Scent control is one of the most important strategies in a deer hunters arsenal. Let’s face it, we can’t eliminate human scent, but we sure can reduce it and up the odds of fooling a deers nose for long enough to get a shot.
I have been practicing scent control for more than 30 years and a lot has changed in that time. I will never forget my first attempt at scent control back in the early 80s. I was just a teenager and I had washed all of my hunting clothes with baking soda, hung them out to dry, and then put them in a plastic garbage bag with some fresh cut pine boughs. That was a lot of work for a teenage kid that never did his own laundry!
Anyway, I left the bag of hunting clothes out in the backyard so that there was no chance of them being contaminated with odors. I went back into the house and found my mom at the kitchen sink, staring out the window into the back yard with her hand over her mouth and eyes as big as saucers.
When I asked her what was wrong, she began to laugh uncontrollably! When she finally regained her composure, she told me that she had just watched our dog walk over to my bag of freshly laundered hunting clothes, sniff it, and proceed to lift his leg and pee all over the bag! That was my introduction into scent control!
Today I do things very differently and have been very successful at harvesting deer at close range, thanks to the stringent use of the scent control tips below.
Scent Control Tips
- Always wash your hunting clothes in an unscented detergent and store them in an airtight container. My favorite is the Scent-Lok Hard Tote.
- Always shower with an unscented soap before every hunt.
- Use an unscented deodorant during hunting season. Even when you are not hunting. I use the Crystal Deodorant Stick. It works great and there is literally zero odor.
- Never wear your hunting clothes in your vehicle. Bring them with you in the air tight container and change into them when you arrive at your hunting spot.
- Wear rubber boots and don’t put them on until you arrive at your hunting spot. My favorites are Original MuckBoots.
- When you arrive at your hunting spot and you are ready to enter the woods, spray everything down with a human scent eliminator like Scent Killer.
- If you hunt out of a climbing tree stand, store it outdoors well before, and during the season. Hang on and ladder stands should be set up well before the season.
- Try to enter and exit your hunting area where your scent will not blow through the area. Also try not to cross deer trails if at all possible.
- When traveling to and from your stand, avoid rubbing up against brush and grasses. Also avoid touching anything with bare hands.
- Practice good oral hygiene to control breath odor. Some hunters I know chew apple flavored gum. I prefer to carry apples in my backpack and suck on apple pieces during my hunt.
- If you have anything that has an odor in your backpack, store it in a zip lock bag.
- Carry a bottle in your backpack for when you have to urinate. I use an empty 32oz Gatorade bottle.
- Dress lightly and carry extra layers in your backpack. Also, give yourself plenty of time and walk slowly to your stand so that you don’t work up a sweat.
- Wear an outer layer of Scent Lok or Scent blocker activated carbon clothes. Make sure to reactivate them in the dryer frequently during the season.
- A lot of scent comes from your head. Wash your hats often and consider wearing a ScentLok head cover.
- Try to eat bland foods during hunting season. Having bad gas will not help your cause. Also, I do all the cooking in my house and if I am chopping onions and garlic, my hands will smell for days.
- Get as high in the tree as you can. While this tip has some merit, I have found that you have to be nosebleed high (30+ feet) for it to really work, and even then it will only work on deer that are very close.
- Your boots are a major source of scent! After your hunt, use a boot dryer to dry them inside and then spray thoroughly with scent killer. It will make a huge difference.
- If you smoke… QUIT! It is not only killing your chances of getting close to deer, it is killing you!
- We’ve saved the best for last! The ultimate scent control tip is to use an Ozonics HR200 Scent Elimination Device! Ozonics has worked extremely well for me, although it is not fool proof. I have had deer wind me while using Ozonics, but I have also had deer directly downwind that did not wind me. If you can afford an Ozonics unit, it is well worth the investment. Mine is currently 5 years old and still working strong!
Scent control is an extremely important part in our quest to outsmart the whitetail deer, but it is only one part of the equation. Even though proper scent control techniques can increase your chances and perhaps buy you those few precious seconds that you need to make the shot, you still need to hunt the wind and be aware of where your scent is going.
Please leave your comments and scent control tips below!