Most deer hunters have an opinion about scent control. Some hunters swear that carbon suits work. Others swear that scent cover sprays work. Still others swear that none of them work. Why do some hunters believe enough human scent can be eliminated to fool a deer's sniffer while others believe it's impossible to fool the nose of a whitetail? The answer is simple. Hunters who have had success with scent-control products believe in them; those who haven't experienced success with them don't.
The late Jeff Murray, well-known whitetail expert and author of "The Moon Guide," said wearing carbon-lined garments like Scent-Lok have increased his success rate on mature whitetail bucks.
The big question is why do scent-control products work for some and not others? I've talked with many hunters who believe in scent control, and I believe I have found the common denominator that connects them: hunters who believe in scent control take it seriously, and there are a series of steps hunters must go through to minimize human odor. Missing one of the steps results in a deer smelling the hunter.
One of the most popular ways to be minimize human odor is to wear a carbon-lined suit, such as those made by Scent-Lok. There has been a lot of controversy about whether carbon suits work. If you have any doubt that they work, check out the website scentlokscience.com. This website reveals testing performed by an independent lab on the effectiveness of carbon suits. The testing proves that carbon masks human stink, but if you don't take care of your carbon suit properly, you won't have good results with scent-control garments.
For a carbon suit to be effective, it must be activated in a dryer for 40 minutes. Once the suit has been activated, place it in a scent-free container until you get to the woods. This is where many hunters go wrong. Once they've activated their suit, they place it in the back of their truck or hang it in their closet. During this period the suit attracts odors, whether they're from the coat on the hanger next to it or fuel vapors from your last fill-up.
The only way to ensure your suit will perform flawlessly is to make sure it is scent-free. Scent-Lok and other companies have scent-free bags that you can store your suit in to make sure it remains scent-free. ScenTote, a company that is relatively new to the scent-control industry, makes a tote that is designed for storing carbon suits and other hunting clothes. The tote has an activated carbon web in the lid of the tote that helps you keep your clothes scent-free. They make a plastic tote and a new duffle bag style tote.
Spraying your boots and gear with a scent eliminating spray before entering the woods is always a good idea.
Before leaving for the woods, take a shower to ensure you have eliminated as much of your human odor as possible. The less human odor you have on your body, the better. When wearing a carbon suit, it is very important to make sure you wear the hood and gloves. Human breath and hair gives off a tremendous amount of odor. If you are going to wear a suit, the entire suit must be worn for it to be effective.
In addition to the hood and gloves, it is also important to make sure your feet are scent free. Testing reveals that the nose of a whitetail detects human odor left behind by your boots days after you leave the woods. To make sure your boots aren't contaminated, keep your hunting boots in a scent-free container when you are not wearing them. Wearing your hunting boots to the store and then into the woods is a big no-no.
Wearing scent-control socks is another way to reduce foot odor. Before putting your boots on, spray them down with some type of odor reducer. Wildlife Research Center makes a variety of odor reducers that include a dirt cover scent. Using this type of spray reduces the odor on your boots and makes them smell like dirt. Spray down any equipment that you might bring into the woods with you. Your bow and other gear may have foreign odors on them that could spook a deer.
If you prefer to use scent sprays in conjunction with regular camouflage clothes, you may experience success. The key is to make sure all of your clothes stay scent-free before and after each hunt. Make sure you spray down your clothes with the spray before entering the woods. Some companies make sprays that can be applied to your hair and sprayed in your mouth to help eliminate your breath and hair odor.
To achieve success with sprays, it is extremely important to use scent control body soaps and shampoos when showering. Many of these soaps are scent-free and help eliminate more human odor than your conventional soaps and shampoos. Using scent-free deodorant is also a plus. Scent-free deodorant crystals can also be used. One crystal is said to last up to ten years.
Chlorophyll tablets are another way to help eliminate human body odor. Chlorophyll pills have been around for years and have been prescribed by doctors to individuals with extremely bad breath or body odor. In recent years, more hunters have started using these pills to help eliminate human odor from the inside out. Most humans smell like carnivores to big game animals. According to chlorophyll pill makers, taking chlorophyll pills helps eliminate human odor at the metabolic level.
Wear a carbon-lined hood like this one — a large amount of human odor is given off by the head and mouth.
Chewing gum containing chlorophyll has become popular with hunters to help mask breath odor. Chewing chlorophyll gum helps hide one of the worst odors given off by the human body -- breath!
I've interviewed many well-known big buck hunters over the years. These hunters all have one thing in common. They all believe that the only way to regularly tag large bucks is to be as scent-free as possible. Some big buck hunters use carbon suits to make sure they are covered. Others rely on odor-eliminating sprays. I've heard of hunters shaving off all of their body hair before the hunting season opens to help reduce their human odor. Regardless of the method you choose to use, do yourself a favor. Eliminate as much of your human odor as you can before entering the woods this fall. Your success rate should increase if you do.
Hunters who build mock scrapes and hang drippers over scrapes should always wear rubber gloves and be as scent-free as possible.
The reason many hunters get winded when using scent-control products is because they cut corners in the scent-elimination process. According to Ron Bice from the Wildlife Research Center, anything you do to help reduce human odor helps. Bice explains, "The nose of a deer is like a smoke detector. It takes a certain amount of human odor to make the detector go off. Scent control products make deer think that you are much further away than you really are so the detector won't go off. That being said, one squirt of spray or one carbon coat won't get the job done. If you want to eliminate enough of the odor to fool the nose of a deer when they are twenty yards away, you must follow a routine.
The late Jeff Murray, a well-known big-buck hunter, had a routine that worked well for him. "I shower before hunting with scent eliminating soap. When I get into the woods, I spray down my boots and gear with scent spray. Then, I wait to slip on my Scent-Lok suit, which is stored in a scent-free container, until I reach the woods. I always wear Scent-Lok gloves and the Scent-Lok hood," Murray once said. "When returning to the truck, my carbon clothes are put back into the scent-free container. Once I have used the carbon suit for about forty hours, I reactivate it in the dryer. By following the same routine each time I go hunting, I'm positive that I don't reek like a human. Being as scent-free as possible before putting on my carbon suit allows me to prolong the life of the carbon suit and increase its overall effectiveness. The key to my success is eliminating as much human odor as possible, so when a buck is within bow range, he thinks I'm hundreds of yards away because he only smells a faint amount of human odor."
My routine to eliminate odor before climbing into my stand is a lot of work, and there is no question that it adds extra time and preparation to my hunt. But I think the extra time is well-warranted. Every time I feel like cutting a corner, I think of big buck experts like Myles Keller and Jeff Murray who do whatever it takes to eliminate human odor. If they are willing to take a few extra minutes each day to make sure they are scent free, I know I need to do it too. Scent control is a lot of work, but once you've harvested a monster buck directly downwind from you that never knew you were there, all the time you invested will be worth it.