Most hunters know that their biggest challenge in hunting any type of big game is winning the scent game. Big game, especially deer, can smell exceptionally well. Deer can smell 1000 times better than humans. Not only is it their number one defense in outwitting predators, it’s also how the deer communicate with one another. A whitetail or mule deer can smell human scent for hundreds of yards away in the right situation. They can also pick up on a human trail several days after it was left. A mature buck will vacate an area if he picks up any indication of human pressure, especially during hunting season. Our challenge as deer hunters is figuring out how to beat a deer’s best defense.
Don’t go Smelly
It’s the reason Germaphobes lay in bed awake at night, bacteria growth. Throughout the day bacteria multiply rapidly in the presence of sweat which creates an odor we call B.O. The first order of business in avoiding a buck’s olfactory glands is to remove the bacteria and all the dead skin cells from your body. Showering before every hunt is extremely important. It is easy to get lazy or to get in a hurry and skip this step. How many times have we rushed home from work and said, “screw it I’ll just douse down with field spray really well?” I’ve been guilty of it myself. But if you are going to take deer hunting seriously and you want to bag a real trophy, you have to get clean before hunting. With the large amount of hunter friendly shampoos, soaps, deodorants, body sprays, and oral hygiene products there really is no reason you shouldn’t take advantage.
Scent Control Clothing
Scent control hunting clothes are a good investment. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drop $700 on a scent suit. You can start out by purchasing some scent control base layers and wearing any type of hunting outer that you want as long as it has been washed properly. Going back a decade or more ago, hunters had to wash their hunting clothes in baking soda and keep them in a plastic trash bag or bin until it was time to hunt. This is still a very effective method, especially if you have a scent control base layer on underneath. If you can afford it, an entire scent control suit is definitely going to tip the odds in your favor. Care is still needed in washing, activating, and storing the clothing but once that is accomplished you’ll have a nice lining of scent molecule absorbing material between you and the deer’s nose.
Scent Killing Spray
Scent molecule neutralizing spray, better known as field spray is one of the best tools a hunter can use. These field sprays have a scent killing technology that neutralizes any foreign scent molecules. Spraying down your clothing, boots, and equipment is just an extra barrier of defense in controlling your scent. I’ve used the Dead Down Wind products for several years now and can definitely say they are worth their weight in gold. No matter how hard you try, there will still be some scent molecules on your hunting clothes and equipment. A good field spray is convenient and a last line of defense. I spray down right before I disembark into the field.
Playing the Wind
With all the scent control products that flood the market, we sometimes forget that a sure way to beat a buck’s incredible sniffer is to stay downwind. Staying downwind of deer is how most hunters used to be successful 10 or 20 years ago. There were no charcoal lined scent free clothes to help mask human scent. It was throw on the old coveralls and maybe put some cover scent like skunk or coyote pee on your boots, check the wind, and go. I’m not suggesting that scent control clothing isn’t worth the investment because I’ve already indicated that it is; I’m only suggesting that we cannot forget to play the wind. Set your deer stands in accordance with the prevailing wind and stay out of areas when the wind direction is not desirable. Even with all the other precautions you take; playing the wind can be your ace in the hole.
If scent is a deer’s biggest defense, then it’s certainly a hunter’s biggest challenge. Learn to beat it and it can pay big dividends. Follow these simple scent control tips to beat a buck’s nose and you’ll find you are a lot more successful in getting close to big deer.