32 Tips to Becoming Scent Free
Every season sportsmen from around the country head afield in search of elusive trophy big game animals. Some of these hunters even spend thousands of dollars and travel to distant lands for a species that is not found where they call home.
Unfortunately, many of these same hunters return home empty handed claiming to not even see an animal to shoot at. They then lay the blame on the lack of animals or a lousy guide. While either of those may be true most of the time is foiled by their query before they even left home. Why? The answer is scent control. This is perhaps the most important aspect of archery hunting. Even with all the scouting in the world, if you get to your stand and you “stink”, the gig is up and you lost.
Here are some tips to help you become as close to scentless as possible and by adhering to these steps you will be closer to the game you are hunting.
- Washing Clothes – Rinse the washer out thoroughly before putting any hunting clothes inside. Residual phosphates and household detergents can contaminate them. Once it is rinsed, wash them in baking soda or other sportsmen’s detergents that are scent free and contain UV killers.
- Drying clothes – If drying them in the dryer, be sure not to put in fabric softening sheets. Only put them in if they are ones specially made for hunters. Even after removing them from the dryer, hang them outdoors away from smoke and other foreign odors and allow them to naturally air out.
- Clothes handling – When handling hunting clothes when preparing them it is a good idea to wear latex surgical gloves. This will reduce the chance of bacteria from forming on the clothes.
- Launder often. – Do not “over-wear” your hunting clothes. Have several sets of hunting outfits prepared and rotate the use of each set. By doing this you can launder other clothes while still having fresh, uncontaminated clothing.
- Shower preparation. – What good does it do to shower with an unscented soap and then towel off with a fresh towel that was laundered in normal detergents? Wash towels in the same sportsmen’s detergents that you would your hunting clothes. Store them in a plastic bag or other scent free area. Be sure that they are completely dry before storing or they will begin to “stink”.
- Take showers not baths. – Use unscented soaps and shampoos for your showers and be sure to rinse especially well when finished. I usually like to rinse for 5 to 10 minutes before stepping out. Showers allow you to rinse scent-making bacteria off of your body much more easily. Pay especially close attention to certain areas of your body. Areas such as armpits, groin, head and other unmentionable areas of your body will create the most harmful odors for a hunter.
- Shower follow up. – After you have completely dried off dowse your body with baking soda or a hunter’s antiperspirant. This will help fight the bacteria in sweat that is what actually creates odor. Be sure to also apply antiperspirant to your feet as well.
- Bathroom. – Be sure to use the facilities before your shower. By doing this it will allow a clean area that has just become contaminated from your urination or defecation.
- Smoking and chewing. – It is important to refrain from smoking before during and after your hunt. After careful preparation of showering and washing your clothes properly, one cigarette will ruin all of it. Also, the use of chewing tobacco can hinder your ability to remain undetected due to the usually strong odor of wintergreen flavor that is in many varieties of chewing tobacco.
- Breath. – One of the most overlooked aspects of scent control is what comes out of your mouth. Proper dental hygiene will help eliminate harmful bad breath. Avoid eating such things as garlic, peppers and onions before your hunt. Vanilla flavored chewing gum and chlorophyll tablets will help with keeping your breath as scentless as possible.
- Clothing to your stand. – It is important to wear only the necessary clothing while traveling to your stand. Put the rest of your hunting clothes on once you have reached your stand.
- Walking to your stand. – It is also very important to allow extra time to arrive to your stand. You want to walk very slowly to avoid working up a sweat. It is best to leave early to allow extra time so you can arrive to your stand sweat free. If time limitations are a problem it is better to do is slow down and arrive to your stand late than to rush and arrive early and perspiring.
- Bag your clothes. – While driving to your hunting area or while storing them keep your clothes in plastic bags to keep vehicle odors and other foreign odors from contaminating your hunting attire. Once you arrive at your destination remove them from the bag and put them on while wearing plastic gloves.
- Scent-Loc suits. – These are great items to have but is only as good as the person using them. If used improperly they become just like any other piece of clothing. Follow their instructions carefully and place them in scent free storage containers like the rest of your hunting clothes. Shop Scent-Loc at Cabela’s.
- Household chores. – It is also very important to never wear any of your hunting clothes or footwear while working around the house, shopping or anything else. Keep your hunting attire for hunting, nothing else.
- Trail stepping. – Avoid walking on deer trails and when crossing always take a wide step and step over. A deer most often walks with his nose to the trail so avoid stepping directly onto it.
- Droppings. – Stepping into such things as cow dung or deer dropping can aid in hiding your scent and in some cases attract deer. Only step in cow feces if there are any in the area. Never do it on one area and then go hunting a wilderness area that is lack of agriculture.
- Rubber boots. – To help avoid leaving any scent while traveling to and from your stand the use of calf height rubber boots is important. The air spaces in rubber are much smaller than leather, which makes it very difficult for scent molecules to pass through.
- Gloves. – Always wear gloves while traveling to your stand to help keep scent down if you need to move a limb out of your way. At all possible try to avoid touching anything on the way in or out to your stand. Leave only footprints.
- Rubber gloves. – It is also important to wear rubber gloves when dispensing scent. If you are placing doe in heat scent canisters or creating a mock scrape always wear rubber gloves. Deer approaching these areas are especially cautious and will flee at the first sign of human intrusion.
- Painting stands. – When preparing your equipment for the season it may be necessary to touch up your gear to eliminate reflective surfaces. Even with so-called hunter friendly spray paints that are available to sportsmen and women today they still contain many harmful odors. Avoid this problem by prepping your gear well ahead of the season and allow them ample time to air out in the outdoors. Over time the odors that paints carry with them will dissipate.
- Pumping gas. – Always avoid pumping gas on the day of your hunt. Only make fuel stops after you have removed all your hunting clothes and they are stored properly and on the return trip from your hunt. You do not want to do this after you have showered even if are not wearing your hunting clothes. A single drop of gasoline on your hand can be smelled at great distances from game animals.
- Choosing cover scents. – The proper use of cover scents is very important to the archery hunter as well. It is important to choose a scent that is native to the area you are hunting. If you were to use a cedar scents in an area of white and red oaks you will be defeating your purpose. Deer know what is in their area at all times so it is important to choose the proper scent. Shop ‘cover scents’ at Amazon.
- Applying cover scents. – Too many times I have seen this done and once it’s done it’s too late and that is over-applying cover scents. Follow the directions carefully. Scent manufacture companies know their products the best and will tell you where to place the scent and how much to apply to achieve the best results. My general rule is – “if you’re in the stand and can smell the cover scent, you’ve applied too much”. Since commercially made scents are highly concentrated usually two drops in four opposite directions is usually enough to do the job.
- Natural scents. – I have had exceptional success by using only natural scents found in the woods. In areas such as the ones I hunt there are hemlock and pines found throughout. I will often break a branch and rub it onto my clothes or nearby trees. I stumbled onto this idea after forgetting my cover scent at home. I decided to try it since I had nothing to lose. I had several deer within 15 yards and even after a wind shift that placed them down wind of me they remained perfectly calm. It has happened to me on a number of other occasions so it will work, especially in a pinch.
- Eliminator sprays. – The use of human scent eliminator sprays is becoming increasingly popular in today’s market. These sprays help to prevent the production of scent producing bacteria that is contained in bodily sweat. A mixture of water and baking soda will also work in the same manner. Be sure to give special attention to such areas as your groin, head, feet and armpits when applying scent eliminator sprays. Shop ‘scent elimination’ at Amazon.
- Cabin smoke. – Even though many of us have killed deer with this smell on our clothes, it can be a problem. To get close enough to a Pope and Young class animals you need everything to be right. Those wily bucks and other trophy animals have reached large sizes by being cautious and obeying their sense of smell. If they smell a hint of anything foreign, they’re gone. This is especially true if you are in a remote wilderness area. However, you may get lucky if you are hunting a more suburban area that has many houses burning wood and may have an entire hillside or valley filled with wood smoke. Then it may actually act as a cover scent. But don’t rely on that. Take your clothes off outside the cabin and place them in plastic bags. When you go out in the morning put them on outside.
- When nature calls. – It is very important to avoid “going to the bathroom” while on stand. Try to do your “paper work” before showering at the house and only urinate into a seal able plastic container if absolutely necessary while on stand. It is a good idea to carry a plastic jug with some padding tapped around it to muffle the sound while urinating into it. If you have to do other business while in the woods the best thing to do is choose an area away from your stand in an area that the animals are least likely to approach from. Then dig a shallow hole, do your business and then cover it with dirt. Only do this if it is an absolute emergency.
- Diet. – To help with such things as gas emergency bathroom calls it is important to choose your diet carefully. During the off-season pay attention to which foods “agree” with you and which ones don’t. If you find sausage is bad for you, don’t eat it during the hunting season. If it’s beans that cause problems-avoid them as well.
- Caffeine. – Before and during your hunt, avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine. Such things as coffee, soda and tea that have caffeine in them that act as a diuretic to your body. This will in turn increase the need to urinate and resulting in either a very uncomfortable hunt or an increase chance of contaminating the area.
- Candles. – Many women these days have caught on to the craze of burning candles in their homes to make them smell nice. Unfortunately for my wife she is not allowed to burn them once the hunting season has begun. These scents can be extremely strong and once you step in the area of a burning candle you have been contaminated. Even if you scent check yourself and smell nothing, – don’t believe it. A deer can smell thousands of times better than you and it is highly likely he will smell the sweet essence of ginger spice embedded in your hunting clothes from your wife’s kitchen candle.
- Red Meat. – This is the most difficult and not necessarily 100% true but anything can help. For centuries native Americans reduced their intake of red meat because they believed they would smell like predators to deer and elk. In way this is true. It has been proven that a meat eating people bodily enzymes carry a different make-up than that of Vegetarians. What is not exactly known is can an animal tell the difference? One can only experiment and find out.
These are all tried and true techniques that I have used over the years and have made me successful at taking several trophy class animals and have put very close to game animals on a regular basis. Follow these tips and techniques and you will be in the driver’s seat when it comes to beating big game’s sense of smell.