I’m quite sure that we’ve all had times in the deer woods that you have had a deer blow at you and you never saw it! If you haven’t you haven’t been hunting for very long! I would like to talk to you about some deer hunting scent control tips that will make this less of an occurrence , and at the same time develop a better sense of detail in our hunting strategies !
What scent control means to deer hunting !
For centuries mankind has attempted to lock himself into a battle of wits with some pretty hard to fool noses in order to provide for and feed his family and community! And I believe that it is safe to say that the only wild animals that have fallen prey to man while being downwind were either in a period of the breeding season that makes him stupid like what we deer hunters call the rut, or that animal was young and not yet experienced enough to know that he or she was in danger!
But one thing is absolutely for sure! We have not figured out how to fool that nose !
Although there will likely be some who disagree with me I think it’s pretty safe to say that scent control hunting clothing or even the best scent control sprays will absolutely fool a deer’s nose ! Ain’t happening!
I use scent control clothing, boots and sprays too! But I’m not fooling myself into thinking that I’m fooling a deer’s nose! I’m just trying to do every little thing I can to help tip the odds in my favor. And the more little things you do the better!
While I do have a scent control regiment that I go through, I will admit that I can’t absolutely prove that any of it works 100%! But I can guarantee one of them works and I am 100% certain that I won’t step foot into the woods if I’m sure there is a big buck there unless I have it!
The absolute importance of rubber boots !
I was a little behind the curve on getting on board with the rubber boot movement ! But the more I thought about the deer I had seen cross my path upwind and get nervous enough to vacate the area and the number of trail camera photos I saw deer acting very nervous the night I filled my feeders and changed camera batteries made me start looking closer!
I’m sure that someone reading this article will argue that they had a deer follow them right to their stand one morning while wearing a dirty pair of Reeboks ! I don’t doubt it at all. and I wouldn’t doubt that someone has had a mature wall hanger follow him right to the tree he was sitting in !
What I am saying is that this is the exception and not the rule ! You are not going to make a living in the deer woods expecting such behavior from deer !
I can remember one cold rainy morning when two does followed right in my tracks straight to where I was sitting on the ground, leaned against a cedar tree! It was a cold, rainy morning with the wind in my face, and the lead doe got a ride home in the back of my truck! But 9 out of 10 times that isn’t going to happen !
Too many people taylor the way they hunt based on these one off occurrences that may never happen again.
I became a real believer in rubber boots and that is the way I will continue to hunt as long as I hunt !
Not only do I hunt with rubber boots, but I also wear rubber boots and rubber gloves when I go in and out of the woods managing cameras and feeders, and the results have been astounding to say the least!
My sightings of deer while hunting has greatly increased and their behavior is noticeably calmer when they are in the area I used to travel to and from my stands. I have far fewer deer get spooked or even look as though they sense my presence when they cross my trail I travel!
And don’t think that you have to spend a lot of money and become a yuppie hunter to be effective !
I wear a pair of Muck rubber boots for several reasons ! The most important of the reasons is that they help to keep my trail scent under control as we have already mentioned and an equally important reason is that they were free! Yep ! A friend gave me the Muck boots because they didn’t fit him and he lost the receipt where he purchased them !
Now I won’t lie and say that there is no upside to having Muck, Lacrosse or one of the other styles of rubber boots ! There are advantages. Advantages like comfort and warmth. My Muck boots have 600 grams of thinsulate and they help keep my feet warm when the temperatures drop. They also have a soft sole and nicely padded insole that help a lot in the comfort department on long walks to and from my stand.
But in all honesty, other than these two factors the cheap rubber farm boots from Wal-Mart are just as good and effective in the area of scent control, and they have a great all terrain sole for muddy situations. I haven’t made my mind up whether I will replace my failing old Muck boots with another pair of Mucks, or just opt for a great pair of wool socks and the Wal-Mart el-cheapos !
In the interest of keeping it real and being honest, I will likely be wearing the green Wal-Mart rubber boots after this coming year and not think twice !
Preparing your travel routes !
Nothing I tell you in this article will be more important that preparing your travel routes !
My day starts off with a set way of doing things when I’m getting ready for hunting season! And it never changes !
I start by washing the inside of my washing machine with 2 cycles empty and using scent free soap. Usually the cheapest hunting soap from Wal-Mart. Then I wash my hunting clothes twice in cold water and scent free soap. After the washing is done I hang my hunting clothes outside to air dry. I do this a couple of weeks before the season in hopes that they will also be rained on a couple of times .
Then I put a complete outfit(Shirt underwear, pants, socks etc into one of my scent lock drawstring bags. I then place a few twigs of cedar in and shut it up. I have two of these bags, so I will have two outfits ready.
To be honest I got the scent lock bags at a hunting expo show for free. I would feel just as confident with a scent free plastic trash bag. Told you I like to keep it real !
Part of my pre-hunt ritual is bathing in scent free soap and drying with a towel I washed in scent free soap. When handling the clothes after they have been washed I wear rubber gloves ! I want to do every little step possible because they add up! Ther are people who wash their cloths in activated carbon and have a much bigger and complex ritual. That’s great if that is what they want to do! There’s nothing wrong with it!
But I don’t think that you will fool a deer’s nose, even with these elaborate steps. I just want to keep as much human scent fabric softener etc off my clothes. And I never put my hunting clothes on until I’m at the property and heading to my stand. That way gas and scents in my vehicle don’t get on my clothes.
And even though people go to such a lengthy ordeal and further, they never think about the way they enter the woods!
The entry to your stand is just as important as any other aspect of getting ready for the season with all your scent control techniques! If you properly store your rubber hunting boots your trail should be pretty well cloaked, but the leaves, limbs and other vegetation that is in the trail that you have to travel, can be your undoing!
A month before the season opens I go into the woods with a pair of cutters and cut all the vegetation back out of my trail. If you leave one twig, you may brush against it with your clothes or hand and leave that one scent patch of evidence in the woods for a deer to bust you with. Cutting these travel routes back is a great safeguard against this!
Another trick I use is liberally placing reflective trail markers every 20 or so feet. You may have been to your stand a hundred times and can find it blind folded! But in the dark, the simple incident of getting a few feet off your trail and into scent holding vegetation can spell disaster!
I use a tiny and very dim light when traveling to my stand in the early morning darkness. It is a mag light that holds one AAA Battery. By clearing my trails and placing reflective markers
I can get to my stand quicker and without using a brighter light that may spook even more deer, and not getting off my trail and spreading scent.
The Best Scent Control Spray
Honestly I have seen little difference in scent control sprays ! I have used them all and have never seen a true stand out circumstance or situation that told me that one was better than the others ! If you have a favorite and you have a reason for it, I would love to hear about it! Leave a Comment telling what brand and why you prefer it.
For now, I plan on using the Wildlife research 99% stuff because I have almost an entire bottle left from last year. If you tell me why you love yours , I’ll likely use it after the 99% runs out.
The only absolute input I can give on the scent control sprays is that I open the bottle before I buy it. If it smells like dish washing liquid or the old soap bubble stuff we used to get as kids I don’t buy it! If I can smell it, I know the deer can!
Absolutely nothing can trump wind direction
If you aren’t interested in wind direction you may as well forget everything we talked about before this, because for you to see much less harvest a trophy buck or a big old 5 year old doe, you will have to be very lucky! That’s no joke!
The native Americans used the wind to their favor religiously because if they didn’t their families would starve ! They had to get very close to their game with primitive archery equipment and couldn’t take chances that the deer would smell them ! It wasn’t like they could harvest the food that kept their family fed from 50 yards like you can with a Matthews Halon or something!
If a deer approaches you from downwind, you better take the shot immediately if he hasn’t run yet! Because once he catches your scent he is gone ! That doesn’t change ! I don’t care how good you are at every other aspect of hunting, if you blow the call on wind direction you ain’t dragging deer!
I bought a cheap little orange bottle full of silica powder called a Windicator a few years ago and have used them since !
I use the Windicator when I’m going to my stand. I will send up a little puff and then choose which stand I hunt based on which way the wind is blowing. If I’m in the stand and the wind changes, I will likely get down if it persists to be a bad wind and quietly move to anther stand .
The Wild Card !
Please don’t think I’m nuts for what I am about to say, OK?
Last year I won a device that I was going to sell, but have since decided to keep it and test it out thoroughly for a review on my website.! The device is an Ozonics Scent eliminator system! OK! Stop Laughing !
I started towards the end of last season with this little joker and didn’t get a lot of opportunity with it, because I didn’t get it until about half way through the season. We developed a major coyote issue and it seemed like the deer went elsewhere for a while ! So I had multiple hunting opportunities after Thanksgiving where I didn’t see a squirrel much less a Whitetail Deer!
But I had two experiences I can tell you about. Neither one is absolutely a definitive answer to whether the Ozonics is legit, but there are some interesting tidbits I would like to report.
Christmas eve 2017 was just another late season hunting day when I was seeing absolutely nothing but a few squirrels! I had almost talked myself into leaving after the morning hunt and going home so I could watch one of the less significant college football bowl games. But that changed and I started getting a little more optimistic!
About 10:00 am I had a small 4 point buck ease into the area right to my left and absolutely down wind! I started around with my rifle to get ready in case a bigger buck came in on the same trail!
When this smaller buck crossed into my wind he stopped and looked in my direction! I figured he had scented me and I was seconds from him blowing out. But he just stood there ! He licked his nose for what seemed like 5 minutes and kept checking the wind. After what was actually about a minute he went about his business and looked up and in my direction several times. The only thing I could think about was the Ozonics that was attached to the tree right above my head!
With a new-found excitement I went back to my stand about 3:00 that afternoon and didn’t see anything until about 30 minutes before dark. Then two does came out directly in front of me Another doe with a fawn joined in. While watching the doe and fawn, one of the does moved into my wind and started wheezing and licking her nose. She did that for just a minute and turned and went back the way she has\d come, but calmly walking with no signs of being spooked!
The doe with the fawn came right down the same trail and stopped just like the previous doe. She knew something was up but just didn’t know what it was ! And after a few more minutes she took her baby back into the woods ! Normally I would expect these deer to bust me and take off, but they didn’t! Was it the Ozonics? I don’t know, that is why I’m going to test it really hard this season and get back to you with a real world and honest review !
I can say that the machine emits what smells like a very faint smell of wires getting hot. Kind of like a hair dryer, but not as strong. The info I have read says that this smell is ozone. I honestly don’t know, but you will get an honest review with the technical; stuff as soon as I’m done !
We have talked about the importance of Deer hunting scent control and I have shared some of my tips! If you have more to add, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions ! Feedback is how I better serve my audience and I appreciate it1
Until next time, have a great day, and see ya in the deer woods !