Deer Hunting Scent Control Tips to Make You a Better Hunter

Written By John VanDerLaan 

Updated

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Deer Hunting Scent Control Products

I have been practicing deer hunting 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 deer hunting clothes, even my tree stand safety harness 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 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 for deer hunting!

Today I do things very differently and have been very successful at harvesting deer at close range, thanks to the stringent use of the deer hunting tips below.

Deer Hunting Scent Control Methods

Wash Your Hunting Clothing

Always wash your hunting clothes in an unscented detergent and store them in an airtight container. My favorite is the The Trunk from Scent Crusher. Also, the clothes that you buy can make a difference. Many garment manufacturers today use materials with scent reducing capabilities that can make scent control easier. This clothing can be expensive, but it is worth it and it will last a lifetime with proper hunting clothes storage.

The Trunk from Scent Crusher

Wash Yourself

Always shower or bathe with an unscented soap before every hunt. If you don't want to spend money on unscented soap. baking soda is an inexpensive option.

Don't Forget Deodorant

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.

Dress At Your Hunting Location

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 destination.

Your Hunting Boots Matter

Authentic Muck Boots

Wear rubber hunting boots and don’t put them on until you arrive at your hunting spot. My favorites are Original MuckBoots. Rubber boots do not hold human scent and they are very good at keeping your human odors contained inside the boots.

Store Your Hunting Gear Outside

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 as should ground blinds. Don’t forget to store your hunting chairs outdoors as well.

Don't Forget To Spray Down

Spraying Down With Scent Killer

When you arrive at your hunting spot, have gotten dressed and you are ready to enter the woods, spray everything down with a human odor eliminator like Scent Killer.

Plan Your Enter And Exit Strategy

Always be aware of wind direction and 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, which can leave human odor behind.

Don't Overlook Oral Hygiene

Practice good oral hygiene to control breath odor. This includes brushing your teeth and using mouthwash before a hunt. Some hunters I know chew apple flavored gum. I prefer to carry apples in my backpack and suck on apple pieces during my hunt.

ZipLock Bags Are Your Friend

If you have anything that has an odor in your backpack, store it in a ziplock bag. They come in many different sizes and are ideal for containing odors. I also use them for garbage in my treestand or blind.

Don't Forget A Pee Bottle

Carry a bottle in your backpack for when you have to urinate. I use an empty 32 oz Gatorade bottle. There are hunters out there that claim is okay to just pee out of your tree stand and onto the ground, but I don't buy it. I am a firm believer in reducing human odor as much as possible. Better safe than sorry.

Don't Work Up A Sweat

Bowhunter walking slowly to his deer blind

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. During very warm weather, I will even walk to my stand in shorts and put my hunting pants on after I am in my tree stand.

Scent Blocking Clothes Work

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.

Your Head Is A Major Source Of Human Scent

A lot of scent comes from your head. Wash your hats often and consider wearing a ScentLok head cover.

Watch What You Eat

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.

The Higher The Better

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.

Use A Boot Dryer

PEET Hunting Boot Dryer With Sanitizer And Deodorizer

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. My favorite is the PEET Boot Dryer.

Don't Smoke

If you smoke… QUIT! It is not only killing your chances of getting close to deer, it is killing you!

Use Cover Scents

Cover scents have been around for centuries. Native Americans used to stand in the smoke from their fires to cover their human odor. While campfire smoke will still work, there are plenty of other options today. One option that I have had success with is called Nose Jammer. I have seen it work first hand. I haven't had a deer scent me yet while using it, despite having numerous deer come in downwind. You can see our experience using Nose Jammer by clicking here. In that article you can see a video of a buck come in downwind, look up at me, and continue to walk right under my tree stand without any indication os spooking.

Ozonics Work

Ozonics

We’ve saved the best for last! Ozone generation! The ultimate scent control tip for deer hunting is to use an Ozonics Scent Elimination Device! Ozonics has worked extremely well for me, although it is not foolproof. 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!

Final Thoughts on Scent Control for Deer Hunting

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 on a mature buck, you still need to hunt the wind and be aware of where your scent is going when you are planning your deer stand placement.

RELATED: Best Barometric Pressure For Deer Hunting

You can also utilize one of the best deer attractants to lure deer in and get them to stop where you can make an accurate shot.

At the end of the day, total scent elimination is not possible, but there are still steps that you can take in order to reduce the amount of human odor that you are emitting during a hunt.

Begin by implementing the tips above and you will see more deer and mature bucks on your hunts and you will see your success improve.

Click here to learn more about bowhunting for beginners.

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John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

4 thoughts on “Deer Hunting Scent Control Tips to Make You a Better Hunter”

  1. Where I live we are surrounded by apple orchards. so what I do is I take some apples and put them at the beginning of the trail before I go to my hunting spots and I step on and squish them into the treads on my boots before walking to my stand.

    Reply
    • Hi Lance,

      Thanks for the awesome comment!

      You’re lucky to have access to an apple orchard. I have had great success and created many memories while hanging out in an old apple tree!

      Thanks for sharing and adding valuable content to our deer hunting scent control article!

      Thanks again Lance!

      John

      Reply
  2. I have never heard of having bad gas not being a good thing while deer hunting before, but that is good to know. My husband is planning on going deer hunting soon, and so I’ll definitely make sure that he eats bland food around that time. Maybe I will make us some mashed potatoes, salads and things that don’t have anything that cause gas.

    Reply

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