Late-Season Scent Tactics | Deer & Deer Hunting

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Video late season deer attractant

Late season is my favorite time to hunt whitetails. The foliage is off the trees so we can see farther, the frenzy of gun season has passed and we probably have some snow so deer are easy to see and track. The cons are whitetails have already been hunted for three months and bucks have been run ragged during breeding. This can make hunting them seem tough. However, during this time two things are for certain — whitetails become “slaves to their stomachs” and using scent in an area can fire-up the deer activity.

Food sources have become limited, which means finding the primary ones should be easy. Breeding activity can last into December and even January if not all the does are bred during the main rut in November. You should be able to tell just by the amount of sign you see and where it’s located. If breeding is finished, you should see much less erratic sign and there should be a clear pattern from bed to food and back to bed.

Fooling their sense of smell is one of the hunter’s main concerns. This consists of both keeping foreign odors out of the picture so as not to alert them to the fact they’re being hunted, but also using lures and scents to try and use their sense of smell to your advantage. I love to set up deer scents to try to lure in mature bucks, and late season is my favorite time to do it.

Which Smell?

Should a food lure, curiosity scent, rut-time smell or plain urine perform best? The type of scent you choose may influence how to set it up, and choosing the right lure will depend a great deal upon the “condition” of your herd. Is there still rut activity or have the begun their winter patterns?

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Examine the sign. If all of the does have not been bred, you’re probably better off using the same scent tactics you would normally deploy the first part of November. Breeding or competition scenarios may still work. Scents like Special Golden Estrus or Active-Scrape will support a breeding picture.

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Normally, however, breeding has finished by this time. In this case, you’re usually better off using “curiosity” or “hunger” to your advantage. Plain buck or doe urine may work, or food smells like acorn or apple may appeal to their need to feed. Curiosity smells can build confidence and plea to their curiosity, but two of my favorite late-season lures are Trail’s End #307 and Trapper John’s premium micro-brew scent. Trail’s End #307 appeals to hunger, curiosity and sex urges – how can you go wrong?

Delivery Methods

The same application methods work all season long, but late season we need to use some common sense. Tools like a Magnum Scrape-Dripper may freeze-up with consistent below zero temperatures, and in deep snow, scent trails are more difficult to create.

As long as your daytime highs rise into the 40s, Magnum Scrape-Drippers will still function perfectly. Where earlier in the season I would say you don’t want to hang the dripper in the sun because you might go through the contained scent too quickly, during late season it may be a good idea. The sun’s heat helps keep the dripper flowing during daytime hours.

Scent trails will still work, but they’re more difficult to create in deep snow. A Pro-Drag is a great tool for generating any kind of a scent trail. It’s constructed of a large piece of super-absorbent felt with two tails, all attached to a heavy-duty string. The two tails make it easy to dip into a bottle of scent so you can refresh it periodically. The string can be attached to a stick found at your site. This way you can drag the trail off of the path your feet are taking. This is a key in deep snow! A Pro-Drag creates a continuous, easy to follow trail.

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Quik-Wiks work anytime, but their design is especially effective during late season or bad weather. With its pop-out, retractable, felt wick inside a protective container with a screw-on seal, it can be filled with scent in the warmth of your camp then simply hung at your hunting site when you arrive. When you’re finished, the wick stores back inside the plastic case. It will shed rain or snow and is the perfect tool for using scent during late season.

A simple wick setup is the easiest scent setup that I know. Place out lure-soaked Key-Wicks crosswind from your position at your maximum confident shooting range. Maximum range is important because we want the smell to draw in the deer before they get directly downwind of you.

Late season I try to keep it simple and think about what a mature buck wants at that time of year. For a buck, it’s either going to be about breeding or filling their gut. Even if they are on a distinct feeding pattern, a little scent can stir things up. Keep human scent out of the picture by using Scent Killer Gold, use clean gloves and rubber-bottomed boots, use common sense and results will follow.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>