Scent Strategies for the Different Rut Phases
The rut is the best time of year for us whitetail hunters. Bucks throw caution to the wind as they chase does through the woods. Scents can play a key role in being successful during the rut. Knowing when and how to use each type of scent for the different rut periods is very important.
During the early season deer movement is usually pretty predictable. Deer are still on their food to bed patterns. You wouldn’t want to use a rut scent like doe in heat during this time as it would just confuse the deer. A great choice for early season would be either a cover scent or a food based attractant like apple, sweetcorn, acorn.
The first stage of the “rut” would be the pre-rut phase. During the pre-rut phase bucks will starting breaking up from bachelor groups and will start becoming more territorial. You’ll see bucks making more scrapes and rubs marking their territory. Does aren’t in heat yet buck the bucks are starting to show some rutting activity.
A great way to use scents for bucks during this time is to challenge them to come in. Pre-rut is a great time to use buck urine scents like P7 Stud, Conquest Rutting Buck, Pure Whitetail Cash, or Rack Getter Dominant Buck. Using a buck urine along with a buck decoy is also a fantastic plan.
Here is a video of Larry McCoy with Respect the Game using the Wyndscent unit with a decoy. The scent along with the decoy gave the buck the confidence to commit and come right in.
During the seeking phase of the rut bucks will be trying to locate does. Most of the does will not be in full heat yet but the bucks will be on their feet more looking for does. Buck scents are effective during this time as well as normal non-estrus doe urine. To get the best of both worlds, the P7 Crossroads scent includes a buck urine, a doe urine, and a little flare of doe in heat.
Here is a video of Victor Guarisco with Crimson Trail talking through his Wyndscent strategy. He shows video of a buck coming right to the unit and putting his nose on it.
The chasing phase of the rut is the most exciting to hunt and is the most effective for doe in heat scents, decoys, and calls. Its in this phase that you’ll have the highest chance of luring in rut crazed bucks. Now is the time to bring out those doe in heat scents. Wyndscent offers lots of different doe in heat scents from multiple brands. Using a doe decoy along with a doe in heat scent is a great tactic during this time.
Scents not only lure in bucks during this time that aren’t on the tail of a doe but they also help stop a buck in your area if they are actively chasing a doe. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a doe come in really quickly in range of my stand. I get all set and ready to go. Then I see the buck sprint in, but he runs in and out of range too fast to get a shot off. Having something that catches that bucks nose and causes him to stop is great. We’ve seen that exact thing happen running Wyndscent. We had a buck come in chase a doe. He caught wind of the Wyndscent unit, and it caused him to stop and sniff it for a bit before he got back to chasing that doe. Its wasn’t quite a buck we wanted to harvest but none the less it was a really cool encounter.
Here is a video of that encounter.
The Lockdown phase of the rut can be tricky to hunt. Bucks during this time will often stay close to their bedding. It can be hard to pull away a buck during this phase but it can happen. Doe in heat scents can be effective during this time along with buck scents.
As you start getting into the post-rut and second rut phase, not as many does will be in heat but a few will. Using doe estrus may yield some result but not as good as it did in the prior parts of the rut. As bucks start to get worn out from chasing does and as it gets colder, bucks will start to get back to their food to bed pattern. That is a great time to switch back to those food based attractants or to cover scents.
Cover Scent Strategy
Using cover scents is effective during the rut. I love morning hunts in the woods during peak rut. I’ve been covered up in does on those hunts and knowing that a buck may come cruising in anytime is fun. During the rut does are often more cautious than the bucks and keeping them calm will be key to getting a shot off on a buck. Using cover scents can really help with masking human scent. I always hunt the wind, but deer will still go downwind. I’ve had lots of times where I’ve had deer go down wind of me running a cover scent and the deer haven’t been bothered.
Levi Morgan is a huge fan of running cover scents to keep the deer calm. We’ve partnered up with Levi to offer a couple of super effective cover scents called “Chill” and “Chill Hardwoods.” Chill can be used anywhere and Chill Hardwoods is specifically designed for the woods.
Watch Levi explain his cover scent strategy below.