You’ll never forget the first time you see a urine-based deer lure work its magic. For sure, it’s a sight to see.
I recall walking in to a stand as a bowhunting neophyte some 25 years ago, aimlessly squirting a bottle of doe-in-heat urine along my path. I gave no thought to imitating the natural walk of a deer. I just squirted streams from side to side.
Whether you’re doctoring up a scrape or laying down a scent trail to lead bucks past your stand, urine-based lures can tip the odds in your favor.
About 2 hours after climbing up my tree, I spotted an 8-point buck following my trail. So I grabbed my bow and prepared for a shot. I kept swiveling from side to side in my stand because the buck came towards me moving to his left, then his right, then back again. It wasn’t until many hours after I shot the deer that I realized he was following my squirts, which took him on a zig-zagging path to 10 yards from my tree. That’s where I arrowed him.
Not exactly text book, but, hey, it worked, and I’ve been hooked on deer urine ever since.
The rut is on across North America, and so it’s prime time for urine-based scents. Not all urine lures are created equal, and it’s a good idea to know what to look out for, what to use and when to use it.
Before we get into some different types of urine, let’s get something clear right up front. Before I use any urine lure, the first thing I do is give it a sniff. And if I catch even a hint of ammonia, that bottle is going straight in the trash.
Lures that use real urine can break down and spoil. I’ve even detected an ammonia smell in brand new bottles that have never been opened. Even with the best preservatives, urine can go skunky. That’s stuff I don’t want on the ground anywhere near where I hunt. Do yourself a favor, and make sure whatever you use passes your own smell test.
All of the mass-produced deer urine you see in cardboard and plastic packaging hanging on shelves in big-box and other stores is going to have preservatives mixed in. It has to. Now these companies testify those preservatives don’t detract from the quality of the urine, and I’ve had enough success with them to say that they certainly work at least some of the time.
But then there are the urines primarily sold only at hunting supply stores, which are kept refrigerated. These typically are fresh-packaged urines that contain no preservatives. The refrigeration is what keeps them fresh. If you’re afraid of preservatives killing the effectiveness of urine, then this is the way to go for you.
There are four basic types of deer urine lures – non-rutting buck, rutting buck, doe in estrus and non-estrus doe. You can use them in conjunction with one another or individually, depending on the stage of the rut and how much impact you want to have on the environment. Remember, whatever you put down will be there long after you’re gone, so, while you might not be out there after a stretch in the stand, your scents will.
The crew at Tink’s have made using deer urine super clean and easy with their Hot Shot options for easy application.
The non-rutting buck urine is a good choice for the early and late season. Bucks are always curious about new residents, and so they’re likely to investigate the scent of a buck they don’t recognize. But since we’re in the rut now, I wouldn’t use this stuff at this time.
Rutting buck urine is collected from bucks during the peak rut, when their hormones are raging. Often, it’s mixed with secretions taken from tarsal glands, since rutting bucks urinate over their own tarsal glands when marking their territory.
Deer communicate through bodily secretions, such as urine. The urine of a buck in rut lets other deer in the area know his social and sexual status. A dominant buck is going to view the scent of another rutting buck as a challenge to his status. When you use buck-in-rut urine, that’s what you’re doing. You’re challenging other bucks.
Try sprinkling some into a fresh scrape near your stand. If it works right, this is not a once-and-done trick. The buck that made the scrape might not come by while you’re in your stand, but you want him to get angry at your intrusion, and push him to check that scrape more frequently. That increases your odds of crossing paths with him.
You can also hang a scent wick soaked with buck urine near your stand and upwind from an area where you suspect bucks will walk. As they catch the scent, hopefully they will come closer to investigate, and possibly present a shot.
The urine of a doe in estrus is probably the most-used of all the deer urines. It contains the estrogen hormones secreted when a doe is in heat. Hopefully, a buck in rut gets a whiff of this stuff, and comes to you on a string, trying to find the lady in heat. This is a great lure to use to create a scent trail. Soak a rag with some doe-in-estrus urine and drag the rag behind you to your stand.
Don’t forget to freshen the rag as you go, because the buck is going to follow the trail to its strongest point. And unless you freshen the rag, that will take him back to your truck. Once I get to my stand, I like to hang that rag within 20 yards of my tree in a spot where I have a clear shot. I can’t count how many bucks that have followed my trail right to the rag.
The non-estrus doe urine is a good scent to use anytime. I’ll put pads on the bottoms of my boots and douse them with non-estrus doe urine. It seems to have a calming effect on deer, and it helps to cover my own tracks. It’s not really an attractant or lure, but rather, it’s just a scent that fools deer into thinking there are others around.
We have to talk about synthetic deer urine because it just might be the wave of the future. Due to fears about spreading Chronic Wasting Disease, more and more states are at least considering banning urine-based deer lures, and allowing only synthetic products. Virginia made the switch this year, and Pennsylvania is
Tink’s #69 has been around longer than many of the hunters that use it. It’s time tested. The stuff works!
weighing a ban right now.
The synthetic lures smell like urine, but they actually contain no animal byproducts whatsoever. They are completely man-made. To us, they smell like the real deal. To deer? Well, some hunters say they work just fine, while others say the deer know the difference. But heck, there are hunters who say wily bucks can even sniff the difference between real bottled deer urine and urine that came directly out of a doe before it hit the ground.
Tink’s is one company that makes synthetic doe-in-estrus, non-estrus and rutting buck urine imitators. Some hunters swear by them, claiming that real urine breaks down over time, or has unnatural preservatives added that kill the true “flavor” of the urine. The synthetics, they say, can be tightly controlled and meticulously reproduced because they’re man-made. And in those places where real urine is outlawed, synthetics are the only legal game in town.
There’s no question deer urine can be an effective tool that will help you get the drop on a big, mature buck. But you must use the right stuff at the right time in the right place.