Deer Decoy Scent Strategies

Decoys must be free of human odor or they’ll scare deer as soon as they get downwind of them.

To prevent my decoys from picking up odors during the off-season, I store them in a shed along with other hunting gear I want to keep as odor-free as possible. A week or so before hunting season, I set the decoys out to be washed by the rain, sun and wind. From that time on, I handle the decoys only with clean gloves, and often rubber gloves. After I set them up in the field, I spray them liberally with either Atsko No-Odor or H.S Scent-Away.

You don’t need deer scent to lure deer into a decoy, but I use it because the scent encourages deer to hang around the decoy longer, and that gives me more opportunity to make a good shot. I’ve used a lot of different scents through the years, but the types I’ve used with best success for the past 15 years on buck decoys are buck urine for pre- and post-rut, and tarsal gland scent for late pre-rut and the rut. With a doe decoy I use Primetime Estrous Doe Urine.

I don’t place scent directly on a decoy, but rather put a stick in the ground between the decoy’s hind legs, hang a scent-wick on the stick and apply the scent to the scent-wick. I also like to use tarsal glands from a previously killed buck. When I’m done hunting for the day, I remove the scent-wicks or tarsals and place them in a Ziploc until the next hunt.


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