It’s common knowledge to wildlife biologists and most deer hunters that white-tailed deer can smell about 100 times better than humans. It’s why serious deer hunters spend so much time, effort and money on products and strategies intended to defeat their noses. What is less known – at least among hunters – is how well deer see.
Deer see differently than humans. They are dichromats, which means their eyes only contain two cone structures. These cones are excellent at detecting light and color in the shorter, blue wavelengths of the visible spectrum, but not in the longer, yellow, orange and red wavelengths. These specialized cones allow deer to see in the dark, and well into the ultra-violet (UV) spectrum that is totally invisible to humans and many other animals. Hmmm.
A couple years ago, this unique biology got aerospace engineer, avid deer hunter and Outdoor Life bowhunting editor, Dr. Todd Kuhn thinking.
“Deer are incredibly curious animals, and I wondered if they could be drawn to investigate UV light sources or conditioned to visit food sources or mineral sites that had been treated with some kind of UV enhancement,” says Kuhn.
What Dr. Kuhn came up with would forever change deer management and attraction. His creation, Glo-Cote, is an inert, water-soluble ultra-violet dye that reacts with UV rays and gives off a greenish glow that deer can see day or night.
Kuhn went about testing his new creation, and the results were compelling.
“Our first test was really telling,” recalls Kuhn, who used an emergent six-acre soybean field for his initial study. “The field was about a foot high and we lined the perimeter with trail cameras. We monitored the field for a full week before testing, and while deer would feed around the edges, none of them went to the middle of the field,” he says. “Then we sprayed Glo-Cote over a large patch in the very center of the field. Within 24 hours, deer were frequenting the treated part of the field, and within 72 hours, they had eaten the patch completely.”
No nutrients or scent additives were contained in the Glo-Cote dye, so the remarkable results of Kuhn’s initial test could be solely attributed to Glo-Cote’s unique, UV visual attraction.
Unlike scent attractants that disperse downwind and attract deer through a relatively narrow scent corridor, Glo-Cote creates a 360-degree visual queue that attracts deer by sight from all directions. Deer are, indeed, naturally curious creatures, and Kuhn’s hunch that deer would investigate UV-treated objects and areas proved spot-on. He was also correct in his assertion that wild deer can become conditioned to visit UV-enhanced sites through the application of Glo-Cote to separate food or mineral products. The response is the very definition of Pavlovian. Upon discovery, whitetails are rewarded with a positive experience, and can learn to associate the neon-glow with food or nutrition.
Subsequent and exhaustive field-testing has proven that deer attractants and areas such as food plots, bait stations, feeders, mineral sites and agricultural crops treated with Glo-Cote are discovered and frequented within 24 hours of application (some even sooner) and receive significantly greater traffic and usage when compared to untreated sites and products. In fact, Kuhn’s studies have concluded that Glo-Cote-treated or enhanced attractants are 180-times more likely to be discovered by animals than traditional, untreated attractants.
Areas and products treated with Glo-Cote have been shown to receive significantly more daylight traffic when compared to untreated areas. Additionally, research has shown that Glo-Cote-treated products are consumed in higher volume than untreated products, helping whitetails grow bigger and healthier. Evolved Habitats and Wildgame Innovations Glo-Cote products can also be used to “activate” scarcely used food plots or bait sites, allowing hunters to steer deer to specific locations by treating crops, native vegetation or other food sources. Glo-Cote is water-soluble and will dilute and wash off in the rain.
Plano Synergy began adding Glo-Cote to select Wildgame Innovations and Evolved Habitats attraction products in 2015, and the UV-enhancer is currently included in nearly a dozen different products, including Wildgame Innovations’ Dominant Buck and Wild Estrus deer urine lines, as well as Evolved’s Deer Cane Black Magic Max and Dirt Bag products.
Lifelong deer hunters and Co-hosts of the popular Driven TV program on Outdoor Channel, Pat and Nicole Reeve have used Glo-Cote extensively, and worked closely with Evolved Habitats to develop a Glo-Cote-enhanced deer attractant product called the Dirt Bag. “The Dirt Bag is a unique because it looks like dirt and blends into the environment. Other hunters aren’t likely to notice it, but deer easily locate it because of its strong molasses odor and Glo-Cote UV-enhancement,” says Pat, who uses the Dirt Bag to attract deer to supplemental nutrition sites, camera locations and hunting sites, where legal.
Dr. Kuhn, himself, had the opportunity to hunt over the Dirt Bag product on a recent trip to Southeast Kansas, where he arrowed the largest buck of his significant hunting career. “It was a media hunt,” recalls Kuhn, “so none of us had a lot of time to do much scouting. Taking that buck over the Dirt Bag was an unforgettable experience… not only because it was the biggest of my life, but also because of the time, energy and other resources I had invested in the development of Glo-Cote. It was a wonderful and powerful affirmation, on-par with anything I ever experienced during my 20-year career at NASA.”
As powerful as its witchcraft may seem, Glo-Cote isn’t a miracle, it’s just science; science that Kuhn hopes will help hunters to maximize their enjoyment afield and wildlife and habitat managers to grow healthier deer herds.
To learn more about specific, Glo-Cote-enhanced deer-attraction products, visit www.evolved.com and www.wildgameinnovations.com. To read Dr. Todd Kuhn’s articles, go to http://www.outdoorlife.com/people/dr-todd-kuhn.