Most hunters do a lot of preparation before deer season. They get all their gear together, practice their shots diligently and have their secret spot all scouted out. It’s a long process, but it’s all part of hunting.
Many folks spend all that time and effort and forget to leave the smells of home where they belong… at home. It’s no secret to hunters how important scent control is when hunting. Deer (and most other game) have an amazing sense of smell and can wind you in a heartbeat. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as spending hours stalking, only to get a glimpse of the hind-end of your prize buck.
There’s a ton of commercial scent control products out there and I’m not sure if they work or not. I keep it simple and try not to get sold on expensive products that can do the same thing as nature can do. I will wash my gear before the season with an un-scented detergent and air-dry it. Then it immediately goes into a big plastic bin. I’ll hang it out again before the hunt.
One of the easiest ways to smell like nature is to get the smell of nature on you. When I get geared up, I’ll roll in the grass, walk through thick brush and get the natural smell all over me. I try and make sure I hit all the different vegetation so I smell like everything. It’s pretty amazing at how pungent some brush is. It works better than sprays.
You can smell just like the forest and forget that you used your wives shampoo so it’s important that you wash and shampoo with un-scented soap before you head out. Never use scented deodorant, sun screen or bug spray. It’s easy to be all set and then forget that you used a stinky bug spray for the mosquitos. I forgo the spray and use a head net (it also masks your face).
One big mistake hunters make is to get all geared up and jump in the truck. They don’t realize it but they end up smelling like the inside of the truck including the stink of diesel and gas fumes by the time they get to their spot. My gear goes in the back of the truck and stays there.
Your breath is a big give away in the woods. Some hunters brush their teeth with baking soda before the hunt and it does work. The cigarette you smoked early in the morning will stay with you all day as will the coffee. I always walk along chewing a fur sprig or a green pine needle. It is an amazing breath deodorizer and readily available (and you get some vitamin C).
I do keep a bottle of commercial de-scent spray handy for spraying my pack, bow, gun or any other accessory I’m carrying. Sometimes it’s the accessories that we forget about and they can hold human smells just like clothing. It’s worth the extra time to treat whatever you’re carrying around.
De-scenting is essential in hunting but the very best way to ensure you go unnoticed is to work with the wind. If you have a condition where the wind’s not right, it’s usually better to make a new plan. You can work hard at getting rid of your scent but in the end, the wind will kill your hunt quicker than anything.