The Hottest Deer Calls and Scents for 2023

The best deer-hunting calls and scents help hunters feel more comfortable in the woods and can attract bucks and does within range. Here’s what to sell this year.

The Hottest Deer Calls and Scents for 2023

Whitetail hunters don’t all buy their calls, scents and gear before the season begins and then never need anything else. They spill bottles of scent or forget one in the woods. They run out of wicks or dispensers. A call might drop out of a backpack and get lost. They will need more calls and scents, among other things, during the hunting season.

Bowhunters and gun hunters may use different products. Scents that work during the early season aren’t optimal for late season. Ditto for calls, too. An aggressive buck grunt to lure a wily but angry whitetail staking his claim to an area may be worthless a couple of months later. Putting out certain buck or doe scents in different parts of the season might be a home run or strikeout.

Knowing what’s hot and when to promote it before and during whitetail deer seasons is critical to making sales. Whitetail deer hunting help drive the industry’s financial train. If it’s not the locomotive, it’s the coal engine being fueled year-round by everything from buck grunts to game cameras. Scents and calls are a big part of that puzzle. Here are some pieces to help make things fit this year.

Calls Really Work

One of the most consistent topics I’ve ever seen on hunting sites is, “Do calls really work?” Second on the list probably would be about rattling, which few in the Southeast believe works outside of Texas and the Midwest. Third probably would be about scents. Let’s discuss calls for now.

Whitetail deer calls aren’t like waterfowl or turkey calls in that unless you’re looking at a buck or doe, hunters may not know or believe they work. I can see a duck or turkey call work. The bird responds, either by coming to my blind or gobbling (or flying away, since my calling is lousy). With whitetail deer, though, you don’t know if a grunt call or rattling antlers work until a buck shows up. He may come in hot, looking for a fight, or be wary and stay away, scanning to see who’s in his territory.

Calls work, though, and that’s a fact. Deer respond. Hunters who don’t believe this probably have given up in frustration, didn’t call enough or expected a buck to come storming in like William Wallace in Braveheart looking for a scrap. Your job is to reinforce that calls work, and it may take time. A solid grunt call always is a good option to have in a hunting pack and one few hunters leave at home, even if they’re unsure about using it. Those who ask good questions of veteran hunters and do their research, along with practice, can get it done.

Possibilities for you to consider stocking are the Primos Rut Roar Grunt Call, Dialect Deer Grunt from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls, and the Brawler Buck from Quaker Boy. One of the all-time classics that still gets knowing nods from older hunters is the Hunter Specialties True Talker. For whatever reason, it went away for a while but now is back as the True Talker OG. It produces sounds of a mature buck, young buck, doe and fawn. How? With a special, new reed and bellows tube; the call has a rubber coating and won’t freeze in cold weather. Woodhaven Game Calls in Alabama makes The Intimidator, which should get bucks fired up to fight or arouse their curiosity later in the season when unbred does are cycling through a second rut period.

Fawn bleats also are top possibilities for your shelves. Fawns flitter around and sometimes, occasionally, get away from the doe or siblings. Waaaaahhhhhh! Waaaaaaahhhhh! A bleat or two can get a curious, protective doe coming in hot to find the wayward fawn, no matter whose it is. Some hunters may have had a boring day and want some action, so they hit the fawn bleat in hopes of smoking a coyote. Doe bleats also are good to have, as does are communicative yet also a bit territorial. The matriarch might want to find out what’s going on with a doe hollering in the area.

The Can from Primos, a flip-over bellows-style call that makes doe and fawn bleats, is a longtime favorite. It’s incredibly easy to use, too. You have options for The Original, the Long Can (longer sounds), the Lil’ Can (shorter bleats) and the Great Big Can (louder). Pick and choose at your desire, but The Original has been around for more than two decades for a reason. Another good one to consider is The Closer from Woodhaven, along with the Adult Doe Estrous Bleat from Hunter Specialties.

Promote your calls during the season, and not just before it starts during your big Whitetail Weekend. (You have one of those, right? If not, plan one now.) Put calls to the fore during the season as conditions change — from early buck fighting to separation, pre- and peak-rut times, and then post-rut late-season seeking. Hunters may come in for something else, or they need a new call, or they’re down on their luck looking for that One Big Thing that could help them tag out. If your calls are collecting dust in a boring corner, you’re missing sales.

Don’t Forget the Scents

While calls can be rotated around, and should be, scents definitely must be top of mind for you and your staff during the whitetail season. What works on opening day may be a complete turnoff two months later when temperatures are colder, does are hot to trot and bucks are getting hit with 1-2 punches and uppercuts by aromas making their hormones go haywire.

Scents are the cologne and perfume of the hunting world. Buck urine, doe estrus, gland lures, synthetic or real (mostly the former, now, thanks to CWD), pre-rut scents, peak- and post-rut, gels, sprays, drippers, misters, foggers, pellets that dissolve … your options are almost limitless. Hunters will be seeking these products before the season and, if they’re smart, during it as well. Be prepared for the entire season and highlight your products well.

Scents are incredibly easy to use today thanks to several great products. One is the Key Wick from Wildlife Research Center in Wisconsin. Scents are all they do; they’re not into 23 other product categories like a burger stand trying to lure salad-eaters. It’s just scents and related products. Key Wicks are easy to hang on tree limbs, and then you can insert the wick into the bottle of urine or scent. No muss, no fuss. I’ve used these for years and love them. They’re great in front of cameras, too.

Another great seller for you should be scent drags. They’re available from Code Blue, Hunters Specialties, Tink’s and others. Wildlife Research has a Pro Drag combo that comes with Trail’s End scent; hunters tie a cord or line to the Pro Drag, dip it in the scent and it trails behind them. Then it can be hung from a tree within shooting range, just like other drags. These are easy sellers and should be combined with scents, possibly as a sweetheart deal or BOGO opportunity. I buy these before and during the season. Hunters in your store will, too. Code Blue’s Rope-A-Dope is like a giant drag, but it hangs from a limb. Scent can be applied to the bottom and bucks or does sniff, rub and gravitate to the spot.

Dripper dispensers in easy-to-hang pouches have become vogue and should be super-sellers. These have a hole in the bottom for hanging and a dripper dispenser with a screw-off cap. Code Blue has a Code Red line, with its Buck Urine Dripper and Doe Estrous Dripper among the top items. Again, they’re easy to use and a cool product hunters will buy multiples of. Consider some kind of 4+1 bargain or discount. Scent pellets, like those from Code Blue, are perhaps easiest to use and don’t involve liquids that could spill or get smashed in a pack. The scent pellets can be dispersed in a mock scrape and then become part of the soil when water is applied or it rains. Again, they’re an easy-selling item with months of sales possibilities from pre- through peak-rut.

If the wind is constant, many hunters like to fog up the place with a mister or aerosol product. Wildlife Research Center’s pressurized Premium Spray Cans include Buck Nip and the legendary Golden Scrape, both of which are powerful and have proven to be successful. These aerosol or mist dispensers can be used on vegetation, near a blind or stand, or at a specific spot for a shot.

Which scents to carry? That’s on you to decide, as the top brands offer proven products. Wildlife Research, Tink’s, Code Blue, Black Widow Deer Lures, James Valley Scents, Hodag, ConQuest and others you may know or stock already have name-identification and longevity. The ConQuest line, including its EverCalm scent, flew under the radar for a long time, yet now is a top brand. James Valley has been around for a while.

Don’t overlook local or regional favorites, either. Smokey’s Deer Lures in West Virginia is a longtime best-seller in the hills and hollers of the Mountain State. Along with urine- and estrous-based scents, Smokey’s has scents from bucks’ and does’ interdigital, pre-orbital, tarsal, and metatarsal glands. Another down in Alabama is Shine’s White Oak Acorn Scent, which is a cover scent long favored by hunters who tried to keep it quiet. Be aware of your state regulations regarding scents from real deer or produced with synthetic formulas; thanks to CWD, some states require the latter. Stocking some of these regional and under-the-radar favorites can get your hunters’ attention and perhaps ring up a few more sales.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.