The Whitetail deer is equipped with a potent scent gland on the interior of its hind legs known as the Tarsal Gland. Bucks, does, and fawns will urinate down their legs and their tarsal glands. The urine mixes with the oil secretions of the gland adding to the deer’s scent signature.
I was always taught to remove the glands immediately prior to skinning to avoid “tainting” the meat. According to the QDMA, that is just an old wives tale. Even so, I plan to continue to remove them for another purpose. My tip for you is to utilize the removed tarsal glands from a harvested deer to your advantage as an attractant and cover scent. The odor from the glands is both pungent enough to aid in the masking of your scent and familiar to the remaining deer in your area. Its familiarity seems to prevent deer from becoming alarmed. When using the glands in an area other than where the donor deer was harvested, the scent appears to raise the curiosity of the local deer as they come in to check out the newcomer to the neighborhood.
To remove the glands, pull the hair either above or below the darkened area on the deer’s leg up so to raise the skin from the muscle tissue. Insert your knife just below the skin and cut the gland out in a single piece and repeat the process for the other gland. Then punch a hole through the edge of both glands or the adjacent skin (a 16d nail works fine for this) and thread a 12″ length of twine through, tieing it off. Place the glands in a zip-lock bag for transport.
I prefer to hang the glands from a tree branch about 20 yards up wind from my position. This will allow the scent from the glands to cover your own and give you a yardage marker that will save you a last second check with a rangefinder. Don’t worry, you won’t be smelling it all night unless you are hunting from the ground or your treestand is low and downslope. Then you may need to rethink your deployment.
I have also used them as scent drag behind my boots to cover my scent in and out of my stand locations and to bring a trailing buck into a shooting lane with success.
I have used removed tarsal glands in both situations with tremendous success and I recommend you give it a try.
Note: As CWD and other deer diseases spread, certain states have banned the use of natural deer attractants containing bodily fluids as a precautionary move to stem the spread. Always check your state’s DNR reg’s prior to use of scents and attractants to ensure their legality.