Great question Gilles. I have asked many so called experts about when I can determine the actual start and end of the rut. I have received several answeres and they do not coincide with each other. Let's hope our buddies here can straighten us out.
I have tried scents during bow season and I don't think they work very well. I had a beautiful set-up on a nice 8pt buck several years ago. I scouted diligently and found a nice scrape area where I saw him scenting his glans and his scrapes. For several days I watched his behavure and I actually got to see him mount a doe 6 days before the season started. Man, I was pumped and thought I had his number. I ran out and purchased a fresh bottle of doepee and on opening day I sprinkled a couple drops on his scrape and headed for my stand. I was very careful about my human scent and during bow season I only boots that are kept outdoors at my farm. At just a little after dawn I heard him coming - he rubbed his nose in the scrape and took off like greased lightning. Never saw him again.
I do, however, use a masking scent on my clothes once in a while. My favorite is fox urine. I have had many deer come very close while I had just a slight amount of fox urine on my jacket. I can't say for sure that it was the urine but it seems that when I don't use it the deer do not get as close.
I don't get too carried away when it comes to using scents while bowhunting. I will, however hang up a scent dripper about a week before I plan on hunting the pre-rut in Se Ohio. I don't think they are attracted so much as it just makes deer comfortable being in the area. I do use a boot pad with red fox urine while walking to and from my stand. If I happen upon a pile of horse droppings, I make sure to get the scent on my boots. Since they occationally ride horses on the trail I walk in on and because there are horses pastured where I hunt, the deer aren't alarmed by the scent and it covers my scent while walking in and while on stand. If the rut is getting close, I'll hang out some Tinks 69 after I'm at my stand. I'd rather rely on the wind being right than to put all my hopes on scents and scent suppressant gear. I can't get to my stand without working myself into a lather, so I doubt that I'd gain alot my making scent salesmen rich. My stand is high enough to keep my scent from being on the ground so, I mostly rely on a masking scent on the way to and from my stand. Just my $.02. Others might swear by all the scents they use, I'll just stick to my sense.
I havent had good luck with scents. Only a couple of times the scent I was using attract deer. Mostly they dont pay no attention to it or they will leave the area. Not flag and run, just leave and not hang around. I've had the best luck by keeping my hunting clothes and shoes seperate from other clothes. I wash them in hunting soap, then store them in a non-scented tupperware container. I wash with unscented soap and brush my teeth with baking soda. I dont put on my hunting clothes until I'm at my hunting site. I just try to be as scent free as possible. That is what has worked for me. I've been doing this for the last 2 years, I've seen more deer in the first week than all of the previous seasons.
I agree with RLB.
Factor in the wind and good camo and you can see deer. Last season I did use some Jackie's "doe in heat" and it held the attention of 2 doe just 5 feet from my 6' step ladder stand for what seemed like forever (I was holding my breath). But I also had bucks walk right past without stopping.
jayber, my stand is on the side of a hill and it's about 25-30 ft up on the downhill side, which is the side I face. That just happens to be the best, nearest to the ground place on the tree. I've had deer come from all angles even uphill from me. I have more problems trying to maneuver for a shot when they're at eyeball level than I do from having them wind me. I suppose the air currents take my scent uphill at a high enough level for the most part, to keep me from being winded. It's not a foolproof setup, but the majority of the action is to the side or in front of me anyway. I've taken 6 with a bow and countless with a muzzleloader from that stand, so something must be right. Saw puts his stand up about 40 ft in a valley and not only doesn't get winded, but he has yet to be seen way up there. He's a looooong way up, but he's got a great setup. I wouldn't dare go up in a stand without a good safety belt!
You're right, that's up in the cheap seats! I've been in his stand a couple of times and even though it's high, it's user friendly because of the branches. It doesn't hurt that it's in a great spot. He's filled lot's of tags with a bow from there on some nice bucks. Works for him!
My experience tells me that scents and calls work when the deer you are hunting want them to work. Basically like calling turkey. You can blow a grunt tube all season long but until that little switch in the buck's head turns on to "rut" then there isn't much use. Same goes for scents, best used once the deer in your area get the hormones going. Until then find a food source or travel corridor to hunt.
I will use a small amount in an attempt to hide my scent. I use a drag rag with a small ammount of scent even though I wear knee high rubber boots. I have had big bucks walk over my trail and never spooked, so I beleive it does help.
In my opinion, human scent control is # 1, then, consider synthetics. I use Buckfever Synthetics by Hawgs Limited. I use the Rut formula during the rut, but everything else, year round in front of my trail cams. check out the website: http://www.hawgslimited.com
On a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being good, I would give scent about a .002. If you are in a managed areas where the buck to doe ratio is about equal, I would give calling (during the rut only) about a 10. In the early archery season calling would get about a .001.
The best ways to improve the odds are scouting, be smart going to and from your stands and never use the same stand more than a day or two at a time. Control the buck fever and be proficient with your equipment. Also be sharp on the stand and don't sleep, like some of my friends do.