Rob M. from Missouri writes to ask about deer urine. "I am getting mixed messages about deer urine. One place I read that deer use urine to communicate with one another, but in another place I read that bucks came to scrapes with human urine in them. What should I be using this fall?"
Rob, it turns out that there is a lot we don't know about urine. Hmm. Anyway, you are right. There is one major study that showed that bucks went to mock scrapes with human urine in them almost as often as they went to hot doe urine or buck urine. So much for the myth that human urine scares deer! In fact, Charles Alsheimer, noted whitetail author and photographer, taught me years ago that urinating in scrapes, or creating mock scrapes near your stand and using your own urine there, will attract bucks.
It's something that's easy to do, especially as you leave your stand after a long sit. It can't hurt, and may help. You are also right about deer communicating via urine, but we don't know much about how they do it. At one time biologists felt that bucks licked the urine from a hot doe, or smelled the urine from a hot doe who urinated in a scrape, to tell whether she was in estrous.
Now biologists don't think that bucks need to taste or smell hot doe urine to determine estrous. But, as we hunters all know, doe or buck urine definitely can trigger reactions from other bucks and does, so something is going on there. We just don't know the details. And when you think about it, the fact that there are always new things to learn and see, is one of the major reasons deer hunting is such a challenge, and something we love to do!
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com's content at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He's also an outdoor writer and has been with "Bowhunter" magazine for 31 years.