Hunting and Smell: Tips to Control Your Scent While You’re Deer Hunting

Human, meet deer.

If you’re a hunter, you know that deer have a sense of smell that rivals that of a bloodhound— and they can see and hear pretty well too. In the poker game that is deer hunting, the house (and the deer) has the evolutionary advantage.

The good news is there are ways to neutralize the deer’s sensory advantages. You already do your best to keep quiet. And you stay out of sight with quality camouflage. Now it’s time to learn about how to camouflage your scent too.

Start with Your Clothes

Most deer hunting is done in the fall and winter, meaning you’ll wear a lot of clothes to keep warm. The good thing about lots of clothes is that, if they’re treated the right way, they’ll mask many of the odors coming from your body.

Outdoor companies make enzyme-based laundry soaps that take the odors right out of your hunting gear. Make sure to wash all of your hunting clothes two days before your hunt.

Hang them outdoors to dry. It’s very important that you don’t hang your hunting clothes inside the house or dry them in the dryer. This renders your scent neutral detergent useless.

Note, this doesn’t only apply to your camo gear. It applies to everything, including socks, undershirts, underwear, facemasks, gloves, and hats.

Once everything is dry, store it in an airtight container until the day of your hunt.

Use Scent Eliminators

There are hundreds of scent elimination products on the market. Here are some of the products available at Gander Outdoors. Try out these products, which range from portable air cleaners to neutralizing sprays. See what works best for you.

Another option is scent eliminating clothing. Carbon is a known scent reducer. Clothes made with carbon fibers embedded in them absorb odors before they leave your body.

And many of them are made with more carbon concentrated in the areas of your body that create more scent. They’re a great investment for a long-term hunting career. You can get clothing to cover every part of your body with carbon built into it.

It’s important to store this specialty clothing correctly. A carbon-lined tote is the best way to go to hold your gear when you’re not hunting. This keeps it from absorbing odors from the storage area of your home or shop.

Hygiene is Important

Not only is it important to wash your clothes in special, odor-elimination detergent, but you also need to wash your body in something similar. Try scent-free body wash and shampoo.

They also make scent-free specialty products like deodorant, toothpaste, and body lotion. Keep odorless wipes with you so you can clean up if you need to while you’re in the field.

It’s always tempting to do “No Shave November” in preparation for hunting season, but it’s actually better to keep your hair cut as short as possible. Thick areas of hair give off more smell. Shave your beard and cut your hair short before hunting.

If you’re worried about your face getting cold, invest in a good facemask. As we mentioned, there are carbon fiber facemasks that will block almost all odors.

Brush your teeth with your scent neutral toothpaste or with hydrogen peroxide right before you go out. And if you can, avoid smelly foods like garlic and coffee before you hunt. If your friends can smell your breath, so can the deer!

Keep hydrated while in the field. This keeps odors from forming in your mouth. Plus, it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated.

While we’re on the subject of hydration, you may wonder about urinating while deer hunting. Should you hold it? Should you make a run for the truck? Or should you bring along a plastic bottle or a portable urinal?

The answer is up to you. Recent research says that deer aren’t spooked by the smell of human urine. If anything, they may get curious by the smell and come closer. Do what you’re most comfortable doing when it comes to the urges of mother nature.

Don’t Forget About Your Gear

When you’re working on the smell of your clothes and your body, don’t forget about your gear. Your boots are the most important piece of gear to pay attention to. They track unwanted scent around with you anywhere you go.

It’s best to keep them in an airtight or scent neutral container until right before you step into the woods. And use a scent eliminating spray on the inside and outside. Don’t wear your designated hunting boots anywhere but the hunt.

This is especially true if you work around gas or diesel. Petroleum products will send deer packing fast. So you never want your boots or your body to smell like gas. Fill up your vehicle a few days before your hunt.

If you use a backpack to carry your gear, wash it in scent neutral soap along with your clothes. Let it dry outside and store it airtight as well. Make sure any food or drinks you bring are sealed up in ziplock bags or airtight containers.

This applies to your bow or gun too. Use scent-free wipes to wipe down the grips, barrel, and arrows before you hit the trail.

Create a Routine

It’s important that your scent control routine be just that: a routine. Scent control is not something you can do sometimes. Or as a spur-of-the-moment decision. Good scent control requires some preparation ahead of time.

Scout out your hunting area several weeks before you plan to hunt. Go there several times and in different weather patterns so you know how the wind swirls around the area.

Set up your stand (or where you plan to sit) in the area with the least amount of wind. No matter how much scent eliminator you use, if the wind is blowing your scent right at approaching deer, they’ll never come toward you.

Do all of your preparation in the hunting area in scent neutral clothing. It takes days or even weeks for your scent to leave an area. So try your best to keep from leaving your scent mark in the first place.

There are as many scent attractants on the market as there are eliminators. Using these products depends on your hunting plan. It also depends on your location and the time of year.

Use doe urine before and after the rut. Dominant buck urine works best in the early season to attract other bucks looking out for the male competition. And Estrus urine works during the rut when no buck can resist the smell.

The products will give you some ideas for when and how to spread the scents around your hunting area. Or you can talk with one of the professionals at Gander Outdoors for the best advice and ideas on how to lure the biggest buck to you.

Hunting and Smell Go Hand in Hand

Remember, hunting is all about playing the game of chance with nature. Deer have a significant advantage in that they can smell you from great distances. But you can take steps to create a scent control routine to throw the deer off your tracks.

Start by washing your clothes and your body in special, odor neutralizing soaps. Store everything in airtight containers after you’ve let it dry outside. Wait until you reach your hunting grounds to don your boots and gear to prevent human scent from creeping in.

Don’t forget to keep your gear clean too. Wipe down your gun or bow with a scent neutralizing wipe before you venture out. And use scent eliminators and scent attractants to your advantage out in the field.

Need to talk to an expert? We’ve got them here at Gander Outdoors! Check out our store locator to find a store near you. Our experts are here to help you bring in the big one this hunting season!

Tips to control your scent while you're deer hunting

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