A Chesterfield startup has its sights set on filling a hole in the hunting market.
Buck Nut Products sells smells: cover scents for hunters and aromas that attract deer. Owners Rusty Groves, 48, and Kenny Benton, 49, run the company out of a shed behind Benton’s Midlothian home, where they brew and bottle the products.
“There’s a very high demand for this kind of thing, believe it or not, because there’s just not a lot of people doing it,” said Benton, a Chesterfield native.
Buck Nut got its start in 2008. Groves wanted to make dirt-scented soap that hunters could wash with to mask their scent. Producing the soap was expensive and difficult, so he turned to liquid cover scents and eventually deer scents.
Virginia’s hunting season corresponds with deer mating season. Hunters use deer scent made with female or male deer urine to attract bucks looking to mate or defend their territory, respectively.
“Once you use it, they’ll come right up searching for the doe, and hopefully you’ll be in the tree stand and make the shot,” Groves said, noting that there’s no guarantee the scent will attract a deer.
Groves was looking for a business partner and found one in Benton. The pair had known each other for more than 30 years and hunted together.
A friend with a deer farm in West Virginia harvests deer urine, and Groves and Benton transport it. They store it by the gallon jug in a refrigerator in the shed before mixing it with other substances in a five-gallon water cooler and hand-filling the 1.7-ounce bottles. Groves would not share what is in the concoction.
Groves and Benton can fill 100 bottles in 15 minutes, Groves said. The smell doesn’t bother them while they’re working, he said.
Including bottles, ingredients and labels, startup costs have tallied about $20,000, Groves said.
In the past year, the pair has rebuilt its website to target hunters and compete with such national competitors as Code Blue and Tinks.
Buck Nut has no plans to lease a storefront, relying instead on online sales and distribution deals.
They’ve had success locally. Green Top Sporting Goods in Ashland, Bob’s Gun Shop in Chesterfield and Dance’s Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights have agreed to stock the business’s scents, Groves said.
The deer scent will hit local shelves ahead of hunting season on August 1. The company’s website lists a 1.7-ounce bottle for $6.95.
The four cover scents (acorn, apple, dirt and pine) costs $4.95 for four ounces.