Deer have always been prey species. They use all of their senses to avoid being killed by predators like coyotes, wolves, bears, hunters, and automobiles. Their most refined defense is their nose. Whitetail deer are believed to have noses one hundred times more sensitive than a dog’s. Uneducated deer are usually not exceedingly wary of human scent. But if you want to get close to a mature buck you’re going to have to control your scent. Here are five great tips for controlling human odor while deer hunting.
Scent Control Clothing The first step is scent control clothing. Some clothing utilizes activated carbon, others use silver to eliminate odor. Just about everything from base layers, socks, gloves, pants, jackets, hats, and facemasks are made to control odor. Of course, rubber boots are also an important addition. It doesn’t matter what you wear if you don’t take care of your clothing. If you’re wearing your scent free clothing in the truck or during breakfast you might as well wrap yourself in bacon. Don’t put on your hunting clothing until you’re in the field and have everything else ready to go.
Don’t wash your scent free clothing in normal detergent. Use scent free, phosphate free, UV brightener-free detergent. In fact, wash a load of your normal clothes in this detergent before doing a load of your hunting clothes just to get any residual detergent out of the machine. Once clean, clothing should be stored in a sealed, scent-free container.
De-Scenting Shower Your body is constantly creating odor. Bacteria is the chief cause of human odor and most scent killing soap is designed to kill bacteria. Lather your entire body and leave the soap on for about a minute before rinsing off. Letting the soap sit on your body will allow it to kill more bacteria. Be sure to wash a supply of towels with your scent free laundry detergent too. Before dressing, apply scent free antiperspirant.
Dirty Mouth One of the most bacteria rich environments on your body is your mouth. As you exhale, much of the scent from your mouth is dispersed into the air. Brush your teeth with unscented baking soda toothpaste at home and just before going into the field. Plaque is a chief producer of scent. Regular visits to the dentist can help control plaque and in turn, control scent. Chewing gum flavored with vanilla, apple, or mint can mask your scent.
Scent-Eliminating Sprays Just about everybody sprays down before hunting these days. But are you doing a good enough job? Buy your spray in bulk at the beginning of the season and don’t be shy about using it. Spray down at the truck and again in the stand. Spray down everything including yourself, your equipment, decoys, calls, and anything else you may have with you.
Using Scents There are two basic types of scents; cover scent and lures. I have seen deer lure scents work but personally avoid them. Using a deer lure scent is essentially asking deer to use their nose at a heightened level. Think about walking into your house when something really good is on the stove. You try to figure out what it is that you are smelling and are very aware of the scents in your home. If you come home before dinner is on the stove your house just smells like it always does and you’re probably not thinking about scent at all. The same principle applies for deer in my opinion. I do like cover scents but I don’t buy commercially produced scents. I prefer using scents from my hunting area. For example, we have junipers, apple trees, and various pines scattered throughout the property. I’ll use branches and apples to mask my scent. I’ve also been known to walk through cow pies on the way into my stand.
You’re never going to completely eliminate your scent. But if you can control it well, you can make a buck and possibly even a bear think your 200 yards away when you’re really just 20 yards away.
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