I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast and an avid fisherman, but my hunting experience was limited until very recently when my family moved to a 70-acre property in rural Alabama. I’ve also been interested in hunting and enjoyed reading and hearing stories about hunting throughout my life, but when we moved to the country, I began reading and learning as much as possible about whitetail deer.
The first deer I harvested was a spike. It was the first and only deer I saw that first season. To say I put a lot of man-hours in a stand that season is an understatement. I spent a great deal of time reading, clearing out shooting lanes, and planting food plots. To end up with a spike was a little demoralizing, but I was still excited to get my first deer. I started trying to figure out what I need to do better: better camo, better scent, better location, more time in the woods… the mental checklist.
The second season I moved to a new location, planted a food plot, and my opportunity increased. I saw more spikes and does, but my 243 couldn’t hit the side of a barn on a cold barrel. I sited it in, and it was more accurate after multiple shots. Talk about frustration. I finally was able to harvest a young doe on a new rifle, but nothing was coming bigger than a spike.
On my third season, I wanted to get an early start, so I bought a crossbow. After three years, I was finally starting to dial in on my local deer population. I had a little more knowledge from all the reading I had done. I had begun to identify plants and trees, the differences between red and white oak, persimmon and when they fruit, and the timing of all things deer. I harvested plants the deer seemed to like and distilled them to make what I planned to use as a cover scent.
I had been buying doe urine, cover scent soap for my clothes, and anything I thought would give me an edge. None of these produced any tangible results. In fact, it seemed like these strong commercial scents were offensive to the deer. So, I switched to the distillate I had made, (which has come to be known as Alpha Buck.) It had a noticeable, but subtle scent.
Then things started to get a little weird. Deer were coming in so fast that I couldn’t get set for a shot without spooking them. I thought I played the wind right. But, the deer would linger right around my stand and then slowly move on. Once, I freshened up my camo with the scent on the back porch and went hunting. A few minutes later, my family saw a big buck in the side yard right at the house! At the time we didn’t attribute it to the distillate; we just thought it was a coincidence.
Rifle season opened, and I was hunting a crossing that showed promise. I was starting to see deer come in both day and night–bucks and does.
One day I was hunting with a good crosswind, and I had an opening to my rear right that I didn’t have to worry about, so I kept my focus front left at the crossing. A strong north wind prevented me from hearing a buck come upon me from the edge of the clearing – about at my 3 o’clock. When he saw me, and I got a glimpse of him, he retreated hard back down the edge of the clearing, sounding like who-knows-what through the woods. That was my a-ha moment. I might have something here!
So, I started experimenting. I put all my cameras on a food plot and bought some Tink’s Wicks things – the bright orange ones. This plot historically did not attract one buck to it – only does and yearlings. So, I put out the wicks with the new scent, and immediately I had bucks coming in. No trophies, but that was definitely an increase – from no action to some action.
One day, when I was in my shooting house, I sprayed myself and the ports of the shooting house with the distillate. There was a good north wind, it was cold, and the leaves were crunchy. I soon had three does come within forty yards on my downwind side. They stopped, alert but not nervous, took a whiff I guess, and stood there for a least 15 seconds before slowly moving on. I had never seen deer on that side and definitely not on downwind. So, in my third year, early in the gun season, I took a young doe. I also made a mercy shot on a doe who was crippled on the right front leg.
The freezer was full. I had more than enough deer meat. I was interested in getting my man card and putting one on the wall, so I went back to the crossing and set up a camera. I was getting good activity during the first week of January. Several bucks showed up on camera during the day. I thought this would be my best bet to put one on the wall. I moved a tree stand to the area and did some prep and let it rest for a while before I hunted it.
On January 21st, I went on a morning hunt. I gave myself an 8:00 am quitting time. It was warm that day with a southerly wind. I put my camo over my pajamas and sprayed myself with the distillate. I sprayed it into my hands and washed my face and neck with it. I even sprayed it a couple times in my mouth. I got in the tree stand and sprayed it around to get an idea where my downwind was. Directionally, I had my seven o’clock through my 12 o’clock to keep my eyes on to hunt. About 7:55 that morning I saw a little movement at my downwind side. It was the top of his antlers. Before I knew it, he was coming up the hill fast, not cautious whatsoever. It was hard to find him on the scope because he was moving in so quickly. I finally got my crosshairs on him when he stopped on a high spot to get wind or to see what was going on. I took a shoulder shot, which from my elevation was probably low because it came out of his armpit and was not fatal. Fortunately, he moved about thirty yards in front of me and presented a neck shot, which I took.
So, I got my wall hanger, five points on one side three on the other. I could not believe it. That was not supposed to happen that way. He came downwind and without caution. I still find it hard to believe.
After taking some pictures, one of the first people I contacted was my neighbor. An outstanding young man who often helped and encouraged me on my hunting ventures, he probably shook his head more times than not on my ignorance and lack of deer hunting prowess. I gave him the bottle of the little I had left. He used it on a food plot that he could not hunt on a south wind because it would put his scent on the plot. He tried it on a south wind and said he saw more deer on his plot at one time than he has ever seen and had the buck come up fast and without caution within yards of his shooting house. He said it was unbelievable.
Is this a miracle spray? No. It’s a tool, if used correctly, that can help you harvest your deer. For one thing, it’s subtle. Deer have a very keen sense of smell, and much of the other commercial products I’ve tried are just too strong. Second, timing. When the bucks start showing up on cameras during the day, it’s peak of the rut. In my neighbor’s experience, there were two bucks, but one came up to him huffing and puffing, showing aggression, just as my deer did. So, I would use some caution. The does that came in were curious and much more relaxed. The spikes that came in on me came in fast and with their heads low, necks straight. This has been helpful to me. While I’m not an expert hunter at all, I believe I have developed a product that will help other hunters bag their own wall hangers.
Please be a considerate hunter. Follow local regulations and consider leaving deer for others to experience. Be a good steward of what has been given to you. And, good luck! I can’t wait to hear from you guys.