New CWD Test For Deer Urine

buck scrape dripper.jpg compressWildlife Research Center and Tink’s have partnered with CWD Evolution to fund a study on a testing protocol known as RT-QuIC, which is designed to examine deer urine for CWD contamination. This will allow manufacturers of deer and elk scents to test and verify that no CWD is detected in the urine used in their products.

According to Phil Robinson of Tink’s, “We sought out the most recognized authorities regarding CWD transmission via urine to get their opinion. We are 100% confident that our products pose no risk of spreading CWD. This test is just a confirmation of that fact.”

“Our industry is committed to the health of wild cervids and the sport of hunting,” adds Sam Burgeson of Wildlife Research Center (WRC). “This is a break-through for our industry and for all the loyal hunters that use our products.” 

Tink’s and WRC have already begun testing urine in 2019 and other companies will soon follow. Beginning in 2020, bottles of WRC and Tink’s scent will carry the “RT-QuIC Tested” logo on their labels for easy identification.

For the upcoming 2019 deer season check your hunting regulations regarding scents. While you can still carry and use deer urine in most places, 9 states require the use of synthetic scents. Both Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s offer urine-based and synthetic lures. 


BIG DEER 2019 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

full moonThis year I teamed up with Outdoor Life digital for the 8th annual BIG DEER rut guide, with specific tips on planning your hunting vacay this November. Click the above link to read the entire guide; below are some highlights:

New moon this rut cycle begins on October 27…expect deer to be most active at dawn and for 30 minutes thereafter… expect deer to be move from daylight until 9:00a.m. or so…get on stand extra early and hunt especially hard that first hour.

November 4, 2019 First-Quarter Moon: Looking back to my notes and all the research I’ve done over the years it is fact that many huge bucks are killed every year during the seeking phase of the rut November 6-10. This is always a good week to take off work and hunt.

Week of November 11, 2019: Full Moon: November 8 through 16 could be good for midday deer movement, especially if it’s cold. Movement from, say, 10 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. …spend all day in a stand, you never when a mature buck will come by.

Week of November 18, 2019 Last-Quarter Moon: deer movement should be good to great from November 19 through about 24, especially around food sources…if you are going to hunt the last hour of the day anytime this season, you should do it during the last-quarter phase.

Good luck whichever week you take off to hunt the rut!

One more thing: If you have the flexibility to wait until late October to plan your rut-hunting week do it. Study the long-range weather forecast for November, pick a cool to cold week when bucks will move best and factor in the moon advice you read here for a killer game plan.

Virginia To Hold Public Meeting On CWD–All States Should Do The Same

cwd vaThroughout the summer of 2019 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has hosted workshops on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in West Tennessee counties where the disease has been documented. Experts from the TWRA and University of Tennessee have been on hand to answer all the complex and confusing questions hunters are sure have, such as:

What exactly is CWD?

How can it impact my hunting?

I hunt the next county over from where CWD has been found, should I be worried?

Can I carry a buck carcass home I shot in another county? 

Can I use deer urine?

Can I eat the meat from a buck I shot in a CWD area?

Is deer meat possibly contaminated—can it hurt my family?

Should I have my deer tested for CWD? How and where do I do that?

When I heard earlier this summer of the TWRA holding these meetings, I applauded those deer managers for having the vision and spending the money to do this, and I asked that all state wildlife agencies do the same in regions where CWD has been documented.

Happy to report that my home state of Virginia is doing it in a new CWD zone before the 2019-20 deer season.

Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a buck legally harvested in Culpeper County during the November 2018 rut.

CWD had been documented in far northwest Virginia (Frederick and Shenandoah counties) for about 10 years, and hunters in the Northern Piedmont had been holding our collective breath that it would not spread.

But it has. The infected Culpeper buck was shot some 50 miles south, in an area that had never knowingly had a case of CWD before.

In response to the new case of CWD, the DGIF created a Disease Management Area that includes Culpeper, Madison, and Orange counties, and variety of new regulatory changes have been enacted within the area to minimize the spread of the disease.

The CWD public meeting to inform and educate hunters and the general public will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28 in the Culpeper County Administration Building, 302 N. Main St., Culpeper, VA.

I applaud my home state for doing this, and again I implore all states with a CWD problem to do the same. There is a ton of information on CWD out there, and more coming online every week. Much of it is complex and confusing, and hunters need to be educated about CWD and specific regulations for their area.

Hunters and wildlife agencies working together is the best way to fight CWD!


The Debate Over Deer Urine

synthetic scent

Earlier this summer South Carolina became the 9th state to ban the use of urine-based scents for deer hunting. In a press release, the South Carolina DNR said in part: “the department is following the lead of other states in proactively prohibiting the use of (urine) in order to minimize the potential for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) introduction into South Carolina.”

In response to this and other state bans on urine-based scents, two major scent companies—Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s, have issued this response:

The argument made by rule makers to ban these products is that they unnaturally congregate deer like bait or feed, thereby increasing interaction between animals and possibly increasing the spread of disease. While a scent set-up can effectively attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time to the benefit of a hunter, putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument.  It would cause no more congregation than using a call or decoy and is a natural occurrence of deer already in the area.

A typical deer releases about 64 oz of urine per day in good weather conditions and 42 oz in bad weather conditions which calculates to approximately 150 gallons per year.  We have never verified the frequency on camera, but our assumption is that each deer urinates on average 4 to 6 times per day.  That’s over 1,800 times per year.  The point is that deer are naturally urinating exponentially more urine in the general area already versus a hunter using 1 or 2 oz of urine that lasts a few hours to attract deer closer to his hunting location.  Even with deer lure, you still have to be in a good spot where deer already exist.  It does not bring in dozens of bucks from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might.  The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile. The animals that are attracted live and urinate all around that area already.

It is important to note that lead authors of the most commonly referenced studies on urine and CWD agree that “the risk of urine-based scents spreading CWD is virtually zero”.  See more about this at

Over the last 3 decades I have used a lot of deer urine and have hunted over a lot of corn and other feed in states where baiting is legal. As I look at this issue from this dual perspective, two valid points from the above statement jump out at me:

While a scent set-up can attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time…putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument…

(Scent) does not bring in dozens of bucks (or does) from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might. The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile.

I agree, the argument that a hunter’s use of scent can “congregate deer” does not hold water. How many times have you had 3 or 4 or 6 deer run in and stand under a scent wick? Never. Occasionally a doe or a buck will get a whiff of scent and come to a hunter’s setup—that’s why you use the stuff–but I have never seen multiple deer congregate at a urine wick or even a mock scrape for any length of time. I doubt anybody who has hunted a lot has seen it either.

On the other hand, countless times I have sat and watched 3,6 as many as 8 or 10 deer or more come to a corn or oat pile (and to a food plot or other natural food source also for that matter). Feed does congregate deer.

One hunting organization at the forefront of monitoring CWD and educating hunters says that the risk of disease transmittal through hunters’ use of deer urine is small.

In a statement, the Quality Deer Management Association said: According to current research, the risk of spreading CWD to new areas through the use of natural urine is extremely low, but it’s not zero. The accumulation of infectious materials is much higher in muscle tissue and organs than urine.

In QDMA’s view, it is far more important at this time for all hunters and wildlife agencies to focus on stopping the two most risky activities: 1) Transportation of infected deer carcasses out of CWD zones and 2) All transportation of live deer and elk.

In areas where natural urine has not been banned, we encourage hunters to only buy products from companies participating in the Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program or to use synthetic urine.

POSTSCRIPT: What it means for hunters this 2019-20 deer season:

In addition to South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have banned the possession and use real deer urine in the woods. Minnesota and Pennsylvania have implemented bans on urine scents in CWD management zones. A statewide ban on deer/elk urine goes into effect January 1, 2020 in Oregon.

If you plan to carry and use scents to attract bucks in any of these states you must use a manufactured scent. Wildlife Research Center makes 8 varieties of synthetic scent that I use and trust.

A last big thing to remember: In this age of CWD, the days of shooting a buck, loading the carcass in your truck and driving across a state line are virtually gone. If you plan to travel to hunt this fall, even if it’s just 10 miles across a state line, it is imperative that you read and know your state’s regulations on transporting deer and deer parts.



Deer Antlers August: How Much More Will They Grow?

2018 blanytyre dropIn early August velvet antlers begin to morph from soft and pliable to hardened bone. “A buck’s antlers will change from looking swollen or bulbous at the tips of the tines to a more normal diameter,” Missouri biologist Grant Woods told me. “Once this change in appearance occurs the buck won’t add much beam or tine growth.”

By mid-August most of the antler growth for the year is done. Sometime between September 1 and 15 bucks will shed velvet. The cue for antler hardening and velvet shedding is the change in photo-period caused by decreasing daylight and increasing darkness, which results in a significant increase in the bucks’ testosterone.

Velvet shedding typically takes only a couple of hours, though it is not uncommon to see a deer walking around for day or two with bloody velvet tatters. One last thing you might not know: Bucks have been known to turn their heads and peel or even eat dry velvet that dangles off their new racks.

Soon after shedding, the tree rubbing and antler-polishing begin. With their new crowns gleaming, mature bucks are ready and willing to breed the does for the next 3-4 months, until their testosterone begins to fade and the fascinating antler cycle begins all over again.