If you also go fishing, you know how complicated and elaborate bait can be. You need the right bait for the right area for the right fish for the right time of year. Deer are no different. You can bait them, so why not make it a fundamental part of your hunting strategy? If you’ve been overlooking deer attractant or maybe not putting much thought into it, consider taking a more strategic approach.
Just like any animal, food is a big motivator for deer. The hunter’s market is filled with endless options for baiting deer so you can find that perfect attractant that just drives the whitetails where you hunt crazy. Below is everything you need to know to make an informed attractant strategy. Read it over then look at our list of top eight deer attractants. One of them is bound to fit your needs.
Our Top Attractant Picks
- Imperial Whitetail 30-06– “Great because it promotes healthy deer growth”
- Manna Pro Deer Corn– “It’s hard to beat 100% natural corn”
- Wildgame Innovations Persimmon Crush Attractant– “The powder formula makes it a top pick”
- Monstermeal Protein Block– “We love how well this works for herds”
- Sweet Apple Addiction– “It was impossible to overlook its powerful odor”
- Trailpheez Orange Cornfeeder Mix– “Impressive because of how far much feed it treats”
- Stick-N-Lick– “The weather guard sets this lick above the rest”
- Bag R Buck– “A winner for its ease of use”
What do your deer like?
Since they’re herbivores, deer eat a wide variety of plants. In general they have a sweet tooth, so they like things like corn, molasses and fruit. Their main staple is grass which also means they enjoy grains like wheat and rye.
Just like people, though, not all deer are the same. They have different tastes and preferences. In different areas, deer are exposed to different kinds of food, especially fruit. For example, a deer that’s never eaten an orange might not be attracted to the smell of one because it simply doesn’t know what it is.
It takes a certain amount of trial and area to find out what the deer you’re hunting are into. It’s a good idea to start with things that grow locally but in small amounts. In the wild these would be rare treats, and the deer know this. Do your due diligence learning about the animals in your local area. It pays off to get exactly what they like.
Types of Attractant
These days companies manufacture a lot of deer feed and attractant with all sorts of different formulas. Manufactured foods combine different things deer want and need to really draw them in. They include specially calculated ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Often they also include a lot of vitamins and minerals that help your deer grow big and healthy.
Fruit is a special treat for deer. They really love it. They don’t normally have many opportunities to eat fruit, so they jump at the chance. Apples, oranges and persimmons all work well. Cut the fruit open so the deer can smell it ripening from far away.
Corn is a great natural food too. It has a sweet flavor and is also rich in complex carbohydrates that deer especially love in the late season when they’re building up stores of energy for winter. Unfortunately, corn does not have as powerful an odor as fruit. There are a lot of flavor and aroma additives that go well with corn.
Molasses also really hits the spot for deer. They can’t resist the sugary taste, and its syrupy form makes it easy for them to eat.
Deer like the smell of food, of course, but there are other scents that attract them, too. A lot of these involve the pheromones that deer use to communicate. These pheromones play a role in everything from mating to bedding. Take a look at our list of best deer scents to take advantage of this aspect of deer biology.
Licks / Mineral Blocks
Licks and mineral blocks are hard blocks made from a variety of substances. There are a lot of different formulas, but many mix vitamins and minerals along with something sweet like molasses.
They function kind of like hard candy. The deer can lick the lick or block to eat a little bit of the substance. This has a couple of advantages. One, it means it lasts a lot longer. Two, it leaves the deer wanting more, and that helps build habits.
Just like humans deer need a lot of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Often times these might not be so easy to find in the wild. Consequently, they often crave them. This is why licks and mineral blocks work so well to attract them.
Deer need a lot of different vitamins and minerals to grow and thrive. If you want the deer you’re hunting to have beautiful antlers, specifically focuses and calcium and phosphorous. These are the two most prevalent minerals found in antlers at a ratio of two parts calcium to one part phosphorous.
Sodium is also extremely important for deer biology, so they love salt. It’s a great attractant, and they can smell it from far off.
Sometimes attractants come in liquid form. These are great because they’re easy to use. You can pour them in with a food source or just spread them on the ground or plants. They produce powerful aromas because the liquid easily catches the wind.
Food Plot Seeds and Plants (Long term)
If you own your own land you can make food plots to attract deer and get them feeding right where you want them. Grass is the daily staple for deer, so a food plot should feature different kinds of grasses rich in the carbohydrates deer need for energy. They especially love clover, oats and rye.
Fruit trees raise the appeal of the food plot and increase the chances deer will use it habitually. Apples are tough trees that grow in a lot of different climates. Deer enjoy the occasional treat of an apple that’s fallen from the tree.
Deer Feed vs Attractant
Deer feed refers to the staples of the deer diet that they eat and have access to on a regular basis. These are things like grass and cereal grains, acorns or flowers. Attractants are foods or mixtures of foods that are treats for deer because they’re less common. These could be things like fruit or salt. They often have strong odors, so deer can smell them from far away. And because the flavors are a rarity for the deer, they want them whenever they have the opportunity.
Using Deer Attractants
There is a lot of strategy when it comes to using attractants for hunting. Most importantly, you have to use the right attractants at the right times. Deer tastes change a lot throughout the course of a year.
In the spring and summer when the weather is good, deer like high-protein foods and minerals. These help the does give birth and the bucks get strong for the rut. It also helps the bucks grow their antlers. Protein and mineral attractants work well for scouting and building habits in the preseason.
When fall comes around, the deer start craving food with a lot of fat and sugar like corn and molasses. There will be a lot less food around in when winter comes, so they need to build up stores of energy beforehand. These kinds of attracts work better during the season.
A lot of people don’t realize that bucks hardly eat at all during the rut. While they’re all running around chasing does, food-based attractants probably aren’t your best bet. What this does mean, though, is that in the post-rut, food-based attractants work really well on bucks. They’re hungry after several weeks without food.
You also have to place your attractants strategically. If you put them too close to your stand, an impulsive younger deer might spot you long before your trophy buck ever comes close. Put the attractant a decent distance away, but somewhere where you have a good shot.
Our Top Picks In Detail
Imperial Whitetail 30-06
The Imperial Whitetail 30-06 Deer Mineral Supplement comes with a proud buck on the front of the bag. He has antlers of mythical beauty. Imperial Whitetail can put this on their product because they’ve made something specifically for whitetail deer, a mineral supplement that’s designed and proportioned exactly for deer biology.
This attractant is more than just deer feed. It has the right balance of vitamins and minerals to grow strong, healthy deer. This means a vibrant, productive herd, and it also means bucks with trophy-quality racks. Not only will it attract deer, but it will make them better targets as well.
Don’t overlook the attractant properties of this supplement, though. It contains both scent and flavor enhancers to keep deer coming back again and again.
This product comes in a smaller bag and a higher price, but Imperial Whitetail is adamant that this product is not just a glorified salt lick. It’s a scientifically engineered nutritional supplement just for deer.
30-06 is easy to use, too. You can pour it over the soil and then rake it in. It goes great with food plots. It works all season long and can even be effective during the rut.
- Specifically for deer
- Vitamins and minerals
- Promotes antler growth
- Scent and flavor enhancers
- Easy to use
- Effective all season
- Higher price range
Manna Pro Deer Corn
Deer corn is just that–corn. It might not seem special to you and me, but deer love it. Corn is rich in the carbohydrates deer need for energy, especially in the late season when they’re building up their stores for winter. The deer can smell it, and its yellow color makes it easy to spot.
Corn works as a fast and powerful attractant. You can use it in food plots, but it works well even on public land. It’s so simple to use. Just pour it on the ground. Especially if you hunt the same area repeatedly, you can spread a little around your stand each hunt and catch deer who’ve fallen into the habit.
Manna sells their corn in 40-pound bags which can last you a while if you use it correctly. Since it’s an all-natural product, it does run the risk of spoiling or becoming infested. This corn has a six-month shelf life, though, so you can anticipate it lasting most if not all of the season.
- Attracts deer
- Good late season
- Usable on public land
- Easy to use
- Big bag
- All natural
- Can spoil
Wildgame Innovations Persimmon Crush
A lot of people don’t even know what persimmons are, but if you do, you know they’re delicious. Deer apparently agree because they go crazy for the Wildgame Innovations Persimmon Crush Attractant. It’s a dried powder made from real persimmons. You’d probably enjoy eating it yourself.
The attractive properties are amplified by the special powder formula that helps the odor catch the wind. This gets deer in a wide area hungry for persimmon and moving toward your food plot.
You do have to be careful with this attractant. Persimmons are region specific, mostly in the southeast and some in the northeast as well. If deer in your area aren’t used to eating wild persimmons, they may not recognize the smell or flavor. In this case they won’t be very attracted to it.
If they are attracted to it, though, you can count on them coming back again and again. Persimmon Crush also contains a unique base rich in carbohydrates and fat that deer crave before winter comes on. Especially as food becomes scarce later in the season, they’ll find the energy-dense powder irresistible.
Best of all, this attractant is easy to use. Real persimmons or other fruits can be messy and spoil easily. Keep this powder on hand and spread it around wherever you want to hunt. Bowhunters in persimmon country looking to hunt clear into the late season could probably benefit from Persimmon Crush.
- Real persimmons
- Powder formula
- Attractive scent
- Works through the late season
- Easy to use
- Region specific
Monstermeal Protein Block
If you have private land and are maintaining a deer herd, Monstermeal Protein Block can be a great option for increasing both herd size and the health of your deer. Just like weightlifters take protein supplements to maintain lean muscle mass, deer need protein to develop muscle and other tissue–which means great venison for you.
This isn’t just a protein supplement, though. It also contains several vitamins and minerals that help deer grow and stay healthy. They also help bucks grow great antlers. But aside from the health benefits, it has additives that make it attractive to deer like molasses and salt.
Because Monstermeal is high in protein, it’s great for the early season when deer are growing antlers and keeping strong for the rut. Unfortunately, if you’re a public-land hunter who can’t go make food plots in the off season to build herd habits, this probably isn’t your best bet for attracting deer to your stand.
The ingredients are right on the front of the package, so you can see what supplements you’re giving your deer. Plus, despite the complicated formula designed specifically for deer growth, this attractant still comes in a large 25-pound bag at a low cost.
- Great for herds
- High protein
- Vitamins and minerals
- Attractive flavors
- Great for early season
- Low price range
- Not great for public land
Sweet Apple Addiction
This tasty powder comes in what looks like a spice shaker. Don’t accidentally store it in your pantry, or you might wind up getting addicted to it yourself. Sweet Apple Addiction advertises their attractant as 500 times sweeter than sugar. As soon as you open it, you’ll believe it.
Right off the bat, the most obvious positive of this attractant is the strong odor. It’s a delicious odor, too, one that makes you just want to devour it. Deer can smell a lot better than you, so odds are it’ll drive yours crazy.
You don’t get a lot of product when you buy this attractant. Like we said, it comes in what’s basically a spice shaker. It’s an eight-ounce bottle. That’s because it’s designed as an additive. It’s so strong that you can just sprinkle it in with another bait, and it can draw them in.
Maybe the winning quality of Sweet Apple Addiction is that it’s attractive over long distances. And, of course, it’s addictive. It’s great for building habits with herds, but you can also just use it to lure in deer on public land on a single-day hunt. It’s so sweet that it works all season long.
- Super sweet
- Strong attractive odor
- Attractive over long distances
- Works all season long
- Small amount
Trailpheez Orange Corn Feeder Mix
BOGO! Trailpheez comes in two packages. You really get a bang for your buck–no pun intended.
This attractant is designed as a feeder additive. Each package treats a whopping 150 lbs of corn for 300 lbs total. These two little bags should last you a long time. It’s super easy to use. It’s great for feeders and building herd habits, but you can also just pour it on the ground. Your best bet is to do both.
It’s also really potent and attractive, though. This is because of its concentrated orange flavor and aroma. It works on most deer, but especially deer down south regularly exposed to citrus will find the scent particularly enticing.
Trailpheez is 100% natural. It has mineral powder if you’re growing a herd and looking to keep them healthy. It’s not just for private-land hunters, though. Since it smells and tastes like oranges, just the powder itself could be enough to get your trophy buck to step out of the brush.
- Two packages
- Treats 300 lbs of feed
- Easy to use
- Enticing orange flavor and aroma
- 100% natural
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Stick-N-Lick is like a deer lollipop you can easily screw into a tree near your food plot. Made in the USA, you can tell the quality of the craftsmanship as soon as you open it up. It should be no surprise it also comes with additional features that makes it stand apart from other attractants and even other licks.
The coolest thing is the weather guard. A cylinder of plastic around the lick protects it from the elements, so it lasts a long time. Rain or snow won’t melt the lick, and you should be able to get one to two months of use out of it.
Of course, this lick is also an attractant. In fact, one of its problems might be that it’s too attractive. It’s not specifically formulated for deer. The sweet apple and cooked molasses along with the corn are appealing to a lot of animals, so if you live in bear country, you might have a bear take over the feeding area. If you’re hunting a deer-dominated area, though, this attractant is a great option for bringing them to where you want.
Stick-N-Lick works really well for early scouting and putting near trail cameras. If you own private land and like tracking the movements of your deer, this attractant can make a great addition to your food plots. It’ll get the deer coming back again and again.
- Easy to use
- Weather guard
- Long lasting
- Attractive flavor
- Great for trail cameras
- Might attract other animals
Bag R Buck Special Blend
This is not a flashy deer attractant. There aren’t any wild designs or crazy pictures on the bag. There aren’t any devices or gadgets. It’s just a canvas bag with a string at the top. Don’t let all this fool you. Bag R Buck is a powerful method for time-releasing salt and salt aroma into the air.
Unlike a lot of attractants, this one doesn’t rely on feeding the deer to build habits. The deer become addicted just by smelling it. This is great because it makes the attractant really versatile. You don’t need a big food plot to use it. You just hang it from a tree. It’s light and compact, so it’s no problem even if you hunt public land and need something for one-time use.
Of course, if you own land and can leave attractants up, this is an incredible option. The canvas packaging is durable. Plus, since it’s time released, it lasts for months. It’s great for building herd habits and tracking movements.
Bag R Buck basically seems like catnip for deer. We wish they elaborated more on the best ways to place the bag. The downside of the simple packaging is the lack of instructions. Rain dissolves salt in the bag which then leaks out. It’ll work a lot better if you live somewhere with decent rainfall. Just hang it from a tree and let nature do the rest.
- Light and compact
- Long lasting
- Easy to use
- No instructions
- Needs rain to work