There has been a ton of material written about the use of breeding scents during the rut to help fill an unused tag. Some of those stories get so into telling a story about a successful hunt that they forget to give details on how to maximize the use of those scents and some important details perhaps as to why that hunt was successful, to begin with.
To really maximize your scents you need a few key important ingredients.
1. One is knowledge of prevailing wind currents for that exact location at that particular time of year on that given day.
2. Next is the knowledge of where you expect deer to be and which direction you expect them to come from; and lastly, what stage of the rut is currently being played through.
Many hunters I talk to go hunting during the various rut periods with the aid of some estrous urine put out near their stand no matter where they are and hope the magic potion works its wonders and a large racked buck will appear out of the forest and come right to them for an ideal shot. Nothing could be done more haphazardly than that. To be consistently successful at using these scents you must put all the factors mentioned above together as well as some others that I will mention later.
When I am at a stand location, I obviously want to be in an area where I expect deer to come from. I often have had my best success at using stationary scent locations (placing the scent only near your stand) during midday and evening while my best morning success comes from the use of “mobile” scents (making a scent drag into your stand location).
If hunting near a bedding area (which I often opt to do, contrary to popular belief) I would rather the wind currents to be blowing into the bedding area instead of away from it. The reason why is this: if a large buck had already made it back to his sanctuary under the cover of darkness, I now have the opportunity to get his attention, get him back on his feet and bring him back out into the open for a shot.
Another great aspect of this is if he already came through that area to enter his bedding area, he will be a little less leery as he has already “secured” the area so to speak. You can apply your scent at two locations at this point. One is upwind of your position so it blows across you and into the bedding area. You place it upwind so you can help hide your odor and to take advantage of his need to circle the scent and hopefully he will be in position.
Ideally, I like to position myself in a crosswind position of the scent at a right angle to the bedding area. What I will do is place the scent canisters about 15-20 yards past me, away from the bedding area and about 12-20 yards on either side of the stand-location. This way I can have the scent stream blowing into the bedding area and the deer follow the scent stream directly to it, passing by my stand and offering me a shot as he goes by.
A major key ingredient to hunting near any bedding area whether you’re using breeding scents or not is to have you stand placed high enough to keep your scent above the deer’s nose and to be as scent-free as possible. Proper hygiene before and during the hunt is critical and with the advent of scent control products and clothing, it is possible to achieve a much closer ability to be as scent-free as never before.
Currently, my scent control program involves the use of scent killer products for before and during the hunt, washing my scent-loc clothing in silver-containing products like Silver XP by XTreme Scents, using two layers of scent control fabrics, a base layer, and an outer layer.
You must also have knowledge of when you expect deer to be in their bedding, feeding, transition areas and areas in between. By knowing this you will be able to determine which routes are best to get in and out of your stand, which ones are best suited for scent drags and which ones are most suitable for a morning or evening hunt. It is important to know all this information so you don’t inadvertently spook deer in the area that may have responded to your breeding scent setup. The knowledge of all these facts will help determine which routes are best suitable for you to stand entry and exit as well as the appropriate times of day to do so.
When using a drag I opt to use a 3’ long stick with a 4’ rope tied to it with a scent-free rag on the end.
I will then doctor the rag with my favorite estrous urine which is Code Blue at the moment and drag it alongside as I walk to my stand. This is a little extra insurance that a deer won’t catch wind of my scent.
I also make sure that I don’t go without the use of rubber boots and gloves.
I also avoid coming into contact with any brush or limbs that could possibly connect with a trailing deer.
When hanging scent out, always avoid dumping the scent out on the ground. I prefer to use the “Scent Bomb” containers that have built-in wicks and hangers for hanging them from a limb. When I am done hunting, the scent rag gets put in a zip lock bag or the “Scent Bomb” bottle gets closed back up. I never leave the scent in the field when I leave for the simple reason I don’t want scent spoiling in the area that I hunt and I don’t want deer visiting the scent when I am not there.