Buck Stink: One November morning I shot a 10-pointer, walked up, took a step back and said, “Man, you stink!” The buck’s hind legs and hocks were black and wet from rub-urinating in scrapes. I held my breath and started gutting.
Leaves popped. I looked up and saw another 10-pointer bearing down on me, rack poised for battle and the hair bristling on his neck.
I crouched behind the dead buck. A rut-crazed animal like that is unpredictable and potentially dangerous, and I figured staying put was my best bet. The intruder marched within 10 yards, grunting and giving me the sideways evil eye. When my deer didn’t pose a threat, the bad buck whirled and trotted off.
Ever since that day, I set a brew of buck urine and tarsal near my stands during the first 10 days of November and just before the bucks start chasing. Sometimes I make scent-posts in the dirt, other times I hang wicks juiced with buck pee. It depends on the terrain and wind direction where I’m hunting. This stuff is strong, and it can pull in a dominant buck on the prowl. Keep in mind, though, that tarsal can and will scare off young bucks.
Scent Trail: Park your truck and sneak off down through the woods. When you’re 150 yards or so from where you plan to hunt, tie a drag rag to your boot, soak it with hot-doe lure and walk the rest of the way in. I recommend Special Golden Estrus, the official doe scent of Big Deer.
Make a couple of big sweeps around your stand. A buck that comes from any direction might cut the scent and circle in to see what’s up. Take off the rag, hang it on a limb 6 feet off the ground and re-juice it with fresh doe pee.
A hot-doe trail can work anytime during the rut, but don’t give up on it too early. Here’s a little secret—it can sometimes work better during the first 10 days of the post-rut in late November or early December. There are fewer hot does left to breed, but the bucks are still on the prowl for some action. One of those randy boys might cut your trail and sniff his way right to your stand.
Scrape strategy: Look for an active scrape deep in the woods and on the edge of a thicket where old bucks love to travel. Hide a portable stand in a nearby tree—30 yards away if archery hunting, and 75 to 100 yards out if hunting with a muzzleloader or rifle. Then go to work on the scrape just before dark.
One afternoon around 4:30, juice the scrape with tarsal scent. Spread a little hot-doe around while you’re at it. A dominant buck might come along later that night, smell the scent, rip up the scrape and rub-urinate in it. Go back the next afternoon at 4:30, and doctor the scrape again. The buck might return that night and rip it once more. Keep this up for several days, juicing the scrape about the same time every afternoon.
Pretty soon the buck might want to see or encounter the intruder he thinks is putting down all that rank scent. So he might march in and check the scrape earlier one night, while there is still some shooting light left. You might finally get a crack at him from that stand you set close by. Watch our video on scrapes.