How Far Can Deer Smell Corn?

Deer have an exceptional sense of smell. In fact, scientists suggest that they can potentially smell as much as 1,000 times better than us humans. This is due, in part, at least, to the deer’s size of nostrils which are much larger than ours. That’s why they can sense the human presence from sometimes miles away.

This can be extremely frustrating when you’re measuring up for a shot, right?

From my open statement, you’ll probably have already taken an educated guess that deer smell corn from a ridiculous distance away. But just how far away, I hear you ask?

In this article, I’ll run through everything you need to know about deer smelling out corn, including how far they can really smell it as well as how to successfully lure a deer.

Do Deer Like Corn?

Corn is one of the best deer attractants you can get. It’s also very cheap to buy. So, it’s unsurprising that it’s often used to lure them.

An added bonus is that deer love corn. And not just a little bit, either. In fact, all deer have a very strong craving for corn. The favored types of corn for many hunters are those that aren’t overly sweet and packed with starch, like Indian corn.

If you want to spoil the deer before dispatch, to mix things up a bit, you could consider adding a few spoonfuls of peanut butter to the corn.

What’s better than corn when it comes to attracting deer? Corn dowsed in peanut butter, that’s what. With their advanced sense of smell, you can pretty much be guaranteed that you’ll have deer from all around making the journey to try your culinary delights.

Another great tip is mixing your corn pile with horse feed, which also works great.

Can Deer Smell Corn From Far Away?

It’s thought that deer smell corn from upward of 300 yards away. When it comes to Indian corn, however, they can smell this from much further away. Using this type of corn means that the deer will be more likely to stay on the corn pile for a longer period of time, giving you enough time to get yourself pumped up.

One consideration you might not have considered is how long it will take the deer to smell the corn. This is dependent on a few things.

Firstly, the wind. Depending on the direction of the wind, your deer may not be able to smell the corn at all. So, if you want the deer to smell the corn quicker, it’s vital you know the wind direction.

Next up for your consideration is the route of travel. If it’s a high-traffic site, it could take anywhere between 1 and 3 days to pick up on the scent.

Lastly, the area’s size and where the nearest deer are is important. It makes sense that if the deer is close by, they are much more likely to pick up on the smell of the corn quicker, in a matter of hours, potentially.

What Else Attracts Deer?

Corn isn’t the only thing deer absolutely love. While they can smell corn from quite a distance, there are other food sources that can be used that can potentially have deer flocking to the intended area much quicker.

Some of these include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Oats
  • Legumes
  • Apples

There are also companies online that produce mixes of these foods if you want to increase your chances and spoil the deer.

3 Methods To Attract Deer

Below, I’ve outlined 3 of the best methods to appeal to the deer’s sense of smell to attract them.

The first deals with creating your very own plot so the deer smell food and come running your way. The second focuses on creating a corn pile where you want to attract the deer. Finally, the third looks at alternatives to corn, i.e., things that smell just like corn but aren’t actual corn.

Remember to also use the correct light color for hunting deer – you don’t want to frighten them off once you’ve attracted them! 

Let’s get into them.

Create your own food plot

A food source is a great way to entice deer onto your property without arousing suspicion. Hitting the deer’s sense of smell with food is cheap and easy to do, although creating your own food plot and maintaining it can take a while to see into fruition.

Simply clear out a section of your yard to be used to feed deer, and then all you need to do is plant corn. As they can smell corn from extraordinary distances, you should see some success as soon as the corn has grown.

Just ensure (if you can, that is) that the food you plant is in scarce supply in the area. This means the deer will be more likely to smell corn and come straight into your property.

When deer hunting, always make sure that any bait you set is placed away from roads and other areas of traffic. You don’t want to be the unwitting cause of an accident. Nor do you want your intended kill to be life extinct before you’ve had a chance to shoot at it.

Spread the corn

It isn’t just their sense of smell that makes deer remarkable creatures. Anyone who’s hunted deer will be aware that these guys are smart.

Scarily smart at times.

If you are using corn, ensure you spread it out naturally. For example, you can scatter it under trees so it looks like it’s fallen from the trees.

Otherwise, trust me, they’ll know.

You can go about this yourself, or if you prefer, you can use an automatic feeder, which will scatter the corn around throughout the day in an area where (ideally) there should be lots of deer.

Be mindful of the location you are using and what your state laws have to say about this. For example, some states prohibit the placing of deer bait in bedding spots, so be sure to check this out.

Use attractants

You might also want to consider a deer attractant to lure deer to a particular area. There are companies that make a deer attractant that smells just like food. When it comes to deer, you’ll want to purchase a corn-smelling type for reasons previously outlined.

Just be sure that this practice is legal in your state first.


Is corn the best bait for deer?

Corn is undoubtedly one of the best attractants for deer. Not only is it cheap, but deer absolutely love it. So if you use it correctly, there’s practically zero chance that deer won’t smell corn at your intended location.

As well as this, it won’t make a hole in your wallet as it’s cheap as well as extremely accessible. Furthermore, it won’t go bad in the rain. The bright colors of corn also allow the deer to get a good glimpse of it, further adding to this excitement and need to reach it.

Can deer smell humans from far away?

Science tells us that deer can pick up on the human scent from 600 yards away, which is pretty impressive. But, if the scent isn’t overly strong, the deer is unlikely to take much notice. Instead, it will assume that the human (aka the ‘threat’) is not close enough by to be of concern.

What’s the best tip on baiting with corn?

The best way to bait with corn is to place it in a location that’s easily accessible to the deer so they find it quickly. Also, make sure that the corn is easily visible to the deer so they find it even more tempting.

Can you feed deer only corn?

Feeding deer corn all year round isn’t good for them. It can lead to digestive issues. However, when it comes to corn pile baits, this is perfectly fine.

In Summary: 

Deer hunters rejoice. Deer can smell corn easily from far away, which is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including it being so cheap to buy.

The deer’s ability to smell corn from so far away means you can easily entice them to your property simply for fun or lure them to a particular spot to hunt them with ease.

Just a quick word to the wise. Ensure you are wholly aware of what is legal and illegal when it comes to deer baiting and hunting in your state. If the method is illegal in your area, then it’s vital you don’t go around committing any offenses that could land you in a spot of bother with the cops.

It’s always best to check before you go out on the hunt, or the deer won’t be the only thing that can smell danger. But, if you have a good understanding of the law in your state, there should not be any issues.

Just remember to place the foodstuff naturally. Otherwise, the feeding deer could get very suspicious very quickly, ruining your chances of a successful kill.

Happy deer hunting, guys.

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Picture of Jack Simons

Jack Simons

Jack is a retired policeman who loves spending his free time around weapons and hunting across the state of Colorado with friends. His goal is to help newcomers find their way into the world of guns & hunting as well as review all the current best products and accessories for bow and rifle hunting.

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