The sense of smell is the whitetail deer’s greatest defense. No matter what clothing you wear or what cover scent you use, their nose can still detect you. Lets compare noses for a minute.
Humans use around 5 million scent receptors while smelling odors.
Dogs have around 220 million scent receptors which is why “man’s best friend” has been used for many different jobs for thousands of years. A dog’s keen sense of smell allows them to sniff out wild game, detect buried bodies (land and water), find well packaged hidden drugs, and they can even smell cancerous areas on humans…. just to name a few!
The white tail deer has around 300 million scent receptors!
Can we completely eliminate our scent with scent control to escape this powerful nose?
No. Studies have proven that there is no scent control product which can accomplish this. As soon as a whitetail deer associates a scent with danger, it gets stored in the deer’s memory bank. The guy who was smoking in his tree stand and shot and missed an eight pointer instantly linked tobacco smoke to DANGER in that deer’s brain. Since we have no clue what odors deer have associated to danger, the best practice is to use scent control.
What can I do to to ensure proper scent control?
1. Play the wind
Wind is the vehicle that carries scent. If you only hunt areas during a perfect wind, you can control your scent’s availability to deer and increase your odds exponentially. Approach your hunting area with the wind in your face. Hunt from treestands or blinds downwind from deer and deer trails. If the wind is not perfect, choose another stand location to avoid spooking and educating deer. Remember deer will change their patterns for survival. To us hunting is a sport but to the white tail deer its a matter of life and death.
2. Become as physically odorless as possible
Use the following scent free products:
- laundry detergent
- bar soap
- shaving cream
Many companies such as Dead Down Wind and Hunter’s Specialties offer products marketed directly for hunters seeking scent control. These products may be on the expensive side but they offer good fragrance free products which will do the job.
The other option is to just visit your local grocery store. A large percentage of the population has allergies and needs fragrance free products. Major manufacturers have filled this need with a variety of products which are priced competitively and do a great job just like the products marketed towards hunters.
Minor odors left on clothes and be lessoned by hanging the clothes outdoors. As long as you have a clean wind blowing, it will carry away odor from the clothes. Once your hunting clothes are as scent free as possible, it’s a good idea to store them in a scent free container until they are ready for use.
Below are some pictures of items you may be able to find at your local grocery store.
3. Avoid picking up hard to lose odors
Our bodies can pick up odors internally and externally. Watch what foods you eat 24 hrs prior to a hunt. Avoid spicy foods, smoked, or strongly seasoned foods which might ride your every breath for hours.
Limit your alcohol consumption. Beer and hard liquor will exit your body through your pores and taint your breath. This could give you position away during a hunt if the wind does not cooperate.
Watch where you walk and what you do. Avoid gas stations at all cost on the day that you are going to hunt. Gasoline has an additive that gives it a strong odor for safety reasons so that little drip that may get on your clothes or skin may end up providing you an uneventful hunt. Vehicles also leak a variety of stinky liquids so where ever a car could be park is a possible place to pick up an undesired odor.
4. Practice common sense while in the field
- Avoid touching and leaving scent on branches and trees while in the field
- Do not cross a deer trail unless you have to
- Walk in water or mud ,while in the field, to rid your boots of odor
- Do not consume liquids or foods that have a strong scent while in the field
- If you have a long walk to your stand, carry the majority of your clothes in a back pack and dress at your destination to avoid sweating and creating body odor
- Do not smoke while in your tree stand
- Do not chew tobacco while in your tree stand
- Use a cover scent that makes sense with your environment
Practice proper scent control and your odds of a successful hunt will go up while the number of wasted tree stand hours will go down!! Good Luck!