After a week of washing, using the special unscented shampoo and soap for hunters, my hair looks like I’ve been rubbing balloons on it! I’ve laundered anything I’ll use when hunting, including clothes, underwear and even towels, in unscented detergent for hunters.
Yet with all the special preparations, I still got “busted” by deer bowhunting. Finally I realized a detail I’d been overlooking.
What’s the first thing that happens when I see a shooter buck? My heart and breath rates increase. If you look up “buck fever” in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture there. I start breathing harder — sending breath odors right to the deer I’m watching!
Here’s how odors get on our breath. Our food is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, where it’s carried to the lungs before it’s given off as breath. If you haven’t thought about adding breath control products to your pre-hunt regimen, here are a couple facts that may convince you:
Every day, we move 10,000 liters of air in and out of our lungs. And two-thirds of a deer’s brain is dedicated to perception and evaluation of odors.
According to medical research, 80 percent of scent given off by humans is related to breath.
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A deer’s nose is filled with an intricate system of nasal passages that contain millions of olfactory receptor sites.
So why do we overlook that detail?
“It’s definitely overlooked, I think because it’s hard to put a finger on it and say how potentially damaging it is — I don’t know how to prove it,” said Keith Edberg, operations manager for Robinson Outdoors. “Mouth odor is a combination of what you eat, the presence of bacteria — everybody’s different — but I think we can agree that it has an effect.
“We’re an odor-producing factory,” he added. “But I think we can do more damage with our breath, because it’s something that we’re pushing out, away from our bodies.”
Robinson makes Scent Shield Sportsmen’s Edge Gum, a blend of natural microbials, which are a combination of oxygenating compounds, zinc gluconate and chlorophyllin, with an apple flavor. Edberg said that his own regimen is two-fold.
“We also have many odors emanating from our neck and head, so I use a head cover and face mask,” he said. “And I also use the gum.”
Joe Sahm, consumer services specialist for Hunter Specialties, said that hunters overlook breath-masking products because they may not be aware of the products that are available. And he said that the products can definitely help give hunters an edge.
“To be honest, I think that’s the major reason deer bust you,” Sahm said. “It’s common that heart rate and respirations increase, and we’re sending that scent away from us.”
Hunter Specialties makes a Fresh Breath Kit, which includes a Scent-away toothpaste, Scent-away breath mints and mouth rinse with micro-dent. The mints are made a natural mint.
“We take the time and effort to keep our bodies, clothes and gear scent free,” said Hunter Specialties pro staffer Matt Morrett. “This is just another step in scent elimination, and it’s very important to keep our mouths from emitting any unwanted odors.”
A newer product, which debuted at the 2008 ATA show is the Smootchie, which is an active carbon face mask, shaped like a surgical mask. It’s disposable, and designed to absorb scents and odors from breath. Since it’s debut, it’s been renamed the Breath-Taker.
Garry Kirschner said the idea for the Breath-Taker evolved over a few years of frustrating deer hunting.
“I was de-scenting clothes, taking care with all my preparations, but I could tell by the way deer acted that they could still scent me — and being a smoker didn’t help,” he said. “Even if I brushed my teeth and used mouthwash, that smoker smell still lingered.
“I’d do everything right, and knew I hadn’t moved, and over and over again I’d see deer hit a zone around the stand and go into high alert,” Kirschner added. “Through the process of elimination I came up with the idea that it was my breath that was ruining my hunting, and came up with the Smootchie (his kids came up with the name).”
During the hunting season before the ATA show, Kirschner wore the mask while hunting, and knew instantly he was on to something.
“I was walking out in the dark and had deer run up to me in the field,” he said. “I stood still and had 18 deer walk right past me.”
Kirschner said that the Breath-Taker is great for archery hunters because its design allows for the common behind-the-ear anchor point. In addition, it’s really comfortable to wear and keeps your face warm, he said. And if you’re a smoker, or you have a cold, the “re-breathing” effect of wearing the mask can help keep you from coughing, he added.
Although it’s disposable, after using the Breath-Taker as a face mask it can also be used in boots to absorb odor. Kirschner also wears his Breath-Taker while field-dressing animals, because it keeps him from breathing in those odors.
Be sure to order the Breath-Taker Facemask today!
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