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Understanding Seven Deer Glands

Research from the University of Georgia provides insight on how a deer's scent-producing glands function.

The odiferous qualities of whitetail deer come from no fewer than seven different glands scattered literally from head to toe. Researchers at the University of Georgia have tried to figure out which stink comes from what stinky gland, and what each might mean to a deer.

[1] Tarsal Gland This patch of hair and subcutaneous organs helps drive the hunting-scent industry.  Bucks urinate on the glands more frequently during the rut, and the reaction between urine, gland secretions, and bacteria produces the telltale odor. Bucks establish dominance partly through these secretions, so use the scent to key in on the big boys. Location: Inside of the hind legs.
[2] Metatarsal Gland In mule deer, it produces an alarm scent, but nothing indicates the same for whitetails. Location: Outside of the hind legs.
[3] Preputial Gland Researchers aren’t sure, but it might play a role in a rutting buck’s identifiable scent. Location: Inside the buck’s penal sheath.
[4] Interdigital gland Forty-six volatile compounds are secreted by this gland, and the varying evaporation rates mean the smell changes over time. That might help a deer age a track with its snout. Location: Between the toes.
[5] Nasal Gland Not sure. Location: Inside the nostrils.
[6] Preorbital Gland Nobody really knows. It could play a role in marking rubs. Location: In front of the deer’s eyes.
[7] Forehead Gland Marks rubs and other vegetation with the scent of a dominant, mature buck. Location: Between the eyes and the antler bases.

Comments (5)

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from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

wats this going to help with my hunting??

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from codyboyd wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

if you know where the scent comes from and how they use it you can pinpoint where and how they make scrapes. just some helpfull knowledge i guess.

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from greengiant wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

It has been awhile since WhitetailHunter706 posted his comment and it surprises me that only one person responded to his posted question. The question is streight out of the novice hunter's handbook. I'll bet he does not know much more than to climb up in a stand and watch a bait pile. If a deer comes out to eat, he shoots it and if he lucks up and makes a kill shot, he goes home bragging about how he hunted down and harvested the deer. It is a shame that people like this, who have such a total lack of respect for the sport and the game they are pursuing that they spend absolutely no time learning it's habits. Simply pour bait on the ground, sit in a stand and wait for something to bow it's head down for a meal, then shoot it and brag that they were hunting! As president of the Number 1 deer hunting club in our area, I would not even consider this man for membership

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from Huggy Bear wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

greengiant, I notice you didn't answer his question either.

I am a writer, not a deer hunter. I haven't hunted since I was a kid and when I did take down deer there were adults to help with the dressing. I didn't know much about deer other than they were tasty. However, from my research, I'm guessing the most important of the glands from a hunter's POV would be the tarsal for 2 reasons. 1) If you get stuff from it on your hands or tools you'll make the meat taste more gamy and 2) if you want real scent to attract deer in the future you harvest the tarsal gland (after you've dressed the deer) to get it.

How'd I do?

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from Dan Green wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I love to hunt.l Not very skilled at it, but I love to hunt. It seems to me that the more we know about that which we hunt gives us more skill. I agree, it doesn't seem much like hunting to place the bait and wait. Where I live, upstate SC, we are not allowed to do so. But more over, just the simple education in biology makes this simple article a good one. I do want every advantage I can get, but I want it to be a challenge as well. Knowing the use of scents by this animal helps. And to open a whole new can of worms, I believe God created us to be in dominion over the animals of the land and birds of the sky...but again, we need to do so with a modicum of rightness. Good article...

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from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

wats this going to help with my hunting??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from codyboyd wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

if you know where the scent comes from and how they use it you can pinpoint where and how they make scrapes. just some helpfull knowledge i guess.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from greengiant wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

It has been awhile since WhitetailHunter706 posted his comment and it surprises me that only one person responded to his posted question. The question is streight out of the novice hunter's handbook. I'll bet he does not know much more than to climb up in a stand and watch a bait pile. If a deer comes out to eat, he shoots it and if he lucks up and makes a kill shot, he goes home bragging about how he hunted down and harvested the deer. It is a shame that people like this, who have such a total lack of respect for the sport and the game they are pursuing that they spend absolutely no time learning it's habits. Simply pour bait on the ground, sit in a stand and wait for something to bow it's head down for a meal, then shoot it and brag that they were hunting! As president of the Number 1 deer hunting club in our area, I would not even consider this man for membership

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Huggy Bear wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

greengiant, I notice you didn't answer his question either.

I am a writer, not a deer hunter. I haven't hunted since I was a kid and when I did take down deer there were adults to help with the dressing. I didn't know much about deer other than they were tasty. However, from my research, I'm guessing the most important of the glands from a hunter's POV would be the tarsal for 2 reasons. 1) If you get stuff from it on your hands or tools you'll make the meat taste more gamy and 2) if you want real scent to attract deer in the future you harvest the tarsal gland (after you've dressed the deer) to get it.

How'd I do?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dan Green wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

I love to hunt.l Not very skilled at it, but I love to hunt. It seems to me that the more we know about that which we hunt gives us more skill. I agree, it doesn't seem much like hunting to place the bait and wait. Where I live, upstate SC, we are not allowed to do so. But more over, just the simple education in biology makes this simple article a good one. I do want every advantage I can get, but I want it to be a challenge as well. Knowing the use of scents by this animal helps. And to open a whole new can of worms, I believe God created us to be in dominion over the animals of the land and birds of the sky...but again, we need to do so with a modicum of rightness. Good article...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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