Follow the Nose: Using a Whitetail’s Nose to Its Disadvantage

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October 31, 2017
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While most hunters know that a whitetail deer’s nose is sensitive, many hunters who I have asked don’t know to what degree this sensitivity goes. Did you know that the nose of a whitetail deer has up to 297 million olfactory receptors? It’s true! In comparison, dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors but humans limit out with just five million. With this in mind, a hunter must approach scent control and lure scents, such as doe-in-estrus, from the basics to the sometimes complex.

The first thing to concern yourself with is your own scent control. This starts with taking a shower before you climb into the deer stand if it is practical and possible. Be sure to use fragrance-free soap or body wash and shampoo. The same goes with washing your hunting clothes in scent-free detergent and storing them in an air tight container. The next thing to do is use a cover scent and be sure to spray down your hair (and the inside of your hat), feet (and the inside of your boots) as these are the main areas we as humans emit the most odor. Many of these products can be found online at outdoor retailers or through manufactures such as Vapor Trail Scents. I started using Vapor Trail Scents this year and have been very impressed with all of the products I have ordered so far. If you don’t concentrate on your own scent control, there may be deer or other wildlife that you never see in the woods as they will get downwind of you and spook easily. A problem we have recently had with one of the ranches I work with is that hogs have not been seen by hunters pursuing them but once scent control was addressed, these hunters became remarkably more successful. Remember, wild hogs may have the best noses of any of the prey we hunt in the great outdoors. Respect this fact and you will see more wildlife.

The next thing to look at is food sources, such as corn, protein, or minerals. Using mineral blocks, rocks or granular minerals are great ways to lure in deer to your hunting area. I have used the Big & J BB2 granular formula for years with lots of success in both drawing deer in and keeping them coming back from more. You can use Deadly Dust in a number of ways and don’t forget about the Big & J Cube. If you watch some of the tech tip videos on Big & J’s website, you will see there are many ways to use it in the field in and around feeders and other areas.

On a recent episode of The Best of the Outdoors podcast, which I happen to host for Texas Fish & Game, I had a guest on that talked about why two doe estrus was superior to the more common one doe estrus. The theory behind this makes sense. If you walk into a restaurant and see a big guy with a very attractive woman, you usually will not approach them. Now, if there are TWO women there with that same big guy, the chance is there than you might leave with one of them that night! It may only be a chance but that opportunity is greater/ This same idea appeals to a whitetail buck’s nose. Another tip: I only like to use doe-in-estrus scent when it is colder versus when it is warm. The main reason is that the scent travels through the air better on colder days and big bucks pick up on this.

Now, that all being said, the outdoor industry is filled with cover scents and scent eliminating products and clothing, all claiming to be the best out there.  My litmus test is always in the effectiveness in the field. Personally I am not a fan of bathing myself with fox or skunk urine when I set out to the deer woods but I do think a good cover scent used with good scent eliminating hygiene is a good combination and having an attractor in the field, such as the Big & J line of products and you are assured better chances for success in the field. Follow that nose, have fun and be safe out there!

Story by Dustin Vaughn Warncke

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