By Josh Lantz
Deer pee. It’s the only scent product many deer hunters use. But a variety of urine products are available, and knowing what to use and when is the key to unlocking the full potential of this liquid gold.
The correct product used at the proper time will put deer at ease and pique their curiosity – a condition that can lead to a successful hunt. The wrong ones, however, create an unnatural, olfactory alarm that puts deer on high alert and may cause them to avoid or even flee your hunting area.
Deer Urine Basics
Whitetail deer urine products come in a variety of formulations. This article covers the three most basic – doe urine (non-estrous), estrous doe urine, and dominant buck urine – as well as when, where and how to use them.
These products come packaged in different ways for alternative delivery methods. Some are designed to hang and drip, releasing product slowly. These are great options for keeping real scrapes or hunter-created mock-scrapes fresh. Others come in standard bottles or bags designed to administer product directly or via scent wicks that are dipped and hung from a branch near one’s hunting site or dragged from a hunter’s boot to create a scent trail. Aerosol bombs create a fine mist of atomized product that becomes airborne and is dispersed downwind. Choose the packaging type that best meets your needs, but pay close attention to the lid or cap. The last thing a hunter wants is smelly deer urine leaking inside his or her hunting pack.
Deer are largely relaxed during the early part of the hunting season. They aren’t interested in breeding and follow fairly regular bedding, feeding and travel routines. Daily deer movements are short, primarily limited to travel between bedding and nearby feeding and watering locations. Mature bucks will create and maintain rubs along these routes, which are intended as territorial signposts to other bucks.
Scent drippers are designed to hang and drip, releasing product slowly. Dominant buck urine can be highly effective from the early season through the rut period.
Avoid the use of any estrous doe urine products during the early season. It’s an unnatural scent at that time and is more likely to cause alert than intrigue.
Basic doe urine, however, is an effective cover and curiosity scent during the early season. While it may not draw deer to a hunting site, it’s a natural smell that can calm and reassure any deer passing nearby, and may cause them to investigate and linger. Drippers and wicks, as well as squirting products, are all effective delivery systems.
Dominant buck urine is often overlooked by early-season hunters, but can be very effective for bringing bucks within bow range. All deer are curious, and the scent of a mature buck in another’s core area provides definite cause for full investigation. Dominant buck urine deployed via boot drags, wicks, drippers and aerosols can be a deadly tool at this time of year, as it appeals to a mature buck’s need to investigate his competition.
The pre-rut period kicks in as days get shorter and temperatures start to drop. These cooler conditions allow deer to travel longer and more frequently. Does aren’t quite ready to breed, but the bucks are growing decidedly anxious. They begin getting serious about making scrapes, and may patrol them for clues with the ire and intensity of a psychopathic ex-boyfriend.
Hunters should use deer urine scent strategies during the pre-rut similar to those employed during the early season. Stick with basic, non-estrous deer urine to instill confidence in passing deer and dominant buck urine to create intrigue and attraction.
Wildgame Innovations offers handy squirt packages containing 3 ounces of dominant buck urine or estrous doe urine with neat, leak-free, one-way silicone control valves for controlled application of product onto limbs, scrapes or scent lures.
Hunters enjoy two primary benefits during the pre-rut period that weren’t in play throughout the early season. Deer are moving more frequently and may be ranging farther, while an abundance of scrapes provides hunters with focused areas of deer activity on which to concentrate.
Mature bucks typically use their own trails, generally downwind and parallel to the main trails used by does and young bucks. Active scrapes along a mature buck’s trail are superb pre-rut hunting locations – especially when located near intersections with other trails, funnels or other natural pinch points. Urine products like Wildgame Innovations’ Dominant Buck Dripper are ideal for keeping these scrapes fresh, thereby challenging a mature whitetail’s dominance and possibly causing him to investigate more frequently. Unfortunately, it doesn’t ensure he’ll visit during hunting or even daylight hours. That’s why savvy pre-rut hunters take things a step further, deploying an aerosol product like Wildgame Innovations’ Dominant Buck Bomb while on-stand. This airborne delivery system carries the apparent scent of an unwelcomed intruder far downwind, where it may catch the nose of an attentive buck sticking close to his scrapes.
The rut begins when does start coming into estrous and the bucks begin chasing. At this point, a hunter’s best strategy is to hunt areas that have the highest concentrations of does.
Now is the time to unleash a high-quality estrous doe urine.
Deploy ample quantities of estrous doe scent around your stand with drippers, squirts or bombs. Boot drags are also highly advisable, as they can lead a mature buck directly to your stand. Saturate a lure with a mixture of estrous doe urine and dominant buck urine for a one-two punchintended to pique both his excitement and anger.
Wildgame Innovations’ Wild Estrous and Dominant Buck urine products all feature the enhanced attracting power of Glo-Cote — an ultraviolet 360-degree visual queue that deer can see day or night. Wildgame Innovations claims that exhaustive field testing has shown that attractant sites treated with Glo-Cote are 180 times more likely to be discovered by animals. Additionally, these treated sites are typically discovered and frequented within 24 hours of application and receive significantly greater traffic and usage when compared to untreated sites and products.
When bucks stop chasing, it’s a sign that does are no longer in estrous. Bucks that have expended valuable energy during the rut may appear run-down and will feed heavily on waste grain or other available food sources to regain body mass before the winter hardship period begins. At this point in the hunting season, it’s best to revert to basic doe urine as a cover scent.
The use of dominant buck urine during the post-rut period can be risky. While a true boss buck may still come to investigate the scent, bucks – even giants – may be more likely to avoid any possible confrontation at all, having just endured the significant physical demands of prolonged chasing, breeding and fighting. Many experienced hunters avoid dominant buck urine or tarsal gland products during the post-rut for this reason.
Don’t put the estrous doe urine away just yet. Some does will come back into estrous approximately four weeks after the peak of the primary rut. Hunters should watch both their calendars and deer behavior closely, and be ready to deploy estrous doe urine if the conditions are right.
One of the great joys of hunting – or any outdoor pursuit, for that matter – is learning. And one of hunting’s great truths is that nothing works all the time. Effective scent strategy is a powerful tool that deer hunters can learn and use – independently or in combination with other productive and exciting techniques like calling and decoying – to coax deer within range.
Follow the basic deer urine tips outlined herein, experiment with different products, and record your own observations from the field to become a more effective hunter and enhance your deer hunting experience.
Mature bucks have one thing on their minds during the rut. Once bucks start chasing does, use ample quantities of estrous doe urine around your stand. Boot drags can also be highly effective, and may lead a buck right into your shooting lane.