Deer Hunting Tips: Scent Control
By Scott Bish
With temperatures dropping and leaves changing colors across the country, fall welcomes the beginning of deer hunting season in many states.
Since deer rely heavily on their sense of smell to monitor the environment for threats, many hunters attribute their success out in the field to scent camouflage or elimination. Plenty of factors can make your scent more or less detectable, including the soap you use, the food you eat, and wind patterns. That’s why scent elimination requires several stages of planning.
Here are our top-recommended tips, supplies, and gear aimed at reducing the detection of your natural odors and upping your hunting game.
Eliminate Food Aromas
Consider eating your pre-hunt meal and drinking any fluids other than plain water before you shower and head to the hunting grounds. It’s also wise to skip the chewing gum and breath mints, which are made specifically to carry strong smells. If deer get even the slightest whiff of unnatural scents, they’ll go running.
Manage Natural Body Odors
Once you’ve eaten, it’s a good idea to bathe using fragrance-free soap and shampoo. Stick to odorless deodorants and other unscented body and bath products, too.
RATHER THAN MACHINE-DRYING YOUR CLOTHES, LET THEM DRY ON A CLOTHESLINE OUTSIDE.
Try Smell-Camouflaging Clothing
You can keep your scent hidden from cautious game with specially made scent-control hunting clothing. From shirts and jackets to pants and gloves, you‘ll want wearables that eliminate human scent at the microbial level.
For all machine-washable layers, use fragrance-free detergent. In addition, rather than machine-drying your clothes, let them dry on a clothesline outside. They’ll pick up scents from nature, not dryer sheets, helping you blend in better with the hunting environment.
If you’re traveling a far distance to hunt or heading out for a couple of days, pack your de-scented clothing into large, air-tight bags or a rubberized tote to keep them from picking up odors. Be sure you to change into those items right before you head out to hunt, and not hours before.
Scent-Eliminating Sprays and More
Take your scent control game to the next level with odor-elimination sprays. These usually either kill smell-causing bacteria or contain additives that neutralize your personal smell. Spray your clothing, boots, gear bags, and even your truck interior, since unwanted scents can be picked up just about anywhere.
Depending on how often you hunt, you may also want to consider buying a scent-elimination closet. It’s the perfect place to store your hunting gear while keeping it locked up, secure, and odor-free. If you’re looking to make a smaller investment, consider a scent elimination station.
AVOID UNDOING YOUR HARD WORK BY REMEMBERING TO PLAN AHEAD
Avoid “Reeking” Havoc
If you take all the precautions listed above, but wear your hunting apparel to the diner, spill a drink on your jacket, spray air freshener in your pickup truck, or fill up at the gas station before you hit the hunting grounds, then you’ve likely undone all your hard work. Life happens, but simple things like remembering to gas up the night before can help ensure you don’t come home from opening day empty-handed.
Mind Mother Nature
While your odors from your body, clothing, and gear may be in your control, environmental factors out of your control can affect a deer’s ability to pick up a scent—including wind patterns. It’s important to understand the direction of the wind and how to use it in your favor. On hunting day, use a weather website to check the wind direction. You can get hourly wind forecasts and then choose a site that’s upwind of your hunting spot.
Terrain also has an impact on how far scents are carried. Air moves over high spots and level stretches, and it swirls past obstacles and within calm pockets. If you have a favorite hollow that you hunt in, this type of terrain will funnel wind and change its direction—the same way water does when it hits an obstruction in a stream. Bottom line: Various types of terrain impact wind differently, so studying local wind patterns will help keep your scent from moving in the wrong direction.
Do you have more tips for scent control on the hunt? We’d love to read them! Send your advice to OutHere@TractorSupply.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
Scott Bish is a writer who hails from Ohio.