Scent Control For Bowhunting Should Begin Today

You stink. Nothing personal, but you do — to a deer anyway. Maybe your family and friends also find you offensive in the olfactory sense, but I won’t speculate on that. To a deer, I stink, too, because as human carnivores, we are a predator species.

From the time our ancient ancestors began pursuing four-legged creatures with rocks, spears, and arrows, we have been their foe. They know our common scent well, and will do whatever it takes to keep as much distance between themselves and our stench as possible.

Babe Winkelman
Babe Winkelman

So what can you do about it? How can you combat a sense of smell so magnificent that a deer can not only smell you from more than 200 yards away– but can also pinpoint your exact location? How can you outwit a nose so keen that it can smell acorns and other food that is UNDER WATER? How can you cheat a snout that can detect your footprint two hours after you walked through a spot — and know that the track is two hours old?

Well, from my experience, you can’t! Sorry, but that’s the way I feel. However, you can suppress a deer’s ability to sniff you out. You can’t eliminate your scent, but you can minimize it. And by minimizing it, you can maximize your odds of getting inside good bow range to arrow the whitetail of your dreams. Here are some scent-control tactics you can use this archery season.

Think Clean
Before each and every big game hunt, it’s important to clean your skin and hair with a high quality scent-free soap, such as Hunter’s Specialties Scent A-Way. When washing, be thorough and get behind your ears, in your ears, and even inside your nostrils. While afield, when hard work can create perspiration and unwanted odor, I always carry a number of portable H.S. wipes, which contain the same active scent-killing ingredients.

Wash all your outerwear and fabric accessories too with dependable scent-free laundry detergent made for hunters. Then store your gear in scent-free bags. When getting dressed for hunting, do so in the field ­– not indoors where human scent is thick.

Dress For Success
There are many clothing manufacturers today that offer great camouflaged hunting clothing with fabrics designed for scent control. Some use activated carbon to “adsorb” scent molecules, while others use silver compounds, anti-microbials, etc. Many savvy hunters use a combination of different clothing technologies for a double-whammy approach to scent elimination. This is not a bad idea.

Of all the garments available, perhaps the most critical is the hood/facemask. Most human scent comes from the head, nose, and mouth. Heck, even your eyes have a smell to them! Keep the breath contained and you’ll experience results. In fact, your breath is such a factor that I know some bowhunters who only eat bland vegetables during hunting season so their odor will resemble that of a herbivore. As for myself, I can’t give up a good steak no matter what.

Always wear scent-free gloves, too. Your hands are odor magnets since they’re used all day, every day to do “dirty deeds.” such as pumping gas, petting your dog, etc. And it’s not only important to wear gloves when you’re hunting. It’s also critical when hanging treestands, checking trail cameras, making mock scrapes, or doing anything that requires touching things on the deer’s home turf.

Another “must-have,” is rubber boots. Trappers have long realized their importance when setting traps for keen-nosed critters such as fox, coyotes, and raccoons. Knee-highs are perfect for most situations, but if you have to traverse a lot of waist-high grass and cross strategic deer trails to get to your spot, rubber hip boots can come in handy, too.

Neutralize, Naturalize
Scent-elimination sprays work. I’m sure of it because when I started using them I experienced profound results. The key to using them is to USE them. Don’t skimp. Spray EVERYTHING! This includes the treestand, bow, arrows, release, pack, rattling antlers — everything!

Once you have yourself and your gear scent-free, it’s sometimes a good idea to introduce natural scents to yourself. If I see a steaming pile of fresh deer droppings, I’ll intentionally step in them. See some sticky pine sap? I might rub a boot against that, too. Maybe this doesn’t affect things one way or another, but it gives me confidence knowing that I smell like I belong in the woods. Earth scent wafers give me the same feeling of confidence.

The hunting industry has come a long way in helping bowhunters get a grip on scent control. There are even specialty products such as chewing gum and capsules that promise to eliminate human odor from the inside out.

But like I said before, in my opinion “elimination” is out of the question. A deer’s nose is just too good. Scent minimization, however, is within everyone’s reach. Dedicate yourself to it and you will enjoy better bowhunting this season.

Good Hunting!

Shop Sportsman’s Guide fine selection of Scents and Scent Eliminators!

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One Response to “Scent Control For Bowhunting Should Begin Today”

  1. Marshall

    I’m a beginning bow hunter and I’m learning as much as I can. Thanks for a good article. This was helpful.

    Reply