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Deer Anatomy Lesson: How Buck Scent Glands Really Work

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November 01, 2013
Deer Anatomy Lesson: How Buck Scent Glands Really Work - 0

The scent industry wants you to believe that a splash of tarsal secretion will bring bucks in on a run. But a look at a deer’s endocrine system reveals a number of different scent glands, each of which can trump the tarsal for musk production.

[Click the photo for details]

Scientists have identified seven different glands that bucks possess, and here’s what we know about them.

Photo by Mark Raycroft

Today, many companies sell gland lures, promising they’ll draw bucks like moths to a flame. But hunters should understand that whitetails don’t use gland-associated odors to draw other deer to them.

“Some of the glands communicate information about a deer—they don’t really attract other deer,” says Dr. Karl V. Miller, professor of wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. “If gland odors were as attractive as some hunters think, then they would bring all the deer together in an area, and we know that doesn’t happen.”

Instead, gland odors may be interesting to bucks because rising testosterone levels make males more aggressive, curious, and territorial. To get the most from gland lures, use them to stop deer in a shooting lane or in conjunction with a decoy throughout breeding season to communicate that a new buck is in the area and ready for romance.

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