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 www.cwdfacts.org

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.

 

 

7 thoughts on “The Debate Over Deer Urine

  1. I personally think that mineral sites are a more likely spot for CWD to be spread than urine based scents, but I personally think that until we have more knowledge, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ban both year round. Same thing goes for liquid baits, corn piles, and anything else used to try and congregate deer not only near stand sites, but around cameras as well.

  2. I wondered when someone would get around to mentioning how often a deer urinates naturally during each day, add to that a dozen deer living on 200 acres . Let us be fair an use the number of 50 oz per day per deer multiply that by the 12 deer living on your 200 acres, 50×12=600 oz or 4.5 liquid gallons per day x 365 days=1642.5 gallons per year by that little group of deer in the back pasture. And the powers to be are worried because I use10 oz at the most in a year. Sorry but I’m not going to stop using natural urine based scents on that logic.

  3. a buck comes to a urine scent by smelling the particles drifting in the air, nothing at all like bait or minerals that do without a fact congregate deer in a spot where they bury their noses in the stuff.

  4. Mike funny you should mention Peensylvania in your post are you aware it is legal to feed deer statewide in Pa. but not bait them to hunt. Apparently in the eyes of the PGC there is a difference though it seems illogical to everyone but the PGC…. UNLESS YOU PURCHASE A BAITING PERMIT FROM THE PGC.
    That begs the question just how serious is the PGC about stopping CWD?

  5. Just another knee jerk reaction being made without the use of evidence based research. The thing I’ve never understood is why allow retailers to continue to sell these products. Is it that the states can make more money through sales tax from the retailers and from fines from hunters who are caught using either bait or natural scents? Ive seldom used commercial scents but have for at least 30 years collected urine and tarsal glands from harvested deer both estrous does and bucks. Now ive lost one of the best tools in my belt.

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