I’d just cracked open the seal on a fresh bottle of Tink’s smell good. The pungent odor drifted up out of the bottle, mixed with the crisp October air, and smacked me right in the face with a wave of first-class stench. That’s when I heard it — my buddy’s zipper. Normally, you wouldn’t think much of that. Guys take a leak outside all the time — especially out in the country. It happens. Whatever.
But we were right in front of my treestand. There was a scrape I was preparing to freshen up with some “dominant buck scent.” And I had a giant deer on camera there.
I didn’t want anybody fouling up the area with a bunch of their digested apple juice.
But it was already done. My “friend” was streaming right into the truck-hood-sized scrape that I was about to pour deer urine into.
The look of horror on my face must have been like something straight out of Scream or Signs. I couldn’t talk for a good 10 seconds. And I most certainly couldn’t (and didn't want to) watch the terrible act unfold. But the sound of the unseen scene unfolding behind me was that of pure terror.
So much for killing that deer, eh? Trail camera images of the big deer I’d never see in person floated through my mind as the unthinkable finished up. And as the shock finally faded enough that my tongue began formulating words again, my buddy turned around and said, “There ya go. No need for that deer pee now.”
I'm sure the look on my face was practically the equivalent to cussing him as I tightened the urine bottle cap back on (much tighter than it was prior to opening it).
Needless to say, we didn’t talk much on the walk back to the truck. At least, I didn’t. But he sure did. And he proceeded to tell me how great of a tactic it was to use human urine in both real and mock scrapes. He said daylight activity should increase on that mock scrape since he did that. I didn’t believe him, of course. But what did I know. I wasn’t (and still am not) a biologist. Maybe he was onto something. At least, that’s what I hoped. The trail camera would tell the tale.
I gave it about 10 days and went back to check the camera. My jaw dropped. Not only was the big deer there, but daylight activity had actually increased. Of course, my work schedule had kept me from being there to capitalize on it. But the lesson remained — it appeared that human scent really didn’t spook deer.
It’s also important to note I’m still not a biologist. And I’m in no way saying that human urine won’t spook deer. But I’ve personally not seen a deer spook due to my own. Numerous studies have shown there isn’t much difference from urine in whitetails and humans (other than color). And I pee in most of my mock scrapes now with pretty good success. So maybe my friend was right. And maybe human urine is the best (and cheapest) option for maintaining both real and fake scrapes.
I know. Many of you still can’t shake the thoughts of all the hunters who’ve ever told you peeing in the deer woods is taboo. And maybe it still is. I still know many hunters who carry pee bottles to the treestand with them. I’m no longer one of them, though. I just let it rip right there.
So, my best advice when freshening up scrapes with human urine?
Make sure your back is to the trail camera when you do.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.