Deer Hunting, the Rut, Common Scents

Doe-In-Estrus scent is the “hot scent” during the annual Whitetail Deer rut cycle.

-Super Moon Last Night: Rut Happens in 6-10 days

-Use an Effective Scent 

-Keep a Grunt Call and Bleat Call Handy

Doe-In-Estrus scent is the “hot scent” during the annual Whitetail Deer rut cycle.
Doe-In-Estrus scent is the “hot scent” during the annual Whitetail Deer rut cycle.

By Forrest Fisher

All year long, hunters talk with each other about their great experiences in the woods, especially with observing whitetail deer. During the peak of the rut, observing deer is the most fun, as deer ignore almost everything else except the opposite sex.

Bucks will fight each other for does that have come into estrus, bucks will follow does step-for-step all day long, bucks will usually ignore anything else going on in the woods – or on the roadways – at this time.

For hunters, some of the best outdoor experiences occur during the rutting period, the hot deer hunting time that is set to begin this week in the northeast, or about a week after the super-moon that occurred last night (11/13/2016).

The bucks have been ready to mate for several weeks, but biologists tell us that the majority of female deer (does) are usually not ready to mate until 6 to 10 days after the full moon in November.  That puts prime time rutting activity to begin this coming weekend and it should last for about a two weeks.  Get ready for action!!

Hunters can help themselves at this time by using attraction scents, since deer have a very keen sense of smell.  If you’re new to the scent for deer world, note that deer can detect human presence very easily too.  That is one reason why it is not a good idea to use scented fragrance soap for your morning shower on the days you go hunting.  Use scent-free soap, there are plenty of brands in the outdoor stores.

To enhance the potential for attracting deer to your stand location, add a scent bottle placed at eye level to a tree near your stand.  There are various scent wick dispersant containers on the market, whatever type you choose, fill it with a scent that is likely to attract a lovesick buck.  For this next week or so, that “hot” scent will be “Doe-In-Heat” or “Doe-In-Estrus” fragrance.  There are dozens of manufacturers, I have used Kishel’s, Tink’s 69, Code Blue and many others.  Kishel’s works well for me (

Ideally, your pre-season scouting trips should have helped you locate a ground scrape where mister big buck is announcing his daily presence to a following harem of does.  If your stand is nearby, the scent wick container should be in a position that will allow wind drift to spread the desired smell over the area.  That will convince any passing bucks also checking the scrape that a hot doe is nearby and your hunting adventure could be about to begin.

Many hunters also drag a scent rag for their trips into and out of the woods, and right across an active deer trail.  This is a very simple piece of braided string about six-feet long with a small rag tied to one end and flavored with – you guessed it – “Doe-in-Heat” scent.  The other end is looped around your boot.

The Quaker Boy Brawler Call offers big buck or small buck call tones and is durable. Quaker Boy Photo
The Quaker Boy Brawler Call offers big buck or small buck call tones and is durable. Quaker Boy Photo

If you are in a tree stand, you will be able to see much more than from a ground location.  Use care if you are well above the forest floor.  I have watched deer with their nose to the ground walk right to my tree stand and never look up, thanks to the drag rag.  It’s not always that easy, but it has happened exactly that way more than once.  A drag rag adds to good hunting strategy, but don’t apply too much scent.  Just lightly wet the rag.   When you reach your stand, remove the rag 20 feet from your stand and hang it in a small tree or bush.

The doe-in-heat scent will help attract bucks that are in a search for a hot doe.  It is a great experience to see.  When you see the big guy and it appears he will not come your way by his own nature, use a grunt call and bleat call to lure him closer to your position.  I like the Quaker Boy Brawler call ( first, it has a deep tone and is adjustable, wait 3-4 seconds and then flip over the Quaker Boy Bleat.

Remain as motionless as possible.  Big bucks seem to notice everything, even hunters in trees.  Use a face cover, as many hunters agree it is the hunters face with blinking eyes and breathe vapor trail on cold mornings that can spook a buck.

When all the sounds and scents worked for you in the manner intended, that’s where a well placed stand and good shooter accuracy now comes in handy.  As that big buck enters your range, your heart may seem to beat like a drum and if you didn’t know better, you might think the deer can hear it.  If possible, talk yourself into a state of calm, it is easier to shoot more accurately that way.  Experience helps with this, but even veteran hunters have to wrestle with their emotions, the shakes and cold sweats too, when a big buck approaches.  Especially during archery season.

The rest of the adventure and the storytelling that will remain in your mind for all time begins at that moment.

Get out there this season and enjoy our free America and the great outdoors we support with our hunting license fees.  Effective wildlife conservation in the outdoors begins with hunting.  Thanks for understanding that and for continuing to be an effective member of the hunter participation audience.

Remember, not everybody can be a hunter!