He came with head down, nose to the ground, walking exactly as I had. But I knew the rubber boots would defeat his sense of smell. Knee-high rubber boots make it impossible for a deer to smell where you walk.
I thought, as we approach deer season, it might be a good time to explore some of the great myths surrounding whitetail deer and deer hunting. Where these myths and misconceptions come from is varied. Some are perpetuated by manufacturers, some by outdoor writers and some just from…who knows?
1. Rubber boots keep a deer from smelling where you walk. Perhaps that is one of the greatest myths. Go to any hunting camp anywhere in the whitetail woods and you will find 90% of the hunters wearing rubber boots regardless of how dry the terrain. They are firmly convinced this helps defeat a buck’s nose. This is absolutely false. It does no good whatsoever.
The truth is, a deer is far more likely to smell your head or even more so, where you put your hands than they are your feet. In all my years of hunting, I can only recall one time I saw a deer smell my footprints. I can think of several times they smelled where I put my hands. I routinely hunt in tennis shoes or in cold weather, leather boots. I also kill anywhere from six to a dozen deer a year. Nuff said about that.
2. Bucks have a primary scrape. Not at all true. In fact, scrape hunting in general is a poor way to kill a mature buck. There is no such thing as a primary scrape. What is one? What defines one? No one can tell me because it is just a term an outdoor writer made up. Bucks have absolutely no preference in what scrape to visit and in fact, once they are 3.5-years old, they seldom visit one at all. If they do, 85% of the time, it is at night. I recall an article in a great hunting magazine about scrapes-primary, secondary and tertiary scrapes.
The author, who I know quite well, went on to explain just how a buck visits each one. Sometime later I questioned him about his knowledge of scrapes. He knew zip. The entire article was pure recycled pasture. He made it all up and within three months that is all hunters were talking about.
Big scrapes are communal scrapes, used by all deer of both sex and age and quite often, have nothing to do with breeding. “Does visit scrapes, leave their scent and if they are in heat, a buck follows them off.” That is an absolute non-truth. It does not happen at all. In fact, there are even communal rubs. Once again, I tend to think an outdoor writer made it up to sound like an expert. Nuff said.
3. It is detrimental to urinate anywhere near your stand. Not only false but it is actually beneficial. Human urine is the same to a deer as deer urine. Cow, goat, sheep…they all work as attractants to deer both does and bucks. In fact, for several years, when making mock-scrapes, I used nothing but my own urine. How this nonsense got started, I have no idea. Nuff said.
4. The moon determines when the rut will start. Actually, the moon has nothing to do with the rut. In fact, it has little to do with deer movement at all. The only effect I have ever felt the moon has on deer or deer movement is that when you can see the moon during daylight hours, deer tend to move better.
As far as nocturnal movement, how about this? One year in IA, over a two month period, I accompanied some biologists as they did night census work on deer. We saw 18% fewer deer during a full moon than on dark nights. That is the exact opposite of what was commonly believed. I actually know the two guys that kept this moon-rut myth alive. They are both outdoor writers. Nuff said.
5. Bucks make boundary rubs to define their territory. Complete bull. Not only do they not make boundary rubs, there is no such thing and they do not have territories as such. It is the does that have territories, not the bucks. The bucks travel extensively to find the hot does.
It is this travel that makes them more vulnerable then, than at most times. The traveling deer, whether it be for food, cover, pressure or sex, is the vulnerable deer. If deer don’t move, we can’t find them. But bucks do not defend territories, they will defend the right to an estrous doe but not her territory or his because he has none. Nuff said.
6. You can tell a buck track from a doe track by the dew claws. In truth, there is only one way to tell what sex the animal was that made the track. You must see them standing in it. All else is just a guess. Nuff said about that.
7. You can buy products that will keep a deer from seeing, smelling, hearing or in any way detecting you. No, you cannot. You can do things that help but nothing completely works in eluding a deer’s senses.
No scent product works better than being clean, wearing clean clothes and playing the wind. I use nothing but unscented soap and as far as my clothing goes, the most important article to keep clean is my hat. A deer will smell your head faster than any other part of your body.
No camouflage is better than being still. It does not matter what you wear if you don’t move and that includes blaze orange or red. I wear ASAT camo most of the time because I like it. However, it is certainly not magic.
There is only one way to defeat a deer’s hearing. That is to make no sound. You may be able to mask what the sound is but you can’t keep them from looking for it. Make the wrong sound and they are gone. Nuff said about that.
8. Rattling is only effective during the pre-rut. Deer rattle or spar or fight from the time they have hard antlers until they shed their antlers. The key is in knowing how to spar or rattle. The biggest buck I ever killed in Aabama, I killed opening day of bow season on a full moon in 96-degree weather. He was the seventh buck I sparred in that morning. Nuff said.
I could go on for quite a while but I am limited to space. If 100 of you faithful readers will pay $10 each,
I’ll do a seminar on the four most effective ways to kill a trophy buck. Just give Tommy Bryan the check and when we reach 100 folks, I’ll give you my $3,000 seminar and slide show.
Contact Sloan at -- firstname.lastname@example.org.