Scent is a mysterious and often grossly misunderstood aspect amongst those who not only pursue game with hounds or other hunting dog breeds, but all hunters in general.
Scent is simply comprised of micro particles of disturbed vegetable matter and/or released dead body cells drifting from the targeted subject. Vegetable matter can be crushed plant material or even minute surface dwelling bio-material living upon hard surfaces like concrete or rock. Dead body cells consist of drifting dead skin, fur or feather cells eventually falling to the ground. This may also include fluids, oils and vapors the body expels.
How long does a scent trail last? That depends on given environmental conditions. The trail won ‘t exist very long if it has been hot and windy over dry surfaces. In contrast, it will survive much longer in cool, moist conditions upon grassy areas with no wind exposure.
Here are some Myths about scenting:
“Animals can’t smell me when I apply scent-free products like special soaps, sprays or even wear scent free clothing.’ If you are living and breathing, you are giving off scent. Although these products may lessen the scent intensity from your person, a Bloodhound can find you in the woods within minutes. It is impossible for any human to be scent free.
“Hounds can’t run a scent trail in the rain.” Scent particles tend to be hydrophilic, meaning they readily soak up moisture and create an effluvium of scent for the canine olfactory system. Hounds have successfully found humans and animals in the pounding rain. Any good hunting breed should be able to trail game in light to moderate rain.
“My dog sometimes ground scents and other times he air scents.” I suppose if your dog’s nose is on the ground, you can call that ground scenting and if it’s in the air, you can call that air scenting. Is it called water scenting if he sniffs a running creek or tree scenting if he barks up a tree? Scent is scent!
The canine’s nose is attracted to the strongest scent source available at that moment during trailing. The canine has thousands more scent receptors than humans. A roaming nose is a hunting nose; let it be.
If you want to see how your dog scents, ignite a brightly colored smoke bomb outdoors with plenty of room to observe and follow the pock etc. of floating smoke. Watch how clouds of smoke slowly break apart, climb high into tree tops, sink down into ravines or just lazily snake over the high grass. Wind, atmospheric pressure, humidity, temperature, etc. ….all affect the smoke as it does with scent. That is why your trailing dog runs, stops, circles around, runs again ….. Let him work it out without interference from you. Scenting is his world, not yours.
You can improve your game scent trailing by taking advantage of the best environmental conditions available, as well as staying away from proven scent killers, i.e…..hot and dry surfaces, vehicle exhaust fumes or petroleum products. Trying to scent a hound on a fresh track next to a chugging hunting rig is like us trying to smell a rose over a smoky camp fire.
As much as we now know about scent, there is still plenty of scientific work to be done. As a hunter, you must understand how scent works whether you use a canine partner or not. Whether hunting birds or bear, scent is always there.
Keep the wind on your face, the sun to your back and hunt like a predator!
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