Is scent control really important? Yes, it is extremely important. A deer’s sense of smell is more advanced than its sight, sound or taste. However, you cannot rely on scent control only to bring down a buck, for no matter how intense your scent control tactics are, he will smell you at least a little. Scent control is important but has to coincide with working the wind.
It is worth mentioning that some sceptics are alarmed that scent control has turned into a big money-making business. Now although this is true, there is no doubt that a deer’s advanced sense of smell is its primary defense mechanism. It is used to detect and avoid predators. So for that reason, it will detect a hunter and consequently avoid him.
Scent control is a big step toward a successful hunt and any hunter should use as many tactics and techniques possible to avoid being smelled.
There is one additional aspect to consider; deer hunting in high pressured areas where they have learned to be leery of humans requires more additional and more advanced scent control techniques than compared to hunting in unpressured areas.
How do you get rid of smell before deer hunting?
Pre-Hunting Scent Control Tips
The first question we have to ask, is when exactly to begin the process of scent control when it comes to your body, clothes, and gear? Or can you still have a successful hunt even if you implement last-minute scent control measures?
During hunting season large amounts of dollars are spent on scent control products, including carbon clothing, ozone, cover scents, urine scent, and scent eliminating sprays.
Although these are all of tremendous value to hunters, we cannot overlook the importance of “when” you begin your scent control process.
The very first step in scent control begins long before the hunt; and more specific at the end of the previous hunting season. You are now ready to put your clothes and gear into storage.
In effect, these will stay boxed up in your garage or shed until the next season. Being exposed to chemicals, fumes, petrol or grease over such a long period, will result in a difficult next hunt.
Therefore you have to implement are a number of effective ways to store your clothes and gear scent-free.
Scent-free Storage Tips:
- Ensure that your gear and clothes are clean and dry before putting them into storage.
- Rinse your washer before putting your clothes in.
- Wash all clothes in scent-free soap – from underwear to outer layers.
- When it gets to drying hunting clothes in a dryer, you might look out for specific manufacturers of scent-free products who sells sheets that absorb odor in the dryer.
- Keep them in sealed containers in between hunting seasons.
- Make use of containers and/or rubber bags that are specifically designed for this purpose.
- Containers should be airtight.
- Scent-free storage is not for clothes only but should include your backpack, optics and safety harness too.
Hunting Scent Control Tips
If we can narrow scent-free body odors down to a single golden rule, it would be to avoid any unnatural odors.
The most important way to combat body odors is having a consistent hygiene routine. Of course, this begins with a scent-free shower, but it is not limited to it.
- Take a scent free shower the evening prior to the hunt and again before you get dressed for the hunt.
- Use scent eliminating soap or body wash.
- A great idea is to mix a few tablespoons baking soda with liquid scent-free soap. (You will find the recipe below).
- Use scent-free shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant.
- Rinse off for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Dry yourself with towels laundered after rinsing the washer and washed with scent-free laundry detergent. Showering in scent-free products has little effect if you use a towel laundered with general household products.
- Use odorless hand & body lotion if needed. This will also protect your skin from dryness as a result of harsh weather conditions.
- Some hunters follow this routine throughout the hunting season.
- Make sure you clean-up with scent free products after each meal or coffee.
- Use scent-free toothpaste.
- Brush your teeth with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
- Use scent-free mouthwash.
- Use scent-free or chlorophyll chewing gum.
- Take a small travel-size mouthwash container filled with hydrogen peroxide with you and use several times throughout the hunt.
- Refrain from smoking when out in the woods. That goes for chewing tobacco too!
That brings us to one final detail – for several days before the hunt, you should avoid any food that can cause gas.
Scent-free clothing is extremely important when hunting and therefore it will take some time and effort to plan your personal strategy.
It is, however, important to remember that scent-free clothing is only part of your overall strategy. Body odor and paying attention to the wind, should not be overlooked.
Scent-free clothing Tips:
- It is the beginning of hunting season and you have just taken your clothes out of storage. The first thing to do is to hang them outside, spray with scent-eliminating spray and let them dry.
- Then run them through ozone. Ozone works wonders in eliminating odors in numerous situations including hunting. It is the process of transforming oxygen molecules into ozone molecules and destroying bacteria which can cause odor.
- Ozone is the life-saver of last minute plans.
- Putting your clothes in an ozone storage bag or tub for about 30 minutes before a hunt can add much value to scent-free clothes.
- Use a plug-in ozone unit for your truck.
- It is best not to wear your hunting clothes before arriving at your stand. The last thing you want is to spill coffee over it, be in the company of smokers or fill your tank with gas on your way to your hunting area.
- Do not rush to get to your stand, because by taking your time to get there you will avoid excessive sweating.
- Before leaving for your hunt, seal your clothes in a bag or plastic container and add some leaves, dirt or other debris from your hunting area. This will ensure that your clothes have time to adopt the natural scents of your hunting location. Transporting your clothes like this will prevent that they get contaminated on the way to the field.
- Get dressed outside your truck as there are noticeable scents on the seats.
- Boots are probably the most overlooked item when it comes to scent control when, in fact, they are extremely susceptible to odors.
- The reason for this is that boots can hold scent for up to a few months.
- One experienced hunter gets rid of sweat and odor inside his boots by putting it in a boot dryer and then sprinkle the inside of his boots with baking soda after each hunt.
- Wear your boots only between your truck and your stand.
Do not underestimate the role that your backpack plays in being scent-free. It is easy to become overly concerned with odorless clothes and body and then forget about your backpack.
Your backpack should receive the same scent control treatment as the rest of your clothes and gear.
Additionally, everything that goes into your backpack, should be placed in Ziploc bags. It is important that what is inside is also scent-free as this will go with you to the tree stand.
For most hunters, the binocular is the last item they think of during their scent-control routine. But the fact is, binocular straps can easily carry as much human scent like any other cloth items. They should, therefore, be treated the same way as any other item in your scent-free container.
And if you are a bow hunter, then, make sure to spray your bow release too.
It is easy to let the hang-on or climber stands slip by in the process of scent-control, while in fact, it plays an important role in scent detection. The tree stand is usually thrown in the back of the truck without a single thought about the odors that could be left on its seat or straps.
It is therefore important to include your tree stand in your stand in your odor-free strategy.
In-field ozone generator
This is an excellent item to have at hand when you are in the field. Mount it over your head and aim it downwind to eliminate almost all the new scent that you might be creating while in the field.
Quick Tips for in-the-field:
- Take a small bottle of scent elimination spray with you. Use this to spray down your pack a second time when you get to your stand.
- Also spray your head, hands, and hat at regular intervals.
- Wear your exterior carbon-lined clothes when entering and exiting your stand. This will prevent leaving odor on vegetation when coming in contact with it.
- Drape your pant legs over your boots, as the activated-carbon in the pant legs will absorb foot odor molecules which could have been displaced out the top of rubber or neoprene boots.
Home-made Scent Spray
There is a lot to be said about effective sprays for scent-control. The variety of products on the market is endless.
Now, as exciting as it seems to have unlimited possibilities to go odorless, there might be one small restricting factor – cash flow.
The fact is, it can get quite expensive to buy all the available scent-eliminating products currently on the market. Luckily there is an alternative.
A few decades ago, a guy named Paul Krebaum, invented the ultimate homemade scent neutralizing spray. There are a number of different varieties and recipes available, but we found this one to be closest to the original:
To make a pint of spray you will need:
- 8 ounces of distilled water (you may use rainwater instead, but not tap water since it contains chlorine and other chemicals).
- One-eighth cup of baking soda
- 8 ounces of peroxide (3% formula)
- 1 teaspoon unscented soap
- Additional: you may add powdered pine cones, bark chips, debris or flowers from the area to make it smelling extremely natural.
What to do:
- Dissolve the baking soda in the distilled water.
- Mix in the peroxide.
- Add the unscented soap.
- Stir well but do not shake.
- Put into a spray bottle.
There are, however, a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
- Make a fresh batch for every use.
- Do not use more water as this will dilute the formula.
- Do not use more baking soda since it will take longer to dissolve and clog up your spray bottle.
- Do not make it in advance since the peroxide will oxidize within an hour or two whether you use it or not. The mixture has no shelf life and should, therefore, be used immediately.
Use the Wind to Your Advantage
So far we have established that it is vitally important to use all and every scent-elimination tactic humanly possible to keep deer from smelling you.
After all, preparations have been made, it finally comes down to using the wind to your advantage.
The fact is, you can use the most expensive and efficient scent-free products, but when you are out in the field and a deer catches your scent downwind, you will be detected.
Therefore you should always make the wind work to your advantage by having the wind in your face, not blowing on your back.
On the flipside, a deer passing upwind will not detect you. You should always keep in mind, though, that wind direction can change and you might be required to change your position and even your stand accordingly.