Tagging a mature whitetail buck is the cumulation of hard work, perseverance, and a bit of luck. So why is it that what seems like a lifetime achievement for some hunters, is almost a yearly ritual for others? Two words: Scent Elimination.
Researchers have found that a deer’s hearing is similar to ours, and their vision can be easily defeated with lack of movement and modern camo patterns like Truetimber Camo. Their sense of smell, however, can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 times more accurate than a human’s. Whitetails can even differentiate between six scents at one time, using thousands of sensitive receptors. To get a big buck within range you have to defeat his nose. Here’s how:
1. Take a Bath (You Stink)
|Dead Down Wind ScentPrevent Antiperspirant
Prepare to practice better hygiene during hunting season than any other time of the year. You’ve got a date with a mature whitetail, and you want to smell your best.
Start using scent-free shampoo, soap, and deodorant like the popular Dead Down Wind ScentPrevent Antiperspirant at least a week before your first hunt. It takes time to remove the scents that other products leave behind. Don’t deviate from this regimen until after hunting season.
|Dead Down Wind ScentPrevent Toothpaste
On the day of a hunt, wake up early enough to take a shower before heading out. It’s essential to wash off all of the oils and scent built up from the night before. Don’t forget to use a towel washed in scent-free detergent and brush your teeth using scent-free toothpaste to hide that morning breath. You’ll find that this will not only give you an increased sense of confidence, but you’ll also be more comfortable and alert in the stand.
Freak Tip: Use scent-free soaps and deodorant year-round to eliminate odors when checking trail cameras, planting food plots, or hanging stands.
2. Wash & Dry Your Hunting Clothing Before the First Hunt
Along with personal hygiene, doing a load of laundry is typically at the bottom of a hunter’s to-do list. Check the routine of any professional, however, and you’ll find that starting a spin-cycle is a top priority.
Before your first hunt, wash all of your hunting clothing—even your socks, long-johns, and underwear—in scent-free detergent. Be sure to also use scent-free dryer sheets or dry your clothing outside. When your laundry is complete, immediately transfer clothing to an air-tight container.
Throughout the season wash your clothing as often as possible. It’s especially essential after hunting on a hot day or working up a good sweat walking to the stand. Don’t succumb to the myth that your clothing will “smell more like the woods” after each hunt. The bacteria and odor your body produces is far more potent than anything the “woods” will ever mask.
Freak Tip: To avoid detergent residue from your family’s wash, purchase a separate washer & dryer for use only with scent-free soaps. A used, high-capacity set will typically do the trick, and look right at home in your basement, garage, or hunting camp.
3. Be a Mad Scientist With Cutting-Edge Hunting Technology
|Ozonics DriWash Bag
Ozone Scent-Elimination is the cutting-edge of hunting technology, and it can be an absolute lifesaver during a busy season. Ozone generators create an unstable (but safe) O3 molecule that rapidly binds with any odor-causing bacteria it comes in contact with. After binding, bacteria is converted to an odorless oxygen molecule. Scents are not covered up, they are actually eliminated.
While Ozone is not a complete substitute for good hygiene and clothing care, it can help fill in any gaps that you may have missed. Ozone closet like the ScentCrusher OZONE Travel Closet and bags are excellent options for “dry washing” clothing between hunts, or eliminating odors on gear that can’t be put in a standard washer & dryer. (Think treestand harnesses, bow releases and your hunting pack.)
|Scent Crusher OZONE Go Max Vehicle Air Cleaner
Try using a vehicle generator to eliminate lingering smells from pets, fast-food, or smoking. This will ensure you aren’t voiding your scent-free shower by picking up additional odors on your way to your hunting ground.
Freak Tip: Utilize an ozone generator in your vehicle year-round for the most effective “air-freshener” you’ve ever tried.
|Ozonics Kinetic Backpack
4. Practice Good Scent Control Habits
All the scent-free soap and technology in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t implement it consistently. While you’ll never be perfect, once you begin to think with your nose, forming good scent control habits will come naturally.
Make sure your truck or ATV is gassed up the night before. There’s nothing worse than getting fuel all over your hands on the morning of your hunt. Try to resist the urge to swing by the Quick Stop for a cup of coffee on your way to the stand. Bring your own in a Thermos, and pack your snacks in resealable bags.
It may take a few extra minutes, but always dress and undress in the field. Keep your hunting gear in an airtight container until reaching your hunting location. Bring a change of clothes for your trip home. Feel free to smirk at the guys in the local diner, eating biscuits & gravy in their hunting bibs.
Freak Tip: Sweat is the enemy. Carry heavy clothing in your hunting pack and only put it on when reaching your stand—you should feel cold when starting your hike. This will keep you warmer in the long run, and protect against odor causing bacteria.
5. Think Differently
Everyone has an uncle who kills deer every year wearing blue jeans and chain-smoking Marlboros. Don’t fall into this trap. Just because you aren’t spooking young deer, it doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right.
Mature bucks typically don’t survive to old age by making mistakes. If you tip your hand, a trophy animal will detect your presence and vanish before you even know they were there.
Have the courage to do things differently and take scent control to the extreme. Some will say you’re crazy, others will call you a freak. Just smile and let your trophy wall do the talking.
Freak Tip: As hard as it may be, don’t pet the dog on your way out the door. You can make it up to him later with a belly rub and a bite of backstrap.