Hunt Science: Do Whitetail Bucks Really Use Seven Scent Glands?

There’s seven glands examined here. None more important to a hunter than the forehead gland. And then there’s No. 4. It’s about toe glands.

Hunt Science: Do Whitetail Bucks Really Use Seven Scent Glands?

Did you know that whitetail bucks have seven different scent glands that may or may not be important to you as a deer hunter? They include the following:

Understanding Deer Scent Glands

  1. screen_shot_2017-02-03_at_9-27-12_amTarsal Gland: This gland is located at the knee, on the inside of the rear legs. It’s a sebaceous gland, meaning it secretes a fatty lipid. Though deer hunters associate the tarsal gland with a strong odor, it is odorless. At least until a rutting buck urinates on them. When the urine begins to decompose, each buck then has a unique odor used in the world of whitetails somewhat like an ID card. Bucks also rub-urinate on their tarsal gland year-round, but do so more frequently during the rut.
  2. Metatarsal Gland: Located on the outside of the lower portion of each rear leg, this odorless gland is larger in deer the farther north you go. No one is sure exactly what the metatarsal gland does, but some speculate it has something to do with body-temperature regulation.
  3. Preputial Gland: This small gland is located inside the penile sheath itself and lubricates the sheath. It has nothing to do with communication between deer.
  4. Interdigital Gland: Located between the toes of each front hoof, these smelly glands produce a series of chemicals that disperse at different rates. It’s believed this odor helps deer determine when and where another buck has walked a route.
  5. Nasal Gland: This gland serves to lubricate the nasal passages, which helps a deer both breathe and smell better. The nasal gland is odorless.
  6. Preorbital Gland: Located at the base of the eyes, each preorbital gland lubricates the eye and releases a faint scent.
  7. Forehead Gland: This is a very important glad during the rut. It is located on a buck’s brow between the antler pedicles. It is believed to help deer communicate many things, including a buck’s age and whether or not it is ready to breed. This scent is spread throughout the woods every time a buck rubs a tree trunk or the licking branch above a scrape.

Related: Does Human Urine Scare Deer?

If you like this piece, check out more like it at Whitetail Journal. You can also subscribe to the print edition to enjoy exclusive articles and other information you won’t find online.



Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.