BY HAYWARD L. PUTNAM, Aegis correspondent
3:57 PM EDT, October 18, 2012
Whitetail deer depend on smell, sight and hearing for protection against predators. We as hunters try many ways to hide from the deer in order get them close enough for a shot. To overcome smell, we wash our clothes in scent hiding soaps. We use products to mask our natural scents. We wear camo clothing so that we can blend into the surrounding areas we hunt. Lastly, we use calls to deceive the deer into thinking another deer is in the area. Sometimes this works, other times it does not.
There are many different masking scents that can be used to hide human scent. The most popular are raccoon, fox and skunk. Of these three, I prefer to use raccoon because I hunt from a tree and I have never seen a red fox or a skunk up a tree. I don't like skunk because the only time a skunk sprays is when it is scared. I feel that this scent will alert the deer to danger.
Another masking scent is the products that have no scent and will neutralize ours. These can be sprayed on clothing before the hunt as they activate when in contact with your sweat. There is clothing that has the scent killer already in them. These work the same way by reacting to body odors as we walk in and become over heated.
Camo clothing come in many different designs and all work well. Every hunter of course has his or her own preference in camo. I like Mossy Oak because it has worked well, but I also use several different woodland and earth tone designs. Earth tones are shades of brown, black and green. Some are just blends of these colors while others will have leaf or tree limb patterns.
During the gun seasons, you must wear hunter orange. This orange clothing can also be found with camo patterns to help break up the solid bright color. All this is fine, but I have been dressed completely in hunter orange and had deer come within a few yards of my stand. No matter what clothing you wear, the trick is to stay still. It is movement that the deer see and then direct their full attention to you.
We overlooked the scents that attract deer. These can be food smells, or the smell of a doe in rut. The food smells vary from apples to acorns to things such as peanut butter. I find that apple works well, if there are apple trees near by, but not too well if not. Acorn scent is a good one to use in hardwoods, if there are oak trees near. Why peanut butter works is said that it is the filling for many hunters sandwiches, I guess that's right.
The smell of a doe in heat is good during the rut, but not so good at other times. There are other scents, such as just deer smells or rival buck scents, that can be used as attracters. Of course, for any of this to work you must be in an area that deer use to feed or bed.
Last, there are the calls as not many years ago man thought deer were mute. As bow hunting became more popular and hunters were placed closer to the deer, we learned they make many sounds. These range from grunts to bleats to the soft sounds of a fawn. They have different sounds for alert and others just to communicate. In order to make the right calls, we must know what to use and when. I recommend getting a good video on the subject and practice.
Horn rattling will work at times, but not always. Again, you must learn when to rattle and when to not rattle. Early in the season a soft ticking of horns as young bucks spar will sometimes get you a good shot. Later in the season, hard rattles of bucks fighting for the rights of a doe will sometimes work. Nothing is foolproof, you are dealing with a live animal and they do what they want. Work at your calls, learn more on cover scent and attracters and your success rate should increase.