Can you Pee while Hunting Deer? Until recently most hunters have gone to great lengths to avoid having to pee or having to pee too often while hunting. Limiting fluid intake before going hunting is a popular precaution for this dilemma.
This is a result of the myth that, since deer use their noses for survival and are conditioned to fear humans, they will get spooked by human urine and run off.
Because of this myth, most hunters have carried a pee bottle to their stand. It does make sense, but only if you believe that deer can distinguish between human urine and deer urine. This theory would furthermore imply, that deer can distinguish between “friendly” urine and predator urine.
Now if you look at it that way, it does seem a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it?
Does human urine attract or deter deer?
It is when we get to how human urine affects deer that we provoke a variety of different answers and opinions. The thing is, there isn’t much scientific proof available of whether human urine attracts or deter deer.
Of course, there are two very different opinions about this. One the one hand, some hunters strongly believe that deer will not be spooked and will not run off immediately when smelling human urine.
However, as we have already said, there is another side to this – the opposing belief that urinating while hunting compromises the hunt. The fact is, if deer detect a human odor, you have lost your opportunity for a successful kill.
The biggest challenge for any hunter is obviously scent-control. And leaving behind urine is an unnecessary compromise of your hunting success, especially because that is the one thing you do have control over. The logical answer for those who feel strongly about this is to pee in a bottle.
Real Experiences of Hunters
One such interesting opinion is that of wildlife biologist and hunter, C.J. Winand. He regularly uses his boot to make a mock scrape and then urinate in it. The rationale behind his theory is simply that if a buck walks by your stand he will most probably get preoccupied with the scrape, which offers you the opportunity for a shot.
Deer are curious and will want to investigate any new or unnatural smells, odors, and scent.
Another hunter who has regularly peed on scrapes near trail cameras hasn’t noticed any specific change in behavior from deer – they have unquestionably not suddenly begin to walk toward the urine.
Another example is a hunter who explains that he has never seen a mature buck come through to investigate where a human has peed.
Many hunters share the belief that the odor of human urine will not deter deer. They will certainly notice it; mainly because they are curious, but some will choose to ignore it, while others may depart. However, it could not be said that they run off as a result of sensing danger in human urine.
More hunters than not, describe that they have never spooked a deer by peeing in front of their stands. In fact, most deer have been spotted walking right by without being bothered at all by the scent of human urine on the ground.
On one occasion, a hunter observed deer tracks right in the middle of a wet spot where his friend has peed a while ago. The friend explained he has seen a deer walking up to the urine. And since the wind was blowing from the stand in the direction of where the buck was coming from, the assumption can be made that the buck was drawn to the scent of human urine.
Those against peeing when hunting deer, base their expertise on the fact that deer have excellent instinct and especially mature bucks use it to avoid predators.
Looking at it from that perspective, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to take any chances to make your presence known.
There is one final aspect to consider in our quest to determine if human urine spook deer and that is the place where you are hunting. A small group of hunters believes that there is a difference in a deer’s reaction to human urine depending if they are on farmland or in the deep woods.
See, on farms, there are most likely always a variety of unnatural smells to which deer get used to, including human scent. When you go deeper into the woods, deer are less likely to be used to human scent and might be alarmed by it much quicker.
Although there isn’t much scientific evidence about how deer will react to the scent of human urine, it is worth discussing the information that is available.
To begin with, we know that deer urine primarily consists of approximately 95% water. The other 5% is what differentiates species, animals or humans.
What makes this important, is that it can now be assumed that deer will at least be able to recognize that it is not from another deer.
However, this does not mean that they will know it belongs to a human. They might be able to tell that something out of the ordinary or even dangerous was there, but they will not be able to associate it specifically with humans.
They will only be able to connect the smell of human urine to a human, if they follow a hunter around, watch him urinating and then go check it out immediately.
However, what will determine an immediate reaction to human urine of running off, depends on whether deer can make the assumption that the danger or threat is still present based only on smelling the urine.
Some scientists believe that deer really just don’t care about human urine because in the woods there is a vast number of different urine-scents, including those of their predators. If deer can “smell” their predator by its urine, then they will definitely be alert and unsettled 24/7.
One of the few studies that have been conducted, exposed deer to commercial buck urine, doe-in-heat urine, human urine and even new car smell over a two-week period, concluded that the amount of deer who visited all of those sites were equal.
According to Kroll, they found no difference in the number or type of deer that came to any one of the mock scrapes used in the experiment.
This outcome was expected since all deer hunters know deer are curious, extremely curious. They have to be, for the mere purpose of their own survival.
The only problem with this experiment is that there is still no proof that it was those specific odors that attracted the deer. The fact is, there are dozens of other scents out there, and since we don’t know how long deer can smell an odor after it has been left there, the prediction that it was specifically the human urine in that specific mock scrape which attracted them, can never be proved without any doubt.
To complicate matters somewhat, the avid bow hunter, John Eberhart, firmly believes that human urine will have a different effect on different types of deer. He does believe that it attracts deer but explains that mature bucks in high-pressured areas will take off in an instant when they come across anything that it out of the ordinary.
A well-known wildlife professor at Stephen F, Austin University, Dr.James Kroll makes it clear that although deer are curious animals and will definitely investigate any new odor in their vicinity, it is highly unlikely that they will be spooked by it.
We have offered you the opinions for and against peeing while hunting deer.
Taking into consideration the experiences of hunters as well as the scientific proof, we conclude that you can indeed pee in the woods while hunting deer, as long as you remember to do it with the wind in your face!
How far away can a deer smell you?
It is almost impossible to determine scientifically how far a deer can smell humans.
However, we know that a deer’s sense of smell is approximately 500 to 1000 times more intense than a human’s. This makes them “super smellers” and we can make the assumption that they will be able to smell humans from quite a distance. A good guess is probably 300-500 yards with a quarter mile as a popular estimate.
How to pee while hunting deer
For those of you who really want to go the extra mile in taking scent control to its ultimate level by not peeing in the woods, there are a few options available.
- Most hunters simply carry a pee bottle to their stand.
- If that is too messy for you, then consider The Travel John. It is a unisex “spill guard” which is attached to a plastic bag containing a fabric LIQSORB pouch.
Although this is more expensive, it is worth a try. It is easy to use as you simply pee in the bag and the polymer pouch immediately turns the urine into an odorless, biodegradable gel. This successfully prevents spills on your hands and clothes.
What makes this a good choice is that each bag can be used two or three times.
The process of standing up and urinating on the ground makes a noise which can actually spook deer even if they don’t smell it. However, with the Travel John you don’t have to stand up which tempers noise and minimizes movement.
Can you Smoke while Deer Hunting?
No scientific study has been successfully conducted to give a definite YES or NO answer to whether or not cigarette smoke scare off deer. Smoking from the stand while deer hunting is a personal choice and not a scientifically proven decision.
There is a very good reason why scientific information on this subject is not available. In order to conduct such an experiment, the area or location will have to be carefully selected. All odors – except for the cigarette smoke – will have to be eliminated.
Furthermore, there should be no movement whatsoever during the time of the experiment. In other words; there should be no other variables present except for smoking. This will be the only way to determine if it is indeed cigarette smoke that triggers deer to run off.
We can all see how that is almost impossible. Therefore, the only valid information us hunters have at hand, is our own experiences and that of fellow hunters.
Looking at the statistics of hunting forums and conversations with other hunters, it does seem as if the scale tips toward smoking receiving a thumbs-up for deer hunting.
Of course, as in any matter of dispute, there are two opposing sides describing their negative and positive experiences respectively.
One of the biggest arguments in favor of smoking while deer hunting, is that although a deer’s smell is advanced and highly developed, it can distinguish between other smells and smoke, but cannot distinguish between different types of smoke.
To learn more about deer scent control, check out our article about Deer Hunting Scent Control.
This simply means that a deer will identify the smell as smoke, which might even be familiar if we accept that it has smelled smoke from a wild fire before.
However, we cannot prove, nor accept that it will identify it as a human activity or a sign of danger.
Most hunters who have smoked in the stand and had deer take off, explain that it was because of their movement not because of them smoking.
Adding more value and credibility to this side of the coin, is the fact that Native Americans deliberately stood in the smoke from their fires just before hunting. The reason being that they believed it hides their human scent. This does make sense if we consider what efficient hunters they were.
It seems that nature also throws in an interesting phenomena to this equation. Hot air rises and since smoke is hot air, it will go upwards if not in an enclosed and ventilated area.
Smoke can literally disappear in thin air when you are out in the woods. Chances are good that it will dissipate long before deer notice it.
Then of course, there are the opposing arguments. These are hunters whose own experiences with smoking while deer hunting, proved to them that deer do bust them easier when they are smoking in the stand.
One hunters explains that he has seen more deer since leaving his cigarettes at home.
It is also argued that since the buck might smell the smoke miles away, he could have taken off without you realizing that he was initially walking in your direction. The fact is, you will never even know he took off.
Furthermore, it is a fact that animals are scared of fire and smoke. So if deer are familiar to the smell of fires and they cannot distinguish between wild fires and cigarette smoke, they will do what they are used to do in case of a fire or smoke – take off.
To smoke or not to smoke while deer hunting?
Although it does seem as if there are more arguments for smoking than against smoking while deer hunting, the safest would be not to take the risk unless you deliberately want to test the grounds yourself.
In the end you yourself should decide whether it is worth your while to risk the opportunity to miss out on a shot after months of preparing for your hunt.