By Josh Boyd
The deer attractant industry grows exponentially with every passing year. A brief search of the internet, or glance down the aisles of your preferred outdoor retail store will likely reveal a virtually endless number of such products. Almost all of these products promise near-instantaneous success, and speak of their “irresistible aroma.”
However, when something sounds too good to be true, it typically is, and this seems to never be truer than when speaking about deer attractants. In reality, deer are wild creatures that roam far and wide in search of preferred food sources. The presence of a sweet-smelling block, powder, or gel, is unlikely to override this natural inclination to wander. However, the best of these products can indeed entice a visit from those deer which naturally traverse a given area.
The following is an account of personal experiences with various popular deer attractants on the market, though individual results might vary from one situation to the next.
Buck Jam is a liquid mineral concoction, which is primarily intended for use when freshening mineral sites. This attractant comes in several flavors, including apple, persimmon, acorn, and sweet corn. Buck Jam is packaged in a one-gallon jug that includes a handle, which can be quite handy when walking long distances to reach a suitable location for use.
I have used apple flavored Buck Jam on an ongoing basis for numerous years. I must say that I am quite pleased with this attractant, as it seems that every deer that travels near it, cannot help but stop for a quick taste. This liquid mineral leeches into the soil, and in my experience, deer are more than willing to dig a crater in the ground to reach every last available bit.
In its original form, Acorn Rage comes in a fine powder. This powder can be dispersed onto the ground for consumption, and smells heavily like sweet syrup. According to Wildgame Innovations, Acorn Rage consists of ground acorns, rice bran, and roasted soybean meal. Standard bagged portions of Acorn Rage provide 5-pounds of attractant.
I have used Acorn Rage on two occasions, during which other critters seemed to consume the product in its entirety before any deer were ever aware of its presence. On one afternoon, I watched from my stand as two raccoons fought for the better part of 10 minutes over this sweet-smelling powder. I have since discontinued any further use of this product.
Deer Cane is a product that now dates back several decades, and can still be found in nearly every sporting goods store imaginable. In its liquid form, Deer Cane is intended to be poured into a new or established mineral lick. Like Buck Jam, this attractant comes in a 1-gallon jug and possesses an outwardly sweet aroma. Deer Cane is also offered in powder or block form.
In my experience, Deer Cane does indeed attract deer that are already traveling through an area. However, its appeal seems to be rooted more in curiosity, than outright attraction. From my observations, deer will visit a Deer Cane mineral site, hoof lightly at the ground, linger for a moment, and move on. In my opinion, Deer Cane appears to entice less of a response than Buck Jam.
Big & J Attractant
Big & J attractant has grown exponentially in popularity over the past several seasons. This attractant is offered in both block and granular form, and features an insanely strong, sweet-grain aroma. In both of its forms, Big & J can be fed on a free-choice basis.
I have used Big & J in its granular form on several occasions in the past. When opening its packaging, there is little doubt as to just how strong this product’s aroma truly is. It stands to reason that deer could smell Big & J from quite some distance. With that being said, this product’s biggest enemy is the rain. Although I did notice deer being drawn to Big & J, moisture of any quantity led to crusting that seemed to stifle the product’s aroma.
Antler King Apple Burst Block
Antler King’s Apple Burst Block weighs a total of 20-pounds, and is fortified with several vitamins and minerals. As its name would suggest, the apple burst block smells of apple, further adding to its appeal. This block can be offered on a free-choice basis in any high deer traffic area.
I have used Antler King’s Apple Burst Block on several occasions during the past few years. This block is rich in aroma, and can actually be smelt from several yards away. In my experience, deer tend to gravitate toward the Apple Burst Block whenever they are in close proximity. This attractant has been a go-to for placement in front of cameras when attempting to take stock of the deer in a given area.
A Word on Legalities
Prior to using any type of deer attractant, one should carefully study the game laws which apply to the area that they hunt. Several states consider attractants to be a form of bait and therefore forbid their use. This same rule applies when considering the use of any attractant containing bodily fluid gathered from live deer. Many states do not allow the use of urine or glandular attractant, in a bid to slow the spread of CWD and other ailments to which cervids are prone.