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Scent control is the name of the game during Bow Season

White-tail Buck
White-tail Buck

We all know that scent control can be very time consuming and a lot of hassle. The expense insn’t that bad, it’s just the time spent in preparation that can be an issue. However, if you really want to get in the game and be doing all you can to control scent here a few tips that will make your next trip to the woods more successful.

A big buck has one of the most extraordinary sniffers in the woods and fooling it is easier said than done. A mature deer's nose can smell 1000 times better than a human’s nose. A deer can smell human scent as far as 150-200 yards away with a slight breeze and can continue to pick up the scent for several days after. When a deer checks the wind you might see them licking their nose, this helps moisten the scent, which allows them to smell better.

Scent is the deer's biggest line of defense over both sound and sight. It is how the deer communicate with one another and how they avoid danger from predators. Deer have many scent glands and leave signs for other deer to notice. Scent is a deer's language and is a hunter's biggest challenge.

One of the best ways to fool an old wary buck is to play the wind. Being downwind of a buck with a steady stiff breeze is your best chance of getting close. The slightest breeze carries your scent molecules so if it is blowing away from the deer there is no chance for him to smell you. Wind direction is the number one factor in hunting success, especially during bow season. If you can’t avoid a swirling wind or if you are forced to get into a stand or blind with a bad wind direction only the best of hunters will be prepared enough to still be able to get close to a deer.

We’ve all seen hunters early in the morning in full camouflage putting gas in their truck, allowing gas getting fumes to get all over their clothes and then walking right into the woods and hunt for the next couple of hours wondering why they didn't see anything. They’ll blame it on the fact that "the deer weren't moving" or some other excuse and never entertains the idea that their scent scared off every deer in the county.

To trick a deer's nose you must always play the wind. You should have at least two or three stands set up for different wind directions. Be disciplined and never sit in a particular stand when the wind is not right. One sit in a stand when the wind is blowing the wrong way and you may have just ruined that spot for the season as far as shooting a mature buck. If the wind changes directions while you are on stand then climb down and move or just head back in, it isn't worth messing up a good stand location.

Today there are so many scent control products on the market that there is really no excuse for any hunter not to take advantage of them. Some of the products that produce the best results are the scent neutralizers, scent control clothes, and the soaps (body and laundry).

To start you first have to remove as many dead skin cells off you as possible. Whenever it’s possible, you should shower just before every hunt using one of the scent free body soaps and shampoos. After showering, dry off with a towel that has been washed with your hunting clothes using scent control laundry soap. There are dryer sheets on the market for scent control or you can hang your clothes outside, letting them air dry. After showering use a hunter's deodorant just in case you begin to get a little warm walking to the stand. Don’t stay in the cabin or house to long after showering. Get out so you reduce the chance of human scent contaminating you again. Always store your hunting clothes in a scent free bag. A good sized plastic garbage bag will also work.

Once arriving to your hunting location sit in the vehicle for a minute to allow any lingering exhaust fumes to blow away. It’s a good idea to get dressed into your hunting clothes in the field, nothing can sabotage your hunt like wearing your hunting clothes in your scent contaminated vehicle. Spray all your clothes, any fanny packs, equipment, and anything going to the stand with scent control. It’s also advised to wear scent control gloves and a head garment of some type, and always wear rubber boots. Sweat is a hunter's enemy. Walking slow and taking your time is your best bet.

Once you hit the stand check the wind to be sure you are set up right. Spray a breath neutralizer in your mouth or pop in a piece of hunter's gum.

Making some type of effort is better than making no effort at all. Playing the wind and following these hunting scent control tips will increase your chances of downing a trophy-sized animal this hunting season.


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