Fatal Attractants for Mature Bucks - North American Whitetail (2024)

Fatal Attractants for Mature Bucks - North American Whitetail (1)

July 26, 2022 By Haynes Shelton

On a cold November morning in central Kansas, I climbed into a lock-on I’d hung about 15 feet off the ground in a tree that wasn’t much taller than that. My stand was nestled in a hedgerow that divided a field of standing milo and a thicket of belt-high grass and thorny plums.

An old fence gap between the two habitats looked like the perfect ambush site, and I’d waited all week for a mature buck to walk through the opening. Hoofprints in muddy tractor ruts were evidence that at least some deer were doing so, but the right buck hadn’t yet. Sometimes it never happens the way you think it will.

With less patience than I started the hunt with, I reached for my trusted rattle bag just as the sun peeked over the horizon. I clashed the little pouch of wooden dowel rods together as hard as I could for about 30 seconds, waited, and did it again. It was oddly still that morning, and it seemed as if the sounds of combat I created echoed for miles.

I saw a dark blur of movement 500 yards across the plum thicket and over the neighboring property line. A fence there marked the start of a cattle pasture, and I thought I must’ve seen a bovine fleeing from the sounds of my call.


But then, I spotted a colossal-bodied 8-pointer standing abreast of the barbed wire, looking straight at me. He was dead still. His head was straight up with his ears at full alert. It was cold enough for me to see steam coming out of his nostrils.

I clashed the rattle bag once more, and the buck jumped the fence as though it wasn’t even there. He then barreled toward my stand in such haste that I almost didn’t get my bow off its hanger and drawn before he’d closed the distance. At 27 yards he stopped broadside, and I sent an arrow through him. About five minutes later, my pounding heart had somewhat slowed down.

What’s the point? Sometimes you shouldn’t wait for deer to come to you. When conditions are right, you can experience some of the most incredible whitetail hunting on earth by using attractants to lure big bucks into shooting range.


There are many proven attractants that should remain in every whitetail hunter’s arsenal, especially during the rut. To illustrate this point, we gathered the products seen above.

Proven Big Buck Attractants

  1. Rattling Forks
  2. Super Charged Scrape-Dripper
  3. Magnum Key-Wick High-Intensity Scent Dispenser
  4. ScrapeMaker 4-N-1 Tool
  5. True Talker OG Deer Call
  6. The Original Can Call
  7. Hot-Scrape Synthetic Estrus with Scent Reflex Technology
  8. Grave Digger Doe Estrus
  9. EverCalm Herd Scent

What’s best is that each of these items or a similar one can easily fit into your pack or on your person, so there’s no excuse to leave home without them. In bow season, throw a decoy into the mix and that pretty much covers the category. Now let’s break down some whitetail attractants with long “rap sheets” for killing big bucks:

Rattling “Horns”

No matter if you use actual or imitation antlers to replicate buck combat, this long-range calling technique plays against a buck’s territorial senses and natural curiosities by convincing him that two bucks have engaged in battle.

Control the volume of a rattling sequence by exerting more or less force. It’s possible to reproduce light sparring sounds by tickling antlers together softly. However, I almost always prefer a more aggressive demonstration that imitates a violent encounter. Thrashing antlers against brush adds realism.

Combining rattling with the use of a buck decoy can be highly effective, but “blind rattling” should never be ruled out. As with any form of calling, be wary of overdoing it.



Grunt Tube

Bucks grunt for many reasons, but territorial and tending grunts are the two vocalizations most often reproduced by hunters. Mature bucks will sometimes interpret a low-pitched, drawn-out grunt as a challenge to fight. As the stages of the rut advance, eager bucks may respond to territorial grunts in order to claim breeding rights.

In contrast, the tending grunt is performed staccato. Short bursts replicate the sounds of a buck chasing a doe. Many modern grunt calls also now contain trumpet-like air channels that can be used to create the ultra-aggressive “snort-wheeze” vocalization, which indicates strong intent to battle.

Doe/Fawn Bleat

Most doe bleats aren’t loud, so it’s understandable that hunters seldom hear them. In general, bleat calls are most effective during the breeding season, when bucks are actively searching for receptive mates.

Best used sparingly, the “baaawl” sound of a mature doe can pique the interest of cruising bucks and draw them closer to your stand. Be careful, though, as mature bucks will often circle downwind before approaching.

Fawn bleats can work throughout the season, as they trigger the maternal instinct of does. The idea is to encourage nearby females to investigate the sounds of a lone fawn. With any luck, a responding doe could have a big buck in tow.

A whitetail’s olfactory system is far more effective than a human’s. (For much more on that, see pg. 88.) Hunters have capitalized on that knowledge by using organic and now even synthetic scent lures to attract deer.

Estrus doe urine and buck testosterone can be used (where legal) throughout the season as cover scents/attractants. While bucks are actively checking community areas for does, hunting over actual or mock scrapes, rubs and licking branches that have been treated with scent can create up-close shot opportunities. When all works as planned, you can use deer scent to draw bucks into shooting lanes they otherwise might not enter and then stop them there for a good shot.

Buck/Doe Decoy

Strap it to your back or lug it in by hand, but don’t leave home without a full-body decoy when the conditions are right. And that’s usually during the pre-rut period, when bucks are first becoming aggressive and laying down sign.


In my opinion, a buck or doe decoy can help a hunter in two incredible ways. First, it can totally alter the travel pattern of mature bucks in open areas. Providing visual evidence there’s a challenging buck or receptive doe in the vicinity is sometimes all that’s needed to reroute a cruising bruiser right under your stand.

Second, a properly positioned decoy can line a buck up broadside and provide the hunter with a perfect shot angle at a distracted target. Before fighting, bucks most often will approach one another from the rear, then circle to meet head-on. Always set a buck decoy so that it’s quartering slightly off to one side of you, never facing directly at or away from you.

Trial & Error

There are stores full of viable whitetail attractants. No matter which items make it to your pack, my advice is to practice with them before implementing them in the field. Likewise, don’t be afraid to experiment with a variety of tactics and presentations to find what works for you.

As is true with all other hunting gear, no product mentioned here is a magic bullet guaranteeing success. Deer activity, environmental conditions and time of year will largely dictate their effectiveness. But when you can fool a wild whitetail’s senses and lure him within range of bullet or blade, there’s really no greater thrill.

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Fatal Attractants for Mature Bucks - North American Whitetail (2024)


Fatal Attractants for Mature Bucks - North American Whitetail? ›

Estrus doe urine and buck testosterone can be used (where legal) throughout the season as cover scents/attractants. While bucks are actively checking community areas for does, hunting over actual or mock scrapes, rubs and licking branches that have been treated with scent can create up-close shot opportunities.

How do you attract big mature bucks? ›

Mature bucks seem to feel more comfortable in “dirty” plots with plenty of cover and brush nearby. In fact, different types of plants or even weeds growing in the plot may actually be better. The varying height of different types of plants adds “structure” and something near them to which the animals can relate.

What time are most mature bucks killed? ›

Morning Stands for Oak Funnels

On cool mornings mature bucks don't necessarily bed after feeding at night if they have the option to browse in cover. Most of the mature bucks I've killed were taken in the morning, amid oak woods while they vacuumed acorns.

What attracts deer the fastest? ›

Trees and plants that produce a berry, fruit, nut or seed can be whitetail magnets. Hard mast trees such as beech, chestnuts, hickory, honey locusts and oaks, provide great food for deer. Soft mast trees such as apples, crabapples, pear, persimmon and plums also provide great nutrition.

What is the best time of day to shoot a mature buck? ›

Conventional hunting wisdom says early morning and late afternoon are the best times to hunt whitetails.

What is the best attractant for mature bucks? ›

Proven Big Buck Attractants
  • Super Charged Scrape-Dripper.
  • Magnum Key-Wick High-Intensity Scent Dispenser.
  • ScrapeMaker 4-N-1 Tool.
  • True Talker OG Deer Call.
  • The Original Can Call.
  • Hot-Scrape Synthetic Estrus with Scent Reflex Technology.
  • Grave Digger Doe Estrus.
  • EverCalm Herd Scent.

What noises attract big bucks? ›

Some bucks will come in to a grunt call, some to a doe bleat, some to a wheeze, and others will respond to some combination of those vocalizations. This is part of the reason that many hunters don't believe that grunt calls work — they've been in line of sight with a buck that, upon hearing the call, didn't respond.

Is it bad to hunt the same stand every day? ›

Like the extra calories in that Oreo Blizzard, hunting enthusiasm can work against you if you're not careful. Overhunting a stand can lead to a buck pattering you as easily as you can pattern it.

How long will a mature buck stay with a doe? ›

During the peak of breeding activity, most mature bucks will stay with a receptive doe for about 24 hours. This is called the Lock Down phase of the rut. During this time, mature bucks typically only move when they are finished tending one receptive doe and are seeking another.

Do mature bucks move midday? ›

Also, mature deer quickly learn when it's safe to move in their area. 99% of hunters do not hunt midday. Mature deer know this and will use this opportunity to search their area.

What is irresistible to deer? ›

Deer love the garden patch. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans. The whole gamut. Deer eat them all.

What smell attracts deer the most? ›

Natural sweet-and-salty flavor and molasses scent pull deer from afar.

How do you attract deer in minutes? ›

Rattle the bags or your antlers together for around 5-6 seconds. Try performing a couple of bleats, then grunts, then use your rattling bag. Continue to do this in 40-45 minute intervals to attract bucks. Increase the intensity of your grunts once you see a deer.

What time are most big bucks killed? ›

I guide mule deer hunts from late Aug to the end of Jan and 90% of the bucks we kill are either late morning or early afternoon. We spot them in the morning, get them bedded, make our stalk and then kill them when they do their late morning or early afternoon stretch. More often than not it's early afternoon.

Will a mature buck come back after being shot at? ›

Yes, a mature buck will come back to the area where he was wounded, says Kip Adams of the Quality Deer Management Association.

How do you call a mature buck? ›

During those couple weeks of peak rutting activity bucks are in perpetual search of females, while also fighting off any and all competition. Contact grunts, buck growls, and snort wheezes are all effective, but you can be louder and more aggressive with all of the above.

Why am I not seeing mature bucks? ›

The more time you or other hunters spend on the property, the less likely you are to see deer, especially older deer. Studies have shown that as hunting pressure increases, mature bucks move less during daylight. They also spend more time in thick cover, where you're less likely to see them even if they do move.

How do you get big bucks fast? ›

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How to find mature bucks? ›

On the other hand, large tracks and big rubs are great indicators of a mature animal using the area. Concentrations of large rubs in and around thick cover are great clues that you are close to a big bucks bedroom!

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