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Deer Lures and Scents – James Valley


Understanding Deer Scents and Lures

by James Valley Scents


Communication among deer and other animals evolves around the olfactory messages contained in their internal glands and urines. These messages are picked up and translated by the smell receptors in the brains of other animals.

    Animals of a species are interested in the scents/smell of another animal of the same species. Scent Messages are translated through their glandular secretions and urine. Animal glands and urine are great attractants for members of the same or different species. They trigger various reactions in the animal. Their scent can make them sexually responsive, aggressive, curious, or angry. Gland/urine scents can also replace fear and suspicion and give the animal a sense of security and confidence. Its the natural animal odor that makes these glandular secretions and urine universal attractants.


Quality urine contains water, amine acids, solids, and over 100 separate chemical compounds. There is a greater amount of amine acids and solids in adult animals of a species. Quality urine can only be collected from mature, adult animals; preferably mature animals that have gone through a mating period. Also, a greater concentration of certain chemical compounds are present during the mating period, thus changing the odor of the urine completely in some animals.

Beware of urines that are low-odor or flat. This is an indication of watered or cut urine. Also, urines that contain antifreeze are urines that are diluted at least 25%. Temperature determines the movement of odor molecules. The addition of antifreeze will not change this, only weaken the urine and make it easy to pour.

Shy away from urines that have a chemical smell to them.


Each year I get customers who write or call me and complain about their favorite hunting lure turning into ammonia.

Ammonia is an alkali gas that develops from:

1. Bacterial growth;
2. Heat;
3. Age;
4. Chemical breakdown.

Urine is a great breeding ground for bacteria. The rate of bacterial growth in urine is determined by temperature. High temps result in quicker bacteria development if the urine is not preserved. As urine ages it will also develop an ammonia smell. Ammonia will also become mornoticeable as the urines chemical compounds start to break down (if not preserved).


Urine that doesnt build a moderate (small to medium) ammonia odor is often diluted with water. This is a practice of some manufacturers who prefer to increase profits by sacrificing quality.



A urine scent with an ammonia odor isnt ruined if its a moderate amount. INTENSITY of ammonia should be the factor in determining if you trust using a particular scent/lure. A small amount of ammonia odor present will not adversely affect results. Throw away a urine lure that has a very strong, overpowering ammonia odor.

Weak urine that never develops a moderate ammonia odor is usually cut with water. (To make it go farther and increase profits to the manufacturer.) Be careful of this fact. A good thing about ammonia is the fact that it is a volatile gas and it evaporates when exposed to the air. It is important to store urines properly and to know how to get rid of ammonia problems once you have them.

The best place to store your urine lures is in your refrigerator in a zip lock bag.

They will last for many years if kept refrigerated. There is not a better place to store your urine type lures. If this isnt possible, keep them in a cool, dark place. Never store urine products in direct sunlight or keep them on the dash of your vehicle as they will be ruined in a few hours. If your urine lure or scent has developed an undesirable amount of ammonia odor, you should take the lid off and bleed off the ammonia for a few hours. Most of the ammonia should dissipate in 24 hours. Then add 1/8 tsp. table salt to each fluid ounce of urine and shake well. If you have doubts about your hunting scents and lures, I advise purchasing quality, well-handled scents from a respected, quality-minded manufacturer. If this procedure is followed, you will be able to get years of use out of your animal urine scents.

Remember to:

1. Be careful;
2. Stay clean;
3. Keep cool when using animal scents/lures.

Lure manufacturing is an art that takes many years of testing and experimentation in order to formulate lures that hold attention and attract. The best lures are fixed so ALL the ingredients blend and permeate the area when exposed to air.

Great Lures should be able to trigger more than one response in an animal in order to maximize effectiveness and your satisfaction. The more reactions a lure causes an animal to have and the more intense that response is, the better the lure is and the more opportunities you are going to have.

1) Professional trappers know quality scents. I dont know of any who buy their lures and scents at Wal-Mart. Ill suggest you might shy away from mass produced, poor quality, discount-chain-sold buck scents, also.

2) Estrous scents will attract bucks prior to the peak of the rut. Bucks are interested and will respond during the pre-rut The peak of the pre-rut is the best time to use deer attractants.

3) I feel straight doe deer urine (non-estrous) is the poorest deer scent you can use to attract bucks. I have found it gives a so what response in the many years of research that I have done. Regular, non-estrous doe urine is what most heat urine type buck lures sold today are. No wonder there is so much confusion and mixed results with hunting with scents. Straight doe urine that is labeled heat urine will not arouse sexual urges. False advertising and gimmicks have damaged the credibility of many scent manufacturers.