We still don’t know exactly how much information whitetails get from urine scents.
QUESTION: There are so many brands and types of doe in heat scent. Does one work better than others? Do deer smell different from region to region? For example, will an off-the-shelf doe in estrus scent work the same in Wyoming as it would in Illinois? Do you have any suggestions when picking a brand/type? – Greg P.
ANSWER: I’m afraid I probably can’t give you the answers you’re looking for. We know that a deer’s sense of smell is very good; we just don’t know how good. It’s reasonable to assume that when a deer smells bottled deer urine, it can probably identify the odor as that of a deer. They may be able to identify other things as well.
Every deer smells a little different, and because the whitetail’s sense of smell is so acute and important in communication, it’s quite possible that, from a whiff of urine, a whitetail can identify the sex, fitness and possibly even individual identity of the deer that left it. That’s partly because those are familiar smells, and if a stranger wanders through and urinates (or a hunter pours out some doe pee), the locals may only be able to identify it as a “new” deer.
Most commercial deer scents are collected and processed under fairly rigid protocols. Scent companies do this partly to ensure the quality of their product. Those who participate in the Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program guarantee that the cervid urine used in their products comes from facilities that follow even more stringent standards to prevent the spread of CWD. As for which ones are better, that’s a bit like asking what the best caliber for deer is. You have to find what works best for you. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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