The rut is a wild time of year! Follow these three tips to capitalize on this window of opportunity.

1. Adopt an insane scent-reduction approach.

Scent-reducing products are not magical. They simply provide the hunter with one more tool for outsmarting a deer. Reducing human odor is the No. 1 key to any successful hunt. That’s why a serious scent-elimination plan is usually the difference between goodness and greatness. It’s even more important when hunting mature bucks.

You can improve your odds with a simple but rigid program. Shower with scent-reducing soap/shampoo before every hunt. Dress in nonhunting clothes (usually a long-sleeve T-shirt and sweatpants) and pull on a pair of spare rubber boots to use just for driving. You can even go so far as to place a clean bed sheet on the seat of your car as the leather seat is a sure trap for foreign odors. Keep your hunting clothes and boots sealed in a scent-proof bag until you’re at your hunting area. Park by some evergreens or a thick fence line and use them as your “dressing room.” This approach might sound over the top, but you will seldom be winded by deer while hunting.

2. Make and maintain mock scrapes.

Licking branches are crucial to mock scrapes because they serve as a communication hub for every deer in the area. In the absence of real licking branches, hunters can literally take matters into their own hands and create whitetail hotspots. Merely find a well-used trail or crossing and break a stout branch so it hangs at chest level. Or, better yet, saw off a branch and use wire or a plastic cinch tie to anchor it to another low-hanging branch. This tactic can be taken one step further by doctoring the scrape with a scent dripper and premium scent. This will keep deer coming back and freshening it throughout hunting season.

3. Stop them in their tracks.

Stop deer in your shooting lane, and you might get a shot. Grunting a deer to a stop is often effective. The downside is that it puts deer on edge and focuses attention on the hunter. The odds of spooking the deer and them “ducking the arrow” increase.

Scent can stop a buck as effectively as a grunt while directing his attention away from the stand. Those who hunt the wind have the wind blowing from the deer toward the stand. That allows you to either hang a scent wick or dribble a little on the ground, just on the opposite side of the trail. With the trail less than a foot downwind of the scent, the deer will smell it.

Do this where the trail and shooting lane merge, and you’re likely to stop Mr. Big in the perfect spot and focus his attention away from the stand.

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