We’ve all had that situation where we’ve been out on the field and felt that much-feared pressure in our bladder. Peeing on a hunt is largely considered a gigantic no-no when it comes to serious hunting. We’ve all heard the myths, but does human urine spook deer?
When we really get into it, there are a lot of differing opinions on whether or not the myths are true. In fact, some people even think that their own urine has a tactical use on the field. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that human urine may spook deer and some of the reasons that it might not.
The Facts About Urine
Both humans and animals urinate, it’s a part of nature. However, there are several differences in the urine left by hunters and the urine that is left by specific animals. While urine is always going to be about 95% water, the remaining 5% is made up of many compounds that may be unique not just in different species, but in different individuals of those species.
There are about 100 unique compounds that are found in doe urine. While many of these compounds are shared with urine from other creatures, many of them are unique, as well. Buck’s urine is similarly unique from buck to buck.
Traditionally, urine is made up of urea, ammonia, potassium, sodium chloride, creatinine, and a host of other compounds1. The fact that humans are omnivores and deer are herbivores accounts for a very large difference in their urine. A deer can certainly tell when it is faced with urine that doesn’t come from another deer.
Urine and Deer
Deer urine contains specific pheromones, hormones, and other chemicals that are unique to their species. Like many animals, deer are believed to use urine at least to some degree as a means of communication1. This another way you can be sure that deer are getting some message from your urine, even if that message is that there is no message at all.
In research, urine conveys a great deal of information to interested parties that can discern it. Scientifically, you can tell the approximate age, gender, and health of a living creature through the examination of their urine. It is open for debate just how much deer can tell from urine by utilizing their sense of smell, though we certainly have a few ideas.
Can Deer Tell the Difference?
It is generally believed that deer can tell when urine didn’t come from another deer. However, most people believe that deer are not very likely to know specifically that urine is human unless they see a human being leave it. If there are other familiar human scents around the urine, that may be another clue for them that urine has something to do with humans.
There is a possibility that deer might have some sense that the urine has been left by an omnivore, or partial meat eater, as compared to a fellow herbivore. This would clue deer into the fact that the urine was left by a potential predator. However, there is little evidence of this.
One study was done that measured the effect of doe urine, buck urine, human urine, and artificial scents on bucks. The scents were placed around bucks and the attraction was measured for the results. As it turned out, human urine was more attractive to the bucks than the artificial scents and the buck urine, and only beat out by the doe urine.
Still, even in this instance, the effect of human urine was more neutral than positive or negative. It was simply less off-putting than the chemical smell or the smell of buck urine. Surely, a buck isn’t all that interested in sniffing another buck’s urine, not much gained from this insight.
Does human urine spook deer?
The basics of hunting traditionally tell you to mask your scent as much as possible. This is a given and a huge part of the sport. However, it would seem that when nature calls, relieving your bladder will likely have little to no effect on deer in the area.
If you’re really worried, carrying along a pee bottle with your hunting gear will guarantee that no urine scent stays on the field. If you’re a purist, this may be the way to go. If you’re afraid of bottles, you can simply be dehydrated for the day and wait until it’s time to go back to camp to start drinking and peeing again.
Can human urine give you an advantage on the field?
Now, this is where things get weird… there are those who believe that peeing on the field can actually attract deer. This is not really because deer are attracted to the scent of human urine, but just because they’re curious about any new smells and are not inherently afraid of human urine. A deer may simply sniff out something unique and want to go check out what it is so long as they don’t feel there’s any danger.
Many hunters will make “mock scrapes”, which means they’ll imitate a deer scrape and pee on it to attract curious deer. They believe this is a good way, along with calling, to attract deer to the area so that they can get a good shot. While it seems counter-intuitive, many hunters swear by it, and you can’t argue that it’s not an interesting tactic.
Obey Nature's Call
So, while it’s open for debate whether human urine is beneficial for hunting, most conventional wisdom seems to go against the old adage that you should hold it in. Hydration is important for keeping your senses sharp when out on the hunt, so your best to drink all the water you want and let it go when it needs to. For all intents and purposes, it seems like deer being spooked by human urine is a myth, and you shouldn’t pay it too much mind.