You’ll notice that “deer” came before “deer lures” in the title of this article. That’s because, as a hunter, you must first understand deer before you can successfully use products such as deer lures, grunt calls and rattling antlers.
One thing you must realize is that deer are a lot like humans. They all have different personalities and unique habits. Some are aggressive and like to fight, some just like to watch the fight, and some are just lovers. Other, more predictable factors to consider that will affect your success with the aforementioned tools are: the buck-to-doe ratio in your deer herd; the age structure of your deer herd; weather conditions; and perhaps the most important factor: hunting pressure.
Before worrying about the execution of your hunting strategy—including use of deer lures—you should first evaluate your hunting area. Does the area where I’m hunting have very few deer or lots of deer? Does the area produce record-book antlers or just smaller basket racks? After you’ve done your homework, the next thing to do is to set a goal of what class of animal you’re trying to kill.
As a young hunter growing up in Pennsylvania, I read magazine articles and saw pictures of big bucks. I wanted to shoot a Pope & Young Club buck. Well, it took me a number of frustrating years to figure out there were no P&Ys in the area where I was hunting. Dad and I decided to take a trip to hunt in Ohio and we both shot P&Ys. My point is you need to be realistic about your expectations of what you might be able to kill. Don’t expect to kill a monster buck by using deer lures if that animal doesn’t exist where you’re hunting.
It’s unfortunate, but one of the best natural tools you can use as a deer hunter can also be your worst enemy: the wind. The purpose of this article isn’t to discuss odor control, but I will say there are several products out there designed to reduce human odor. Nothing totally eliminates human odor, but you can reduce it—and by doing so, your use of deer lures will be more effective.
When using deer lures or just hunting in general, there is one concept you should never forget: A deer has to eat and sleep. If you figure out where they’re eating and sleeping, you can kill them.
PRE-SEASON DEER LURES
Pre-season lures such as mock-scrape starters, combined with the use of trail cameras, are great to get an early look at the bucks in your area. Products such as Tink’s Power Scrape allow a hunter to make a mock scrape to hold deer in a particular area.
Choosing an effective mock-scrape location is essential. The best locations include old logging roads or trails, creek crossings, field edges, and between bedding and feeding areas.
EARLY-SEASON DEER LURES
Early-season lures include buck urine, doe urine, mineral attractants, scrape products and food lures or sprays such as Tink’s Hot Shot Persimmon Mist. In most regions, the early season means bow season. As a bowhunter, I like to refer to these deer lures as “deer stoppers.”
I hunt near food sources during this time of year, and where there’s feed there are trails. The tip here is to place a lure/scent just off a trail so deer will stop for a good shot opportunity. You must figure out what direction the deer are traveling—trail cameras are a great help for this. Place the lure at a point on the trail where deer will be positioned in a shooting lane when they stop to investigate the lure.
PRE-RUT DEER LURES
The pre-rut is one of the very best times to use a deer lure. Bucks are close to or at the peak of breeding season. Lures such as Tink’s #69 or doe estrous lures are best. Use boot pads, scent bombs, draggers and mist sprays. You want to put out a lot of lure for a couple of reasons: If a buck is chasing a doe, you need to stop him; if he’s out cruising for a doe, he’s using his nose to find a doe in heat. If he crosses a scent trail, he will follow it to your stand. Some hunters are also starting to actively spray lure into the air when a buck is downwind. If you’re lucky, the scent mist will drift down and help to cover your human scent. I’ve tried this technique, and I’ve seen a buck turn and follow the lure to my location.
LATE-SEASON DEER LURES
The late season can be the most challenging time of year to hunt. If you’re hunting in an area that has seen a lot of human pressure, many deer will only travel at night, and those that travel during daylight hours will be extremely skittish. But almost all deer are tired and hungry from the rut, so they need to eat and restore their energy. This makes food plots, clearcuts or other food sources perfect for stand locations. Now is when food attractants typically work best.
Terry Rohm’s intimate understanding of wild game animals stems from his childhood, where he began hunting squirrels on his family farm in the hills of Pennsylvania. It didn’t take long for him to begin chasing more challenging species—including the white-tailed deer. His passion for hunting has led to a successful career in the shooting sports industry, including his current position as marketing director and hunting advisor at Tink’s. Since his humble beginnings, Rohm has hunted in more than 16 states and several Canadian provinces.