By Mark Kayser of American Hunter
This year, keep yourself and your elk hunting gear scent free during the September elk season bowhunts. Although you’re in the cooler mountain air, daytime temperatures can still exceed 70 degrees. And don’t forget about the sweat generating uphill scrambles you have as you pursue evasive elk.
It will be a struggle to be as scent invisible as you are during whitetail season. While hunting elk, put a few of the following tips to work this season and increase your odds for success.
Change It Up, Slow It Down
Pack your hunting clothes. A 1,000-foot ascent or more greets me on nearly every morning hike to my elk locations. Most are undertaken under cover of darkness so instead of soaking my hunting wear with perspiration I pack my camouflage and ascend in lightweight, poly-based layers. Most hikes may only require you to switch out shirts, but if the climb becomes outrageous, consider swapping out pants to avoid sweat saturation. Under the cover of stars you also won’t need your hat for sun shade. Stow it. That cap is a major sweat trap.
Set your wake-up alarm to give you plenty of time to unhurriedly make your climb. Stop often and let the cool, predawn air lower your body temperature between stops. The hiking breaks also give you quiet time to catch distant bugles for a target starting point.
Once you are up to your hunting elevation take a few minutes to finish cooling down. Subsequently, put some hunting technology to use. Various companies make unscented sprays and field wipes. Keep a package at the top of your backpack or in a pant’s pocket and wipe down your body before you switch to your hunting clothing.
Dry It Out and Spray It Down
If things go as planned you should be sweat-soaked again by midday. Elk have long legs and a long-range vision of where they want to bed after a night of feeding. Most mornings begin and end with you trailing far behind an elk dust trail. When you decide to break out the PB&J take off your outer layers and allow the breeze to air dry the garments.
This is also a perfect time to spray down your clothes and gear again with a scent-eliminating spray. If you don’t want to tote the weight of a 12-ounce spray bottle you can always pour half into another container. You may also opt to pre-spray with products designed to keep protecting for up to 20 days like Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer Gold. Either way, get dry.
Maybe you go light and don’t carry spray. Nevertheless, you can boost your success with nature. On warm days look for a mountain water source and rinse out any perspiration-soaked apparel. Give yourself a splash bath at the same time. Hang up your clothes to dry and then go one step further. Use a pine or cedar branch, and rub your dried clothes to add in their overpowering scent.
There is one last thing you should do. Stay downwind.