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To Pee, or Not to Pee?

Does human urine really spook deer? The Bullshooters decided to find out.

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, 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 friends urine that was directly under my treestand, and sure enough there was a deer track in the middle of it. The track was three 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 corroborate 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.

Please comment if you have any evidence one way or another, because it’s hunting season, and I’ve gotta go!


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29 Responses to To Pee, or Not to Pee?

Virginia Silver wrote:
November 26, 2014

I hunt exclusively out of a pop-up blind. While I do carry a 'pee bottle', and use it in the blind, when I exit the blind, I simply pour it out within a few feet of the blind. Over the last half dozen years or so, this has not kept deer from coming within gun range, and I have 5 on the wall to support that, and have harvested several others more than that. My experience in about 50 years of deer hunting is that human urine has little to no effect on whitetail deer as regards as spooking them.

OR Bobcat wrote:
August 03, 2014

About the biggest whitetail I ever saw came up behind me as I was buttoning the button fly on my military surplus camos. He was gone by the time I turned around so I've worn zippered pants ever since.

Don Butts wrote:
February 24, 2014

I was in a stand and Had to go real bad so I peed off the stand as soon as I finished a doe came running up and started licking the bushes. So I don't think it bothers them.

Joel wrote:
February 13, 2014

Seems to reason that humane urine would be no different than other animal urine like fox, coyote, cat, dog, etc. but I have to wonder why the bottled stuff has such a scent. Anyway, I am no expert, but I descent religiously because I believe (like most hunters) deer are conditioned to the scents that we as humans gather in our everyday life styles. deer get whiff of you and all the odors you carry into woods and whoosh, they are gone. But by-products like urine are not subject to gathering those same scents and are pretty sterile when exiting the human body (well unless you ate asparagus). So why would a common scent like urine found in the woods and left by all sorts of creatures bother deer. They are a curious animal and a new urine scent (that does not smell like the leather of my truck seats or the cheeseburger I dribbled on my cloths earlier) in the woods would probably peak interest rather than set off alarms. Just saying

Stuart E wrote:
February 06, 2014

At an outdoor show I asked about this very thing with a creator of a synthetic deer urine. He told me that the best call he knew was to pee from your stand. He thought they heard it and came to run the other buck off. He was convinced that all fresh urine from mammals is indistinguishable. My experience has been that mock scrapes I contributed to were hit before those those that only got commercial scent. I think the volume is the difference. I have watched deer pass spots I hit from the climbing stand without any sign of nervousness.

Luke wrote:
February 01, 2014

If you gotta go, GO! I hunt out of a climber 90[%] of the time, and when you are 28' up, there is no climbing down. I pee out of my stad every time I hunt, sometimes more than once, and my walls are not lacking in the antler department.

Daniel wrote:
January 23, 2014

Last deer season I got a 12 pt. buck who was following a big doe during rut. I have to pee all the time, so I just do so out of the stand. That doe and the buck never smelled me or my pee and both came within 30 yds. of my stand. I also had three does come right up to my stand while I was in it and never smelled me or my previously placed pee.

Guzda wrote:
January 23, 2014

I don't ever climb down to pee although I try not to. Have killed a couple nice bucks from the stand and missed a couple more. After this discussion ! Won't worry. No more Tink's or Code a Blue.

Doug Walton wrote:
January 23, 2014

This article and the comments beg the question of whether scent control is as important as it's touted to be. Despite being a bottle packer, I have been without a receptacle and gone off thestand only to have a buck vvolunteer for a freezer nap.

Doug Doty wrote:
January 23, 2014

A few years ago I was in a tree stand and had been since before sun-up and had to pee real bad. I couldn't wait any longer so I went right off the tree stand and thought 'Well, that it for my morning hunt'. Not a half hour later along comes a big doe with a respectable 8 pt, right behind her. They came from directly down-wind of my tree stand. Needless to say, he didn't go any farther. I'll never worry about peeing by my stand again.

HoytChick wrote:
January 22, 2014

Anybody think it makes a difference if its chick pee vs male? Being a huntress and a lady in general, I've found it hard not to have to 'go' from time to time when I'm in the woods. My guy hunting pals always give me crap and tell me I'm scaring all the deer away. I've peed (not off the stand of course) near my stand before and seen plenty of deer cruise by without a second thought.

Brad wrote:
January 22, 2014

I had given up on a hunt this year the last day. I had seen no deer that morning althought every morning before I had seen multiple bucks and does. I just went out of the tree and decided to enjoy the lsdt two hours of the hunt. I had a small spike hanging around, some does came in and then a 138 2/8 12 point directly under my stand where I hsd peed paying no attention! Cautious work with my recurve and the 6 1/2 year old is at the taxidermist.

Jim Goard wrote:
January 22, 2014

I sat 25 feet up all day and had only prepared for a morning sit. A few small bucks passed by but the big one in the cedars never showed. When I thought the small guys were gone I could wait no longer. From 25 feet up you make quite a wet spot! Low and behold a small 4 point came by and walked right thru the spot and even tasted some of the wet leaves. I messed with him with a grunt tube and horns and a nice 140 ten point came in from directly down wind, lip curled walked thru my urine and opened a perennial scrape. He left with punctured lungs from my Hoyt and died from his curiosity. I don't carry a bottle anymore.

South Jersey hunter wrote:
January 21, 2014

I kill 2 or 3 bucks a year with a bow at 15- 20 yards. I assure you that neither pee or skoal wintergreen spit bothers them in the least bit...

Ray wrote:
January 18, 2014

A friend found that a buck made a scrape right in the spot he peed in near where he sat. This was in the U. P. Of Mi. I have never had any fear of spooking deer by peeing near where I sat.

Johhny Squatto wrote:
December 02, 2013

How about #2?

Bow Hunter wrote:
December 02, 2013

I was hunting mule deer in Arizona. It was the last day of the hunt, pouring rain, about 1/2 hour before the end of the season. I was totally depressed, feeling sorry for myself. I had dreamed of this hunt for a year. For me it a once in a lifetime hunt. I had to go, so I did. Why not, the hunt is over right?. Wrong! 10 minutes later I looked down and there was a monster buck with his nose in my urine. The rest was easy.

Rick Garcia wrote:
November 29, 2013

I shot a nice buck last year while I was peeing. Barely got my junk back in before shooting.

Ed W wrote:
November 26, 2013

Had this happen while hunting bear in canada. Watched 2 cubs eat bait, mama bear walked right through where I had recently peed, NO response from her.

wrfchief wrote:
November 26, 2013

several years back I was hunting a hot scrape line that was made up of huge scrapes with large tracks and horn drag marks that made me think old Big Boy was around. I put buck pee in the scrapes to get his attention. you all know how expensive that stuff is so I started freshening the scrapes myself the cheap way. the third morning he came stomping in snorting and obviously upset that he had competition. needless to say a 7 Mag. calmed him down.

dbaxter wrote:
November 26, 2013

I used to be very careful about my urine, Not anymore! Meepee is one of my best weapons in my arsenal and you can't beat the price. I killed a 13 point 180lb bruiser this past weekend at 40 yds. He stopped & smelled my pee scrape & then kept coming. Make a mock scrape, take a whiz in it & put a trailcam up. You will be amazed at the activity!

Bob wrote:
November 26, 2013

While mule deer hunting one year not far from a remote camp a tree was used regularly as a pee post. Two mornings in a row i woke up to see a deer licking the tree. I suspect for the salt. One day was a doe the following day a buck. This tree was about 50 feet from the camp.

Louie F wrote:
November 26, 2013

I once watched an outdoor show where the host poured a bottle of human urine in one spot, Aqua Velva in another, and ammonia on a third spot. The 3 spots were about 15ft apart. A buck came in and sniffed each spot, and if I remember correctly, he spent just as long sniffing the human urine, as he had spent sniffing the other spots. the buck did not seem alarmed in any way.

John wrote:
November 26, 2013

I always pee at my stand, and see plenty of deer. Last week I saw a 9 pointer that came within 25 yards.

Bob wrote:
November 26, 2013

I have a friend who hunts the same stand in upstate NY every year. Every year he ends up with 3-5 deer in his freezer and an occasional one to mount on his wall. He takes his lunch, 2 thermos of coffee, and a pack of Camels with him everyday. He drinks coffee, smokes cigarettes and eats tuna salad on rye nearly everyday he's out. And rarely does he make it to the 3rd week without getting his tags filled. Deer are curious and seem to get used to things as well. He sits in that stand nearly all summer too just to scout (his term for getting away from his wife for a while). His reasoning is if they come by in the summer why change it up just because he's 'hunting'. Many of us think he's nuts but you can't argue with a full freezer.

Dave L. wrote:
November 26, 2013

I once read an article (I think it was in Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine) of a small study that used four scents: human urine, cigarette smoke, a car air freshener, and a sweaty T-shirt. If I remember correctly the results went like this... The deer didn't pay any attention to the cigarettes & pee, there was a noticable reaction to the air fresener (but not fear), and they ran from the sweaty T-shirt.

IdahoHunter wrote:
November 25, 2013

The muleys in S.W. Idaho have a shortage of salt in their diet, so pee is an attractant.

Zack Titmus wrote:
November 25, 2013

I by no means am an expert hunter but I personally have made mock scrapes using my own pee and had bucks come in and freshen them up on trail camera. I go freshen up the scrapes when I did one near my stands. Seems to work. So I'll keep doing it

South Texas Hunter wrote:
November 25, 2013

I have stood to pee and seen the 'big one' watching. Only though:, 'coincidence!' But reading the article makes me wonder. Have heard of others actually urinatung around their stand only to see bucks going ballistic at the strange scent in their territory. Worth a deeper consideration, for sure.