Does Vanilla Extract Attract Deer? Here’s What You Should Know

Deer have an incredible sense of smell and it is one of their best survival instincts, and for centuries deer hunters have used scents and attractants to increase the chances of success.

But what about vanilla? Does vanilla extract attract deer? Does it really work?

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Does Vanilla Extract Attract Deer?

Vanilla extract can be used to attract deer and cover up the human scent. Vanilla is a naturally occurring smell that has been used in hunting and trapping for centuries.

Does Vanilla Extract Attract Deer? Here's What You Should Know

It is said the vanilla scent reminds them of acorns, their absolute favorite treat. And during the peak of hunting season, when deer activity occurs mostly at night vanilla and other attractants can be used to lure a deer into your setup during daylight hours.

How Do You Use Vanilla Extract As A Deer Attractant?

There are several ways to utilize vanilla extract as a deer attractant. It can be used alone or in combination with other methods to attract deer to your hunting area.

Put it in a Spray Bottle

You can put vanilla extract in a spray bottle and spray it on tree stumps, leaves, and the surrounding area near your tree stand or spray it directly on your hunting boots and clothing.

Create a Dripper

Take a bottle of vanilla extract. Drill a hole in the top of the lid. Place a stick in the hole and tie it upside to a tree. This will create a slow dripping effect and will last about a week in the woods.

Soak A Cloth In It

Boil some water, then add some vanilla extract. Place a cloth in it. Place the cloth in a Ziploc bag and carry it on you next time you are in the woods.

Combine Cover Scents with Attractants

Combining cover scents with vanilla attractants is an excellent technique for hunters. For example, doe urine is considered of the most popular deer attractants for concealing human odor. Using this and vanilla together can help you bag more bucks.

How To Make Homemade Vanilla Deer Attractant

Below are some simple vanilla deer attractants you can make with common items around the house.

  • Make your own vanilla extract. Cut 4-6 fresh vanilla beans open long ways and scoop out the seeds into an airtight container. Submerge beans with approximately 8 oz. of vodka, cover, and shake. Place in a cool dark place and leave for a minimum of two months. The mixture will turn a dark, rich brown and smell of pungent vanilla when ready.
  • Deer love peanut butter. Mix together vanilla extract with peanut butter and smear on trees in your hunting area (but watch out for bears!)
  • Create a mixture and spray in your area with 1 part real maple syrup, 1 part almond extract, and 1 part real vanilla extract. 
  • Mix vanilla extract and corn oil in an 80/20 ratio. Vanilla extract is primarily made of water and alcohol and therefore evaporates quickly. Mixing vanilla with some corn oil will make the scent linger around your stand longer.

Can You Use Imitation Vanilla Extract?

Deer are not particular about the type of vanilla extract that is being used. Imitation vanilla will work just as well as the real deal.

But some of the hardcore old-timers swear by only using real vanilla extract since imitation vanilla is flavored with synthetic vanilla. This artificial flavoring is typically derived from non-organic ingredients, like petroleum, which are foreign scents to deer and may deter them.

Why Are Deer Attracted To Vanilla Extract?

Deer are attracted to different scents for different reasons. Deer, like most animals, are curious when encountering the super sweet smell of vanilla.

Vanilla may appeal to deer’s food senses and signal a need to forage. Biologists suggest deer may recognize some of the comforting musky, floral, earthy, and even smoky components of vanilla’s aroma, as edible.

Some claim that the scent of vanilla smells similar to that of white oak acorns (one of their favorite foods) in the wild.

Can You Use Vanilla As A Cover Scent?

There are mixed claims about using vanilla extract as a cover scent, many have had success using vanilla extract as both an attractant and cover scent.

You can simply put the vanilla in a spray bottle, or dilute it with water, and spray it on your boots, clothing, and surrounding hunting area.

I personally like to use vanilla cover scent when I am scouting deer bedding areas during the summer because it’s very powerful and can override my human scent. A couple of sprays on my boots are all it takes.

Others claim that you should not use vanilla extract as a cover scent because it will attract the deer and if a deer can smell you, they are likely to see you before they reach you.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Use Vanilla Extract?

Early hunting season (pre-rut) is the best time to use a vanilla extract as an attractant.

During this time of year, deer are focused on food and not the rut. Their priority is building up fat reserves before winter sets in and the scent of vanilla is a food-related smell, as opposed to a predatory smell.

Most of their energy come from fats and carbohydrates, mast from fruit trees like apples, acorns, and blackberries. Deer will be attracted to the sweet aroma of the vanilla.

Can Vanilla Scare Deer Away?

The nose of a deer is its best defense, and there are no guarantees when hunting. Anytime you use an artificial scent to attract deer, you are running a risk.

Some hunters have reported vanilla scent scaring away deer, but it can be difficult to determine whether or not the buck was spooked by the vanilla or the human scent.

The key is to use a subtle amount of vanilla that is not overpowering. Although scents can attract deer, an overpowering scent can also deter them.

For this reason, some people recommend diluting the vanilla with water before use.

Final Thoughts

Using scents to attract deer can vary by state, region and locale. Hunters in Pennsylvania may have great success using vanilla extract, whereas hunters in Florida may say it’s never worked.

With any scent attractant, the key is to use it modestly and test it out. You’ll likely find some deer respond to it, and others don’t. Or that at certain times of the year it works well, and other times its a dud.

But there is no denying that vanilla extract has been used to attract animals for hundreds if not thousands of years. Sometimes a little scent get the curious attention of a deer, which makes all the difference in the world.

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