research Center

Ron Bice, from Wildlife Research Center in Anoka, Minnesota says that their extensive research has produced several synthetic products including Hot Musk and Moon Fire. Ron explained that certain scents attract whitetail deer and noted that some scents do it much better than others. Wildlife Research Center has identified, duplicated and successfully incorporated these proven attractor scents into their products.

Ron says Hot-Musk is a unique mixture of secret synthetic musk scents, blended together to create a highly effective buck lure that is also irresistible to does. It has been extensively field tested with remarkable results, Hot-Musk is said to be highly effective from October through December. 

Moon Fire is a secret synthetic formula that the key people at Wildlife Research Center have used for years. Ron says it is extremely effective with a unique deer attractor and penetrating, totally unique musky smell. Moon Fire is formulated without urine or deer by-products 

Ron does not personally advocate using any human urine in conjunction with any of their synthetic or animal based products. Ron states that his personal experience with using human urine in hunting situations has not produced desirable results. 

Wildlife Research Center has a vast array of proven testimonials from successful hunters and significant photo library of whitetail bucks responding favorably to their products.

ProScents Synthetics Deer Lures

Rano Harris of Edgefield Outdoor Products says that surveys show more than 70% of hunters who pursue whitetail deer utilize attractant or cover scents to improve their odds for success each year.  Rano goes on to explain that until very recently, practically all deer attractant scents were largely made from natural whitetail deer urine or other deer-based fluids, such as "extracts" or "tinctures" of ground-up tarsal gland tissue.  

The most popular of these is “doe-in-estrous” urine, which is urine from a doe deer collected during the peak of the estrous cycle.  The idea behind such lures is that the urine of a doe that is ready to breed is a powerful attractant for bucks during the rut.  Other urine-based scents and many different glandular scents are widely marketed, and can be found in hunting country everywhere from large discount stores to the smallest roadside gas station.

Do natural scent products work?  Many hunters say that they do.  However, if you use a scent, and bag a deer, do you really know that the scent was responsible for bringing it in for the shot?  There's often no clear-cut answer, but clearly some scents do appear to work, and some seem to work better than others, in different situations.

Because of variables like freshness, bacterial contamination, and different diets of the deer herds, natural deer scents are not all that consistent in composition or effectiveness.  It was the need for a clean, scientifically formulated, all-synthetic deer scent that could regularly outperform the "real" stuff that led us to develop our line of ProScents Synthetics.  Our field studies have demonstrated that the scientifically-formulated synthetic attractants and special scent boosters in our ProScents products often produce far better results in attracting deer than many natural products.  

Because they contain no animal fluids, these synthetic products won't spoil and can maintain their potency far longer than animal-based products.

Rano said that the world-renowned chemists and animal behavior scientists who helped develop their ProScents Synthetics have identified ways to make their synthetic scents stronger and more effective. In Edgefield's field-tests, the scents produced deer responses at levels that they've not seen before with any other natural or synthetic scents.

I asked Rano why he felt that ProScents Synthetics deer lures might outperform the other scents.  Rano said “First, since they contain no animal waste products or tissues, they're not subject to the rapid decay and spoilage that's a common problem with natural scents.  Therefore, ProScents will stay just as effective next season as this season, and consistent from bottle to bottle”. 

"Next", Rano added, "the "stink" of deer urine is well known to hunters - but that is not generally what makes the scent effective.  In most cases, it's what you can't smell that really attracts the deer.  

Our ProScents synthetic scents include key chemical attractants that have a very strong appeal to deer, along with fragrance "boosters" to increase the power of the scents.  They may smell like natural deer scents to humans, yet they produce totally unique smells to the deer.  These unique odors appear to be easier for a deer to single-out and locate in the woods than "just another bottle of deer urine".  

They increase the animals' curiosity, and seem to cause them to seriously lower their guard.  Often, deer have been seen to approach from considerable distances. "We have seen them come straight up into the wind toward a hunter's location, apparently completely ignoring the scent of the hunter”, Rano said. \

Rano added that ProScents Synthetics are cleaner and safer to handle than natural deer scents, which can contain harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus, Listeria, and E.Coli.   It certainly makes sense that synthetic scents should be safer and more hygienic to deal with than natural deer-fluid-based scents.  

 If you’re using natural deer lure and attractants and have experienced great success, you may want to continue using them. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!)  If you’re the adventuresome type, or have had mediocre results with your current set up and want to try something different, you might want to give one of the synthetic formulas a try. 

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Tom Fassbinder

Tom Fassbinder is the publisher of Whitetail Fanatic magazine -- the definitive source deer hunting enthusiasts turn to for information encompassing all aspects of the whitetail deer hunting scene. 

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