As the Missouri archery season rolled in to mid October, my excitement level was that of a roller coaster, going from high to low. During the late summer and continuing into the first of October, I had captured several bucks on my game camera. It seemed that the majority of the buck pictures were occurring in daylight hours, so I began to sit in a stand that I had placed in between two good food sources and a thick bedding area, thus being a perfect location to catch deer moving from one spot to another. I had no luck seeing a mature buck, but I knew that at least a few of the bucks that I had witnessed on my camera earlier in the season had to still be in the area. The struggle was to now get them back on their feet and moving into my direction.

One of my favorite hunting tactics during mid October and the pre-rut is that of using scents and lures. One tactic I am particularly fond of is that of putting scent on an actual scrape. Using this tactic seems to result in a higher number of mature bucks checking in more often, as well as attracting a few random bucks that may be in the area. This past fall, when the buck activity started to slow down a bit, I began using this same scent tactic. I had found two or three scrapes close by my stand location, so I elected to use the Wildlife Research Center’s Hot Scrape Scent Dripper Combo. This kit comes with a bottle of Hot Scrape scent, which I used by pouring directly onto the dirt of the scrapes. I followed the pouring of the scent by constructing a couple of mock scrapes in the same area in which I also poured scent on to the ground, I also hung the scent dripper filled with Hot Scrape on a licking branch overhanging the scrape. After placing a few different scent stations, I finished by hanging a Stealth Cam facing the scrape so that I could see the different bucks that would visit the scent as well as how often they stopped by.

It wasn’t long until I had 2 or 3 mature bucks coming to visit. One of the bucks was a mature buck that was busted up one side. This particular buck showed up on the camera multiple times checking the mock scrapes, and as November arrived, I began getting pictures of the same deer, however, this time he wasn’t as interested in the scent as he was in actual does that I captured him chasing on multiple pictures.

On November 11th, 2017 which was opening day of Missouri firearms season, I climbed into the stand for an evening hunt around 2:00 p.m., before climbing into the stand, I sprayed the area around my stand location with WRC Doe In Estrus that comes in a pistol grip type spray bottle. That evening around 3:15 p.m. a few does began filtering into the area around my stand. Each one that came into sight had me anxiously looking behind them in hopes of a buck chasing. The rut in southern Missouri was in full swing at this time and I knew it could happen at any moment.

Sure enough around 4:30 p.m. I watched as a doe came easing down a fence line that was approximately 80 yards to the right of my stand. As she neared the bottom of the hill, I spotted the busted up mature buck that I had on my camera, trotting down the hill with his nose pointed in the air. To my surprise, the buck turned and began heading my direction. I had already made up my mind earlier in the day that if I came close to this particular buck, I wasn’t going to pass him by. I knew he was broke on one side, however, he was still a mature deer.  As the buck walked toward my direction, I began to raise my gun slowly. The buck ventured to the area in which I had sprayed the doe in estrus earlier. I was able to make a successful shot at just over 20 yards, he ran a mere few steps before crashing under the tree that I was in. Another harvest resulting from the usage of scents, proving once again that they work.

By using scent during the pre-rut, I was able to attract bucks into an area, holding them with curiosity until the rut began to peak. Once the rut peaked, switching to a doe in estrus scent in mid November, allowed for me to pull a buck off of a doe, one that he was literally following behind when I first encountered him. The scent caused him to lose interest in her, only to peak his curiosity in hopes of finding where the estrus doe that he had smelled had gone. I truly give credit to both scent tactics that I used last fall during my Missouri deer season, there is no other explanation a to how I was able to harvest this mature southern Missouri buck. Once again the roller coaster of emotions that I was on from hunting this time of year was at an all time high, thanks to the usage of scents.

Heath Wood has been published in many major hunting magazines, websites, and blogs for over the last 15 years. His favorite topics include deer, turkey, and predator hunting. Wood has also appeared on Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World TV, Hunters Specialties' The Stuff of Legends and the popular DVD series Cuttin' and Struttin', as well as the NWTF's Turkey Call TV. Heath enjoys helping introduce newcomers to hunting.

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