Tips and Usage
How To Deploy Fresh Scents:
Although everyone has their own way of doing things, the following are recommendations made by John Swank as a result of many years of the observation, trial and error, and application of the knowledge gathered throughout the processes of raising, breeding, watching, tracking and hunting whitetail deer both on his farm in captivity as well as in the wild. It is our hope that this information will enhance your sporting experience. While not all of the information that John has provided is contained in this condensed version, we are happy to announce that this season we are offering for sale John’s comprehensive book, “Deer Scents 101 by John Swank”. This book will provide you with an in-depth look at the characteristics, natural actions, physiology and life of the whitetail deer as well as break down how and why the scents offered by Stonycreek Whitetails, LLC are so effective and aid so many sportsmen in their quest for their trophy buck.
As many or you already know, hunting seasons actually start will before your home state has listed on its calendar. We recommend that you start by watching for bachelor groups of buck during the summer months. If you happen to be out hunting groundhogs or what your case may be so stay aware and take notice to their patterns the deer begin to display such as where they enter the fields in the evening to feed. Once you set your sights on a nice buck that you’d like to hunt, start patterning his feeding habits and the times he is entering the fields. You’d be surprised at how consistent a buck is in his feeding patterns going in to the fall months. You can practically set your watch to their timing. Today, patterns can be even more closely monitored by the growing use of trail cameras.
Pennsylvania archery season usually starts around the first of October. From past experience it is at this time that the older dominant bucks will be the first to leave the group and the smaller, submissive bucks will stay grouped. It is now that the hunting transitions to being based solely on the food patterns that the buck has been exercising all summer. By watching the buck during the summer, you should get a good idea of which trails he normally uses to enter the field and hence a good idea of where you need to set up. This is generally 75-100 yards from the edge of the field. On every walk or trip to the feeding area, scout for scrapes whether entering or exiting the woods.
Take in to consideration that the dominant buck will actually move to areas where there is a good group of doe, so make sure to watch for the doe as well during the summer/fall. Once an area having several scrapes in close proximity is found, you have found your prime spot to set up. John found that setting up about 2 hours before daylight was effective in helping him to gain valuable information such as the buck walking in as well as possibly working a scrape or making a rub hence giving him an idea of the direction from which the buck is approaching. This information lets you know where you need to focus on placing a scrape. Keep in mind; a buck usually hits his scrapes about 1/2 hour before daylight and a half hour after dark.
Now that you have an idea of which direction the buck approaches his scrape, wait it out until around 11:00 a.m. and then make a mock scrape, then leave the area alone until the next morning at which time you simply climb up in your tree stand, sit, and wait, hoping to catch the buck a little after sun-up still working the area over. Most of the time the buck will move through the area under the cover of darkness but this will work some of the time. Once the sun comes up you will usually get a good look at the area and start to notice fresh rubs and scrapes everywhere. This is the ultimate goal you’ve set out to achieve, creating an area of interest for the bucks to frequent.
After that it is just a matter of keeping the bucks interested by making scent trails and keeping your mock scrape active. On occasion, throw in another mock scrape or two and even make a few rubs to make it more appealing, challenging the buck even more. Keep in mind, you are scenting the areas and making the scrapes during midday!
Keep this pattern up until the end of October at which time you will “bring a doe into the picture” by dumping doe urine (MaximumDraw™) into the mock scrape as well as using it in addition to buck urine (BuckDraw™) to make scent trails. What you have been doing with the buck urine is challenging the other buck on his will to claim his territory. By adding the doe urine in you are sending that buck a message that “his” doe is choosing you over him. Always start a scrape with buck urine (BuckDraw™) and work it a week or so only with buck urine BEFORE bringing in the doe urine (MaximumDraw™). If you are unable to get the buck to show himself during the day with the MaximumDraw™, and you notice a little chase starting up, strongly consider bringing in the TotalDraw™ or “doe in heat” and dump it in, or close to the mock scrape and pull the scent trails. Once doe urine is added to a scrape it is the thought that it becomes a breeding scrape. (Please see the scrape setup illustrations that follow).
According to our experience in using this setup, providing a shot presents itself, we have been successful tagging out by the end of October even before breeding activity really kicks in!
Bucks tend to be territorial, marking their boundaries with the early-season scrapes. As they begin the process of breaking off from the bachelor group and begin to add their urine to the scrape, they essentially are signaling that this is their territory. Keep in mind that a bucks territory is surrounded on all sides by other bucks that are also claiming their territories and sometimes these areas do overlap. Areas holding multiple scrapes and rubs are most likely a sign of an area that is being battled over by the neighboring bucks. In a sense, the bucks are pushing each other around in a battle for the real estate and the doe it holds. Trail cameras have caught these scuffs in progress!
In addition to looking for scrapes, or a scrape line as many refer to it as, are rubs that are in close proximity to these scrapes. In John’s experience, he feels that bucks of every age, including first year buck fawns, will make rubs. Rubs that are along feeding trails and are in areas that one might consider a staging area are usually of the least concern. You are after the dominant buck and a buck of any age or social standing will make rubs. However, when a rub is in close proximity to a scrape, it is most likely a warning rub put there as a message that the dominant buck in the area is willing to fight to keep “his” area.
When are area is located that has several scrapes with rubs in close proximity this shows that this area is of interest to several buck who are working to establish which one the dominant buck will be. This is a great place to use mock scrapes and from past experience, the place where you should find that your mock scrapes will be the most productive.
According to our experienced staff, mock scrapes, or “man-made” scrapes, should usually be made within 20-50 yards of the natural scrape, taking the rubs into consideration. In deciding where to make your mock scrape, look for a location that has an overhanging branch that is about 48-60 inches above the ground. When dumping the buck urine (BuckDraw™) into the scrape be sure to dump it on the overhanging branch so that the urine is falling into the scrape. Then use the Trail Drag System to run scent trails about 80-100 yards in each direction.
What we have found to be effective is hunting this location 3 days on and 3 days off, refreshing the scrape and pulling scent trails around the times of 10:30-11:00 am each time while hunting. After about 2 days of working this mock scrape, there will usually be “other” scrapes made along with many new rubs in the area. This is what you are looking for. You’ve now got the buck’s attention!
Keep “pushing” the buck around with mock scrapes and throw in a few mock rubs on occasion, spraying them with buck urine (BuckDraw™). By now you should have the dominant buck pretty worked up making this the perfect time to add a “doe” into the picture. By placing doe urine (MaximiumDraw™) in the mock scrapes and using both buck and doe urine to make scent trails, you have just simulated a buck trailing a doe.
This setup has been proven by many to be very successful. For the previous owner, John, in working his areas this way he was successful at taking 2 bucks that had made the Pennsylvania record books and was able to hold a 12-point that was in the 130-135” range in a 20-30 acre piece of woods throughout archery season. He had him within bow range on 3 different occasions but due to poor conditions, was unable to get a clean shot at him.
Mock scrapes work, but the biggest challenge is getting the buck to hit them through the day. Mid-day has seemed to be the best time to dress the scrapes. The buck usually ventures out sometime through the day to check the area. If you are like most hunters out there today, your trail camera is a good indicator of a bucks timing patterns. They also help you out in the time-management area if you are strapped for time and just don’t have the time to spend in your tree stand pre-season watching the deer and their patterns. Whatever resources you have, be it time to spend in the woods, or trail camera, or cameras, there really is no magic 1-day set up, however, using the information provided combined with your resources and patience it is our hope to help you to increase your chances at tagging out and even better, doing it with your trophy buck and a great story to share with your family and friends!
Here are illustrations of the setup that has worked in the past:
Best of luck! Give the mock scrapes a try; you may just be surprised at how you are the one to Become the Hunted™
To read more on the why and how scents work, follow the link to our detailed book written by John Swank titled “Deer Scents 101 with John Swank”.
Deer Urine, How fresh is it?
Fresh deer urine, when collected and used as a tool, will produce results, period!! Look at deer urine as an animal by-product just as the milk you pour in your coffee each morning or dump on your bowl of favorite cereal. You would not think of going into a store and buying a gallon of milk that has been sitting on the store shelf for months and years on end at room temperature? Heck no you wouldn't.... So why would you buy urine (another animal by-product) that has been sitting on the shelves at room temp for months or years? I don't know why either, but millions of dollars are spent each year on old stale deer urines.
The Shelf Life of Fresh Urine
We conducted a test using the urines that we collected from our deer. Here are the results we found... Using plain old aquatic Ph test strips that you can purchase at a pet store, we took two gallons of freshly collected deer urine and compared the results; keeping one gallon in the refrigerator and leaving one gallon sit out at room temp.
Within 3 days, the gallon that was left to sit out at room temperature had a ph equivalent to ammonia solution, which is a ph Level of 12....
Surprisingly the gallon that was refrigerated hovered at around 7-8 ph for about the first 3 weeks. Just for the record, urine upon being expelled has a normal Ph range of +/- 6.5 to 7.5 depending largely on the diet....
From 3 -5 weeks after refrigeration, the Ph level slowly climbed to 9 - 9.5. At around 6 weeks the urine had made it 10 and by the 8th week, the urine had finally reached 12, which again is equivalent to ammonia solution.
My unofficial findings concluded that by keeping the urine cold, the temperature did not supply the ideal environment for the bacteria to feed and reproduce, just as with the milk, but I surely would not use 8 week old milk in my coffee....
The smell of fresh deer urine?
We can attest to the fact that fresh doe urine definitely has a perfume-like smell to it and the buck urine has a harder musky smell to it. Not even remotely close to the smell of the pungent odors that we are used to buying from the shelves in many stores.
One question for you to think about: When was the last time you stood at a urinal and urinated the color of coffee? Or better yet, have it be the consistency of tar?
Fresh doe urine is naturally a light golden brown and the buck urine tends to have a reddish tint due to the presence of testosterone. These colors do shift slightly according to diet of the deer, but black and thick with a pungent ammonia smell is definitely not a sign of good things.
The Scent Industry and Marketing
Most scent companies don't raise or own the deer in which the urines come from. Instead a large portion of the big name scents companies rely on deer farms to collect the urine in large shipping containers and ship it to the scent companies bottling facility. At the bottling facility most companies have large bulk tanks where all the urines are dumped in and mixed together, where it loses the deer specific smell of the urine. These bulk tanks then feed automated bottling machines that can fill in excess of 200 bottles a minute or more. Not only do some of the scent companies buy their urine from deer farms, they don't even take the time to ask what type of urine or collection stalls the urine will be collected in.
You can be confident that the scents you purchase from Stonycreek Whitetails, LLC is 100% pure urine, collected fresh and bottled as a by-product of individual deer, not from a collection of multiple deer mixed together.
Stonycreek Whitetails, Fresh from our deer to your door®.