Hunters are ponying up as much as $18 a vial to give themselves an edge during Minnesota's deer season.
Fantasy fulfillment can be a noble business, and even a legal one, when the women involved are deer, and the customers, deer hunters. Just ask Craig Jaworski.
The owner of a whitetail farm in Cottage Grove, Jaworski has been up late on recent nights, packaging, well, deer urine. Many of his does are in estrus, or heat, a fact their urine advertises to males of the whitetail persuasion, near and far.
Which makes Jaworski's product a highly valuable commodity on this, the eve of the state's 2008 firearms deer season.
"The doe pee business is big,'' Jaworski said. "If a hunter goes into Gander Mountain or one of the big sporting goods stores, they know where to go for doe pee. Hunters know where to find doe pee.''
That is, unless they're looking for the stuff from Ideal Whitetail Farm, Jaworski's operation.
His is packaged and sold direct, over the Internet, or at only a couple of Twin Cities archery shops, Bwana in St. Paul and Backwoods in Newport.
Price varies from business to business, but can be as much as $18 for a small vial.
Purchases other than those over the Internet go down like any other drug deal. Customers place their names on a waiting list, pony up the cash, and when a shipment comes in, phones ring.
"We sell it in real time, when the stuff is fresh,'' said John (Junior) Larsen of Bwana Archery. "Hunters come here to pick it up.''
Laying a sawbuck and change on a counter for 1.25 ounces of urine can be a difficult purchase to explain to the family back home.
And as a way to jump-start the nation's flagging economy, it's a long shot.
But urine (if it's the real thing) from a whitetail doe (not a sheep or other critter) in estrus (completing the trifecta) is worth $18 and much more if it attracts a buck, particularly a big one.
"There are no guarantees in hunting,'' Jaworski said. "But one of my customers stuffed this stuff up the butt of a doe decoy near his bow stand, and he had a 9-pointer come sniffing around.''
Such stories, of course, are legion in hunting, particularly in deer hunting, a pastime whose practitioners, when shopping, legally qualify as vulnerable adults.
Fantasy is the reason.
The 400,000 or more Minnesotans who will don blaze orange and climb into trees Saturday -- alert all day for the slightest movement -- will pass most of their time day-dreaming about wall-hanging bucks.
Yet most know they will return home with does, yearling bucks -- or, about half of them, with nothing at all.
Still, collectively, deer hunters each fall purchase hundreds of thousands of gallons of what is advertised to be doe urine -- or, at premium prices, doe in estrus urine.
But can there possibly be enough captive deer in North America to fill so many jugs?
"Because I artificially inseminate my does, the timing of when they come into estrus is important,'' Jaworski said.
To ensure his animals can be bred in October and early November, he times their cycles with drugs. This process helps ensure high pregnancy rates, and ensures as well that doe urine captured in whitetail season is from animals in estrus.
"Sunlight, age, air and temperature all work to break down urine,' Jaworski said. "I'm not saying other products on the market won't work. I don't thing there is any pee that can guarantee a result. Whether other products on the market are pure or not, I don't know. I'm not a chemist. All I know is what I do.''
Jaworski, 50, has bow-hunted since he was a teen-ager. He says scent can be distributed near a hunter's stand a variety of ways. Some hunters soak a gauze wick and drag it as they walk to their stands.
But attention to wind direction is important. Better, he says, to circle a stand first, rather than approach it directly. And hanging soaked wicks from tree branches can cast urine scent onto air currents, possibly attracting bucks from afar.
Jaworski also sells buck urine (as do many others in the scent game). Deployed in a mock scrape, he said, this product might anger an otherwise nocturnal buck enough to show up in daytime, looking for a fight.
Either way, a worthwhile fantasy to entertain.
Dennis Anderson • email@example.com
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