Scent sense: Decoys, blinds complement doe-scent products
A few days ago deer were running willy-nilly across the hills and vales of southern Wisconsin. This weekend only a small percentage of the doe population is in red-hot estrus with fat-necked bucks willing to throw caution in the wind for a chance at hooking up.
Deer hunters spend a fortune on doe estrus products every year. When conditions are just right, contents of pricy little vials of hormone-laden urine can mesmerize the native intelligence of the savviest buck.
If your inventory of “doe in heat” was depleted last week, go buy some more. For the next six or seven days, these pungent potions can perform as advertised.
Scent control and movement are the two major impediments to gracing that spot over the fireplace with antlers.
If bucks see you or smell you before ghosting into arrow range, the deer story is over before it begins.
I’m fanatic about being scent-free. My only concession to using a masking scent is a willing shuffle through a pile of deer spoor on the way to a stand.
Stand selection is also important if you want to bag that buck of dreams. The wind is a major ally to whitetail deer. With few leaves to conceal movement, even the best-placed tree stand may not be your best option.
A portable ground blind is not the perfect solution, but it may be your best option. A ground blind does a wonderful job of concealing movement and a decent job of controlling scent—especially if you’ve made every attempt to remain scent free.
The biggest downside of hunting from a portable ground blind is limited visibility. There is a good chance you won’t see a big buck coming until he’s in easy bow range.
Of course, if the blind isn’t placed near a heavily traveled corridor, a buck might not come by at all.
Deer will always play the wind. Keep this in mind when setting up the blind. Although deer are naturally curious, a camo-fabric hut won’t pique even a dumb nubbin’s interest right now.
The key ingredient in a successful ground-blind hunt right now is a doe decoy, heavily doused with that “pee perfume.”
Decoy placement is critical in creating a window for a clear shot. Deer will always—always—approach what appears to be a willing doe from downwind. Place the decoy where the glide path for an inbound buck will take him right past your bow.
I use one of Don Rich’s “doe-coy” deer decoys. This decoy is truly lifelike, with a real deer cape and lifelike eyes covering a life-size plastic shell.
The Doe-coy is placed no more than 20 yards upwind from the primary shooting lane in one of the ground blind’s windows. Just before entering the camo cocoon for what could be a very long sit, a circle of estrus scent is painted about 20 yards away from the ground blind from a spray can.
If sex-crazed bucks were the only whitetails in the woods, filling an antler tag would be easy.
Resident does are the biggest obstacle between your arrow and the buck of dreams. They know the funny-smelling deer that doesn’t move is a stranger in the neighborhood.
Jealous does will snort, stomp and sometimes even slap at the plastic and fur imposter, sometimes preventing Bullwinkle from making a fatal mistake.
But sometimes it all comes together. Realizing the dream begins with getting out there in the woods.
Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.