A mature buck has one of the best sniffers in the woods and fooling it is no easy task. A deer can smell human scent from 150-200 yards away and can pick up man’s trail for several days after it was left. Deer can smell 1000 times better than a human. You may have seen a deer stick their nose up in the air trying to smell for danger. They will even lick their nostrils allowing more scent molecules to be drawn to the moisture. Scent is a deer’s #1 defense over sight and sound. Scent is also how the deer communicate with one another. They have many scent glands and will leave sign for other deer. Scent is to deer as talking is to us, it’s their way of communicating and survival. It is also the biggest challenge we face as deer hunters.
Beating a deer’s nose one on one is like beating Peyton Manning in a quarterback challenge. You’re better off just staying in bed that day unless you just want to get his autograph or something. To fool a buck’s nose you have to tip the scales in your favor anyway you can. There are several very effective methods for doing this, but the key is to be consistent in doing them. Slack off one time because you are running late or just too lazy, and you may not see any big bucks in your area the rest of the season.
1. The Wind is Your Friend
First in my bag of scent control tips is to play the wind. The slightest breeze will carry your scent molecules, so get downwind of the deer and there is no way they can smell you. Always set up stands for the prevailing wind direction and never sit in a spot unless the wind is right. I use a small spray bottle filled with baby powder to test the wind direction often, especially on my way to my stand and after I get set up. You can also tie a small piece of thread to your weapon to keep an eye on the wind direction. It isn’t unheard of for seasoned hunters to get down and leave if the wind changes directions or starts to swirl. To harvest a trophy buck, that’s how anal you have to be.
2. Eliminate Your Scent
Even when you are hunting with the wind in your favor, it never fails that deer don’t do what they are supposed to. Big mature bucks will often make their own trail and come from an unexpected direction, I guess that is how they got to be big. I often say, a mature buck is a different creature than all the other deer. They are smart, wary, and will fool you more times than not. To gain the advantage even when playing the wind, you have to eliminate your own scent. I start this by showering before every hunt. Let me say that again, I shower before every hunt. I know that will shock some of you but eliminating all the dead skin cells and washing the scent molecules out of your hair is crucial. I have used the Dead Down Wind body and hair soap for several years. I would also recommend using a scent control deodorant in case you get a little warm navigating to the stand. Whatever you do, don’t use your regular deodorant, cologne, body spray, shaving cream, or anything that will leave you smelling like the college kid working behind the counter at the Aeropostale store. I will even go as far as to dry off with a towel that has been washed with my hunting clothes which brings me to the next scent control tip.
3. Do Your Own Laundry
Wash your hunting clothes in scent eliminating laundry soap. I use the Dead Down Wind scent prevent laundry detergent to wash every thing from my base layers to my face mask and every thing in between. Even with the charcoal filter scent control clothes, I still wash them once or twice a season. There are many types of laundry soap for hunters and even plain baking soda will work but I think the newer hunter laundry detergent products help to keep your clothes from color fading. Whatever you do, don’t let your significant other wash your clothes with the rest of the laundry. I also use the dryer sheets when I dry or activate my scent control clothing. I recommend storing the dryer sheets in a gallon size zip lock bag otherwise they tend to dry out. I store all my hunting clothes in a Scent Blocker bag and will even throw a few pine cones or leaves in there as well, just be sure to use whatever is native to where you hunt. A plastic trash bag or container will also provide scent free storage if you don’t have one of the scent control storage bags.
4. Charcoal isn’t Just for Grilling
As I touched on previously, scent control clothing is a big advantage. These products use a charcoal filter system to catch your scent molecules before they can get out. There are several good brands and varieties to choose from for both early and late season hunting. Even after showering, you can still get contaminated with smells before you hit the stand. Your vehicle has human scents in it or you may even start to sweat on the way to the stand. Having scent control clothing will just give you another barrier of defense. Remember, you are hunting something that can smell 1000 times better than you can.
5. Dress for Success but do it Outside
Don’t get dressed until you get to your hunting property. This one is the deal breaker for a lot of hunters but I personally have dressed outside the vehicle in the dark in freezing temperatures many times. You can’t take all the other precautions and then wear your hunting clothes in your vehicle unless you’ve somehow made it all scent free as well. At least a couple of times a year on my early morning commute to the hunting property, I see hunters sporting their orange hats and clothing in their trucks. I even see guys pumping fuel at the gas station wearing full camouflage. Most of them are just weekend warriors and really don’t care what they kill, they have the “if it’s brown it’s going down” attitude but still it makes me wonder what they’re thinking. At most, I’ll wear my base layers under my street clothes but then I won’t put on the outer layers until I get to the property. Be sure to turn your vehicle off and let the exhaust fumes blow away before you jump out to get dressed. It’s the little details like this that will help you hit the jackpot. If you are lucky enough to be at a hunting camp or cabin you should still consider dressing outside just before going out. It’s also worth mentioning that wearing knee high rubber boots is recommended. The canvas or leather camo boots may look cool but they hold scent, rubber does not. Look at what all the professional hunters on TV wear, rubber boots are a must.
6. Spray it Don’t Say it
After I am dressed and all geared up, I spray down with the Dead Down Wind scent eliminating field spray. There are so many of these on the market that there really is no reason not to use it. As a last precaution in gaining the edge to downing a huge buck, spray down all your clothing, weapon, gear, backpack, and boots with field spray. These sprays will neutralize any scent molecules so they cannot be detected. This scent control tip is a big advantage when taking human scent on full force. These products really do work, I highly recommend using some type of scent neutralizing spray just before heading to the deer stand.
7. Dirty Mouth?
My last line of defense in scent control is using a breath eliminating spray. I use the Dead Down Wind breath spray even after brushing my teeth. I like to spray a couple of squirts into my mouth as the last thing I do before heading to my stand. I will also often pop in a piece of hunter’s gum as an extra precaution. I don’t take any chances when hunting a monster buck. I believe that a mature buck can smell what you had to eat last on your breath if the conditions are right.
Practicing some of these scent control tips is better than not making an effort at all. But following all of these scent eliminating tips will definitely give you the advantage over the trophy buck you’ve always dreamed of. These products and methods work, I’ve had nice bucks downwind of me and not have a clue I was there. That has only happened in the past few years due to all the scent eliminating products on the market. There really is no excuse not to be doing all of these things if you are serious about hunting trophy sized deer this season. Follow these deer scent control tips and experience the difference for yourself.
Thanks for reading and happy scent eliminating!