Tips & Tactics

The Tarsal Hoarder

The Tarsal Hoarder

By Jackie Bushman (as told to Tim H. Martin)

Photo: Jackie Bushman has tagged countless bucks using a combination of modern scents and a tactic he’s used since childhood.

Saving and using tarsal glands might be the oldest trick in my hunting book, but those things still work.

Something I’ve been doing since I first started deer hunting — long before scent technology arrived — is to put out deer tarsals. Those are the smelly, dark hock glands located on the inside of every deer’s hind-leg joint.

Nothing smells like a deer more than a deer. That’s why, whenever I manage to shoot one — whether it’s a buck or a doe — it’s not going to the processor until after I’ve removed the hocks and stuffed them into a plastic freezer bag. You might call me a tarsal hoarder!

The Tarsal HoarderI usually set one out on the ground beneath my stand as I walk in, and attach one to a nearby limb once I’ve settled in the treestand. When hunting from a shooting house or blind, I simply set one in a window on the downwind side. I also like to rub the bill of my cap with the tarsal before I walk to my stand.

I highly recommend keeping tarsal glands in the freezer until it’s time to head to the field. Guys, I also highly recommend you warning your wives, girlfriends and mothers what you’re about to do. They sometimes don’t take kindly to finding a bag of stinky deer hair while pulling out the frozen lasagna.

If you don’t want to risk personal injury or can’t get your hands on a fresh hock, you can purchase boot pads and pre-soaked wick pads from Tink’s that are incredibly effective.

The Tarsal HoarderIt’s also a good idea to freshen your older tarsals from time to time with your choice of Tink’s sex lures.

Commercial scents and scent-eliminators can fool a deer’s nose pretty doggone well. I truly believe that today’s technological advances in hunting gear help control odors. And if you pair the modern stuff with this good old-fashioned deer hunter’s tactic, you are going to add more venison to your freezer.

Editor’s Note: If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd