Deer Licking Branch – Scent Communication
Most hunters know that deer communicate with each other using scent. They have long used real urine (although synthetic scents are becoming more important) as a cover scent and as an attractant. Doe in heat lures are popular during the rut and can be quite effective. While more and more people are becoming aware of the licking branch and pre-orbital scents, many don’t seem to grasp the true value it can have for your hunt.
This next statement may surprise you. The licking branch is one of the most important communication deer make with each other and will make a huge contribution to your hunting success. Many hunters have used a mock scrape, putting either buck urine, doe urine or both in a scrape on the ground. Those same hunters often do not create a licking branch using pre-orbital scent above that scrape. This is a mistake! In fact, it is likely more effective to put this scent on the overhanging branch than it is to put the urine in the scrape itself.
Why is the licking branch so important? This is how deer communicate with each other every day. It is like a bulletin board and sometimes a dating site. Most of the deer in an area will taste the branch first (seeing who is around) and then rub their own pre-orbital gland on these branches. Bucks can find out what does are in the area and also what rival bucks may be around. This behavior is not just related to the rut, it happens all year long. In fact, the scrapes themselves often appear under preexisting licking branches, not the other way around!
Because they are used all year long, a licking branch is a great place to set up a trail camera. It doesn’t have to be an existing licking branch. Using a quality synthetic pre-orbital licking branch scent, you can make your own mock licking branch. Choose a location near travel corridors on a branch that hangs about head high for a deer. Apply the scent and hang the camera nearby. The best part is, once the deer begin using it, you will not have to go in and refresh the site; the deer will do it for you. This will allow longer trail cam soaks without having to disturb the area. Some of the larger bucks may visit this branch at night, but when the rut approaches, many of these visits will switch to the daylight hours.
This season, I recommend buying a good synthetic licking branch or pre-orbital scent. Try a few locations and catalog your results. You’ll be impressed just how effective having this tool in your bag of tricks will be.
Nelson Creek Outdoors is dedicated to bringing you the best, most effective hunting and fishing scents available today. Our commitment to our customers is to help them be more effective in the woods and on the water. We hope you will try our great line of real and synthetic deer hunting scents.