Skip to main content Skip to main content

Common Sense About Using Deer Scent During Rut

Rut Crash Course: The No. 1 reason why scent is so important in deer hunting is whitetails live by their noses.

What makes deer-scent use so important to deer hunting through the rut?

Well, whitetail deer have approximately 300 million scent receptors in their noses (we have about 10 million), and they use scent to fight, flight, breed, lust and everything in between, says host Mark Kayser in the attached episode of Crash Course, "Smart Scent Strategies."

Deer also are curious animals and are always smelling other deer in the area.

Using scent (natural or synthetic) can be incredibly important for hunting mid-October through November (rut season) in the deer woods.

Here's what to know:

Doe Urine

Using doe urine works throughout the deer-hunting season, but it's particularly effective during the pre-rut and into the rut.

The scent gives a calming feeling to other does in the area, Kayser says in the video, and it gives info to bucks that there are does around.

Buck Lures

A buck lure is effective during the pre-rut because bucks are jacked up on testosterone and looking to confront other bucks. "They're running around their territory setting the pecking order and driving other intruders out of their territory," Kayser said. "So if they smell another buck, well, they're a little bit ticked off."


Estrus lures bucks in, and tells them there's a doe around and she's in heat. Combine with a tarsal gland scent, or go back to a buck lure, to tell a buck that there's some breeding going on.

As the rut wanes, estrus scent can attract bucks looking for one last hookup with a doe still in heat.

Application Systems


You can fill a dripper up with a buck lure or estrus doe scent and hang it over a mock scrape. They are designed to drip during the heat of the day and shut off at night. That tells a buck that does are coming to the scrape during shooting hours.


This system involves dipping a applicator in scent (estrus is great for this system) and dragging it at the end of a long string. You drag it along the trails you take to your stand. "Any deer that crosses that possibly could walk right to your stand," Kayser said. "And then when you get your stand you can just hang it up from a tree and let it continue to do its work."


A lot of hunters use big key wicks. Dip in scent, hang it five or six feet up a tree and let the breeze disperse the scent, and possibly draw in a buck.


"My favorite system is just a can of misting spray. Estrus is great. And when I get to my tree stand, especially with a bow, I like to just spray in my shooting lanes, a couple of little mists like that and let it settle on vegetation at nose level. And that way, when a deer comes down a trail, comes through a little opening, he could hit that stop and investigate it, giving me a shot."


Real vs. Synthetic

Some states in the U.S. have outlawed the use of real deer urine due to concerns over Chronic Wasting Disease. There are synthetic brands that are just as effective.

Video: Learn more about the use of scents for deer hunting in the video attached to this article.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Subscribe Now and Get a Full Year

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now