To Pee, or Not to Pee?

When you gotta go, you gotta go ... but will it scare off the deer? We investigate.

by
posted on August 30, 2022
curious whitetail doe presumably ignoring the spot where a human watered a tree

The Myth: Does Human Urine Spook Deer?

The Smelly Background
Many hunters believe that peeing near your deer stand is the worst possible thing a hunter could do if he wishes to kill a buck. The theory goes like this: Deer use their noses for survival, and deer are conditioned to fear humans, therefore if deer smell human urine they will go the other way. The theory assumes that deer can distinguish human urine from animal urine. Hunters who believe this routinely carry a pee bottle to the deer stand, use it (carefully, no doubt!) then empty it only after they’ve removed themselves from the hunting area.

Of course, we all know that the best way to draw in a trophy buck is to set your bow or rifle down and then pull down your pants to take a pee, but I want to know: Does human urine scare deer?

Anecdotal Observations
A few years ago I invited a guest to hunt with me, but he only had a doe tag and not a buck tag, as he was simply interested in filling his freezer. When I walked to his stand in the late morning to pick him up for lunch, his eyes where as big as pie plates. “Oh my lord,” he said as he climbed down. “You won’t believe the size of the giant buck I saw! He had 13 points and was as wide as a yardstick!”

Calmly, I asked for the details, because I had an unfilled buck tag.

“Well,” he said, “I had just finished peeing when …”

“You did what?” I interrupted. "Where?”

“Right off the deer stand, where else?” He asked. "Anyway, I just finished peeing and I heard a noise and looked up and there was this monster buck bee-lining right for my tree! He stopped right there,” he said, as he pointed to a wet spot in the dirt, directly under his stand, “and looked around. Then he walked off!”

I looked down to the wet spot—my friend's urine that was directly under my treestand, and sure enough there was a deer track in the middle of it. The track was 3 inches long—the longest I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. The wind was blowing from the stand to the direction from which he indicated the buck had come. The facts supported the notion that the buck was actually drawn to the scent of human urine.

The Expert Opinion
Dr. James Kroll, aka Dr. Deer, is a wildlife professor at Stephen F. Austin University. He's made a career studying whitetails. His extensive research on both penned and live deer in various parts of the country corroborates the fact that deer are curious animals, and may come to investigate any new smell that’s in their territory, even human urine.

The Answer
Dr. Kroll and other experts say that in general, human urine by itself does not spook deer.

 

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