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To Pee or Not to Pee


One of the biggest debates among deer hunters is the topic of urination? Oddly enough, grown men can sit around and discuss their biological function of voiding fluids with straight faces and even heated conversations. Some will argue that urinating in the deer woods not only ruins that hunt, but will also ruins many hunts in the future as bucks can smell and identify a hunter by his urine.

Conversely, other well-known and seasoned hunters argue the contrary, that urine is urine. And while deer certainly smell it, they cannot associate it with humans.

In searching and researching, I have found no clear evidence that supports the notion that deer can determine that the urine they are smelling is coming from a human. There is little argument that the deer smell it, just as they smell the urine from a fox, raccoon, bobcat, rabbit, etc. But the arguments is can they really differentiate your urine from the urine of any other mammal? Dr. James Kroll has said on many occasions that human urine does not spook deer. And there are some studies to indicate this is the fact.

One well known hunter I know who asked not to be revealed in this story, said “I know the deer can smell it, and I don’t know they can tell if it’s a human or not. I just don’t want to run the chance.” While another states, “pee is pee and I have killed countless deer at fifteen yards after peeing from my deer stand.” And a third takes it to a different level and never, ever urinates in the deer woods. Not during season, or work days, or fun days ever! He will always use a bottle and insist that others also use a bottle or not be allowed to hunt with him. As he puts it, “I’d rather pee in a bottle and be wrong, than pee on the ground and be wrong.”

Carrying a bottle to urinate in is often cumbersome, and difficult. It can be awkward to carry and dump. And where do you pour it out? How far is far enough from your stand? Is there a specific location where all urine is deposited back at camp? What do you do when the bottle is full and your bladder has more remaining? Do you have to carry two bottles for those occasions? How big of a bottle do you carry? 16oz, 20 o, 32oz? Is there a back pack compartment dedicated to the urine bottle(s)?

Trappers will say that yes, animals can differentiate between species in urine. That is why some use fox urine, or coyote urine or raccoon urine for this set, or that set. But is there a difference between what predators can differentiate and what prey can smell? Are canines more adept at determining the source of the deposit than are whitetail deer? Can a whitetail buck really determine that a human urinated there as opposed to another animal?

There is still a lot of opinions out there that will dictate what individuals do on this subject. Science is still not convinced that one is better than the other. Hunters who choose to let it flow may be hurting their hunting. While those who use a bottle are adding more stuff to the list of important items to carry.

And we haven’t even talked about the female hunters out there. What do they do in these situations? Do they climb down and take care of business or just leave when the urge is too strong?

Perhaps for now, the best thing to do is what feels best for you and your situation. I suspect that for those who believe that human urine spooks deer, there will be no amount of convincing otherwise. While for those that do not, there is no way to convince them to use a bottle. Where ever you are, just enjoy the hunt.