For years hunters have been trying to lure bucks in by fooling them with scents and lures. If you go to your local sporting goods store over 80 percent of the hunting products have something to do with tricking a deer's nose, including scent elimination products, scents, and scent applicators. You obviously can see a deer's nose is the most important factor when it comes to hunting. Like most great products, trial and error and many hours of experimenting has led to top-of-the-line items now on the market, as well as in the field tactics that work.
For years hunters have been using scents on their boots, around their stand, on scent wicks, and one of my favorites—a scent drag. However, are they doing it the right way? Cedar Rapids, Iowa native and long-time Hunter's Specialties pro staff member Rick White has been fooling big buck noses all over the United States for many years. He has obviously learned a few things when it comes to using scents and lures. I recently asked White to share some of the tips that he has learned while out in the field. Since using a scent drag is one of my personal favorite tactics, I compiled a few questions on the do's and don'ts when using this specific scent tactic.
For the beginning hunter, a scent drag, also known as a trail drag or drag rag, is usually made up of a piece of cloth or fabric to apply scent on. It's attached to approximately a 4-foot long string to be able to pull behind you, making a trail of scent that a buck will follow, similar to what a dog will do. There are many options out there. Now what about when to use a scent drag, what scents to put on a scent drag, and where to drag it? I took these questions to Mr. White.
Q- When do you use a scent drag?
A- "You can use a scent drag all season long depending on what type of scent you are using. A scent like Hunter's Specialties new 180 Day Estrus, which is a blend of whitetail doe estrus collected at peak cycles blended with other key ingredients, can be used from September to December, or use just a plain Natural Doe Urine. But, I prefer using a scent drag starting those last two weeks of October into the month of November, during those pre-rut, rut stages," says White.
Q- What scents or smells do you use on scent drags?
A- "Like before, early season I use a Natural Doe Urine or 180 Day Estrus. During pre-rut and rut I use Premium Doe Estrus or another new scent from H.S. called 2 Hot Does. This is a collection of premium whitetail doe estrus collected at peak cycle from two separate does. The smell of two estrus does more closely mimics nature and will keep bucks coming back to the area again and again. Licking of this scent will actually trigger a buck's territorial behavior and they will be more active during daylight hours, which is what us hunters want. I usually use a product called a Retract-A-Drag, which is a scent drag that reels up into a tube with a cap to seal off until the next use without losing all your scent. I hang the drag in a tree where I have a good shot from my stand, or sometimes I will drag my scent drag to a certain limb then hang a scent wick, which I will then apply the 2 Hot Does or will apply a Dominant Buck Urine in a mock scrape," says White.
Q- How important is scent elimination when using a scent drag?
A- "Scent elimination is the number one thing when it comes to deer hunting, no matter if you're using scents or not. I always use a strict scent elimination regime which consists of washing my hunting clothes in Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent, storing in a Scent-Safe bag, showering with Scent-A-Way soaps and shampoos, then applying Scent-A-Way Max on myself as well all my hunting gear when I get to the field. I prefer a good pair of Lacrosse rubber boots which are easy to keep scent free. But, no matter if you're using rubber or a pair of leather boots they should always be clean and scent free, meaning cleaned with Scent-A-Way soap, sprayed with Scent-A-Way Max, then stored in a Scent-Safe Bag. Never wear the boots you're going to be hunting with in the truck. There is a ton of odors embedded into the floor of your carpet that will get on your boots. So, yes scent elimination is VERY important," says White.
Q- What are some tricks you have learned over the years when using a scent drag?
A- "Well, a lot of hunters drag a scent drag from the truck to their stand. Why is this wrong? If you drag a scent drag to the the stand it loses its strength of smell the closer you get to your stand, which will make a buck lose interest and get off the trail. I prefer dragging from my stand out away from my stand, so that it builds strength the closer it gets to my stand. If you do drag to the stand, stop and refresh the scent every so often to keep it strong. Next, I recommend rubber gloves or a separate pair of gloves while applying scents. This keeps your hands from smelling, as well keeping scent off of clothes that will be used hunt after hunt. The other thing I have learned is the storing of my scent drag in between hunts. I have had so many pair of pants that the pocket smells like deer scent from bottles coming open or rubbing off from the scent drag itself. I recommend putting it in a Zip Loc bag or some type of scent safe bag when storing," says White.
Using scents and lures can be a fun and exciting method of hunting when used properly. Even watching a smaller buck or doe come into your scent set-up and seeing their reaction as the curiosity builds is an adrenaline-filled style of hunting. By paying attention to scent elimination and using these tips and tactics with scent drags you will have more success in taking that monster buck of your dreams.