The reason for large muzzles on a white-tailed deer | News, Sports, Jobs
Of all the senses a white-tailed deer possesses, its nose is often the one that arouses the most interest, and for good reason. A whitetail deer’s nose is outwardly its greatest feature, which is why it gets the most press, so to speak.
The average deer has about 290 million – plus or minus a million – olfactory receptors. Smell is the deer’s ultimate superpower, superior even to its hearing and sight. Although these large ears give them an advantage in sound pick-up, the deer’s hearing range is similar to that of a human. Therefore, it is nowhere near as powerful as their sense of smell. Estimates indicate that a white-tailed deer can detect human scent for up to 10 days after departing.
What makes a deer’s sense of smell so elite? First consider the inside of a deer’s nose. It contains hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of nerve cells. In fact, there are probably thousands of groups of cells in the nose, and each group can detect an odor. This means that a deer has a group of cells in its nose that can detect acorns, and others that detect alfalfa, corn, certain twigs, leaf litter, and dogs. There are nerve cells dedicated to detecting other deer, human deodorant, gasoline on gloves, etc.
You name the scent, and a deer has a group of cells located in a small region of the nose that can smell that scent.
Once that scent reaches those receptor cells, it triggers an area of the deer’s brain. For example, when a deer smells an acorn, it activates acorn nerve cells in the nose and this then sends a message to a part of the brain that leads to a pattern of behavior. Therein lies the key to how deer catch you. If a young deer has a bad experience with a dog, a pattern of behavior is created in that deer’s brain. The next time the deer smells a dog, the deer runs away. But if that deer grows up in a park where there’s no hunting and people walk their dogs on leashes all the time, the scent of a dog probably won’t trigger the same negative reaction.
Let’s take a look at this way, which many of us can relate to. If a deer is growing up in an urban environment, scents it smells related to humans will not trigger a negative response. But if that deer first smells a human scent in the wild and the initial encounter was negative, then the moment the deer smells the same human scent again, it runs away.
Let’s put this into perspective. Just as rabbit hunters know how much a dog can smell and what it can smell, it can help us better understand what we face with a whitetail deer’s nose and the ability of a deer to smell. The reason this information is important is because you need to realize that a white-tailed deer’s sense of smell is almost a third better than that of a canine or a dog.
Smell is the dog’s dominant sense, which is why we can assume that a whitetail deer’s sense of smell is also the dominant sense. So much so that a large part of his brain is devoted to the analysis of odors. Dogs and white-tailed deer have two giant olfactory bulbs attached to their brains that decode every smell they encounter. The bulbs weigh about 60 grams, four times more than human olfactory bulbs. Given that a canine brain is 1/10th the size of a human, that means the canine brain has 40 times more of its brain devoted to smell than we do, and the deer’s sense of smell of Virginie is far superior to that.
It’s no wonder, then, that a dog’s sense of smell is considered so superior to a human’s. In tests, dogs have been able to pick up chemical solutions that make up one or two parts in a trillion. That’s like smelling a rotten apple in two billion barrels. This is relative to a whitetail deer’s sense of smell, as some hunters believe they can cover their human scent with camouflage scents.
If the white-tailed deer can smell better than a dog, even a dog can detect different smells in the same area, at the rate of two parts to a trillion. I don’t mean to hurt the feelings of whitetail deer makers, but you can’t mask your human whitetail deer scent, you can only try to control it.
The source of the dog’s and white-tailed deer’s exceptional sense of smell is its moist muzzle. The moist, leathery surface of the muzzle acts like Velcro, capturing even the smallest scent molecules and then dissolving them so the dog’s internal scent receptor cells can analyze them properly. To keep their nose moist, a dog must produce a constant supply of mucus through their nasal cavities. Scientists estimate that the average dog produces a pint of this mucus every day, and a white-tailed deer produces even more.
Dogs can really smell fear. If a dog walks into a room that a frightened dog has just walked out of, it will appear anxious and agitated. This is not, as many claim, some sort of ESP-like response. It is caused by an odor, an alarm pheromone, which is produced by the anal glands of frightened dogs.
We understand that a whitetail deer’s nose is so large that the animal can sense emotion. That’s why if you’ve ever seen a whitetail deer come in that hasn’t seen you, you’re high in the air, don’t move, and then suddenly the deer is staring at you like it has a sixth sense. It’s very possible that the white-tailed deer can sense your emotions to some degree. Snicker all you want, but we have a lot more to learn about the white-tailed deer’s sense of smell.
Dogs can detect scents up to 40 feet underground, so deer can detect them even deeper than that depth. They have been used to detect leaky gas lines. They can also smell insects embedded in the floor or woodwork. In the United States, dogs are used to detect termite infestations. Dogs can also pick up the slightest scent from other creatures.
Dogs can smell human fingerprints that are a week old. If dogs can do this, then you must know that a whitetail deer’s ability to smell human scent must be much greater. That’s why you shouldn’t check hunting cameras all the time or keep wandering around your hunting area out of sheer curiosity. Estimates indicate that a white-tailed deer can detect human scent for up to 10 days after departing.
Dogs’ noses are so sensitive that they can even smell electricity. In an experiment, a researcher discovered that a dog could sense which of the two compartments contained an electric current. He concluded that it was because the charge caused the release of small amounts of ozone that the dog could detect. Now, we can also assume that while a whitetail deer’s sense of smell is much more advanced than a dog’s, that whitetail deer can sense objects such as electricity. Are you beginning to understand what you’re up against when trying to figure out just how great a deer’s sense of smell must really be?
Dogs and white-tailed deer can tell from the smell of a cow’s urine if she is in estrus or in heat. Farmers train dogs to do this so they know the best time to introduce a bull for breeding.
Dogs react in different ways to different smells. In tests, for example, dogs have been found to relax when the aroma of lavender is introduced into their environment. Chamomile also makes dogs calmer. Perhaps at some point, whitetail deer hunting will figure out what smells make the whitetail deer calmer so that we can hunt them more easily. Rosemary and peppermint, on the other hand, make dogs more excited.
When it comes to dogs and whitetail deer, all humans have a unique scent. They can select people based on the body and other scents they project. Scientists think the only way a dog could not tell two people apart would be if they were identical twins with an identical diet. The twins should also keep quiet.
Therefore, think about this. The deer you are hunting may know the difference between the smell of the farmer working in the field who poses no threat to him, and you, the hunter looking to kill him. That’s why often when I’m hunting in an area where cattle are around, I’ll deliberately walk into a big, cold, unpleasant cow pie.
Let’s go a little further with the white-tailed deer’s ability to smell. If you are the hunter who wears blanket scents, be aware that white-tailed deer likely associate your blanket scents with those of a predator.
As a result, dogs can track human scents over long distances. Scientists believe they can detect the difference in scents of different footprints to determine which direction their prey is heading. They can do this 20 minutes after a person has passed even if the prints are made only one second apart. If this is true then again with the white tailed deer having a more developed sense of smell it is very possible that the white tailed deer can sense which way you are heading and avoid you by going the other meaning. Laugh all you want, but it’s that kind of knowledge that puts the trophy deer on the wall. You need to understand the white-tailed deer’s sense of smell.
Honestly, there is no way to reduce human odor 100%. In a mirage of products that really don’t help whitetail deer hunters, it’s hard to understand what deer hunters can do to avoid being smelled by whitetail deer. After all the smoke clears, only four tools are available to minimize detection by white-tailed deer due to their keen sense of smell. We’ll talk about all four to help you land a trophy male. They include silver ion clothing technology, wind play, stand height and products that help keep you clean so you can stack the odds in your favor. Because the white-tailed deer’s sense of smell is acute and must be treated with honesty and frankness.
The best way to avoid the white-tailed deer’s sense of smell is to “play the wind.” This means in a nutshell that the hunter always hunts and approaches a hunting area from a direction where the wind does not bring human scent to where he believes the deer are positioned.
Never hunt when the wind is bad, even just a few degrees. It’s tempting to take every opportunity to get away from work and hunt, but resist the temptation to go anyway. All it takes is a good sniff at close range and a mature male will abandon not only his movement pattern, but the immediate vicinity, perhaps for the entire season.
Deer use their noses to survive every day, 24/7/365. As hunters, we spend very little time in the white-tailed deer world. When trying to beat a deer’s nose, no matter adult buck or yearling doe, chase the wind. Use the wind to your advantage, don’t push it. If the wind is not good, change your configuration. None of us want to be blown away and see that white flag fly away.