Recently I had an article on this website that detailed tips for scent control. There was a lot of positive response from people that wanted to see more on this subject. So in this multi-part series, I will detail tried and true tips on how to minimize the two things that destroy more hunts than anything else- human scent and human-related scents.
The first part of this series will detail how to properly prepare for the hunt. Some of these tips you will have already seen if you read my last scent control article and there will be some new information as well. The preparation for the hunt part of this series will detail how to prepare your body, equipment, and clothing for the hunt. Everything that you should be doing before you even leaves the house. Some of you may think that a few of these things may be extreme, but I do all of these things to consistently get close to deer while hunting or scouting.
A. How to prepare your clothing for the hunt.
1. The first step is to thoroughly wash out your clothes washer. Be sure to clean out any residual detergents that are usually left behind in the washtub. Especially right on top of the washer’s agitator. It is on the agitator that you will often find most of the residual detergents caked on the top.
Then wash your hunting clothes in a scent-free detergent made for hunters and/or baking soda. I will use both of these products simultaneously while washing out my hunting clothes. These kinds of detergents also contain no UV brighteners and if you think the Ultra Violet killers are a bunch malarkey, then wash your clothes in regular detergents and step next to a UV light at night. You’ll then see how much you are glowing.
The wash them in the products I mentioned above and after a few washes, the clothes will as dull as tree bark. Even the military is using UV killer detergents these days to reduce their human signatures to high tech nighttime imaging equipment.
2. The next step is to immediately dry them. You don’t want them to lay in the washer or dryer long while wet since this will help produce mildew. I will immediately put them in the dryer with earth scent dryer sheets. I will also make sure that the lint trap is also cleaned out to help prevent contaminating the clothes with back-feeding scents through the vent. If some of your clothes can’t be tumbled dry, it is ok to let them air dry. You must be sure that they are thoroughly dry before going on to the next step of the process.
3. The next step is storing your clothes. You don’t want to hang them in a closet or out in the open where common odors can invade the material. Place them in airtight plastic containers or plastic garbage bags. Also, when storing them in such a way, find out what kind of natural scents are in the area you are hunting.
If pine is in the immediate area you’re hunting put some pine branches in with your clothes.
If it is hemlock or cedar, use either of them.
This will help impregnate the clothing with a natural scent that deer are used to. It is important to do this no less than one week prior to the hunt so there is enough time for the scent to take effect on the fabric.
Applying cover scents. – Commercial cover scents applied on a cloth and placed in the container with your hunting clothes can work in place of natural vegetation, but extra care should be used. Commercial cover scents are much more concentrated so it is important to use very little of these scents for clothing storage. Remember, too much cover scent is like not having any at all and could ruin a hunt just the same. If you smell your clothes and you can barely smell any natural woodland scents- that’s what you want. Deer smell about 10,000 times better than a human’s so anything you can smell, they smell a lot better than you do.
It is also important to remember to handle the clothing as little as possible. Not allowing it to lay on the floor at all and holding them out and away from your body while putting them in your storage containers is also important.
B. How to prepare your equipment for the hunt.
The next step is the equipment preparation. Cleaning, oiling, and greasing your bows and firearms should be done well in advance of the hunt to allow harmful odors from oils and greases to dissipate before the hunt takes place. Any paint touch-ups on tree stands or other equipment should also be done well in advance for the same reason. This kind of maintenance I like to do at least two weeks in advance when possible.
One often-overlooked piece of equipment is the hand sling that many archers have on their bows. After hours of practicing in warmer temperatures, these slings become very soiled with sweat. This accessory should be washed thoroughly in scent-free detergents before the hunt as well.
Another important aspect to your hunting clothes is to not “over wear” them. Many hunters go through a lot of trouble to get their clothes clean and then wear that same set of “cammies” for a week. It is important to keep rotating between different sets of camouflage and be washing the soiled ones out on a regular basis.
C. How to prepare yourself for the hunt.
Now that you have your clothing and equipment ready for the hunt. Now is the time to prepare yourself.
1. The night before the hunt it is important to eliminate drinking anything that contains caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic and will make the urge to urinate stronger. A definite no-no while on the quest for big whitetails. It is also important to eliminate any foods that you know don’t agree with your system and other foods that have strong odors such as onions and peppers for example.
2. It is also important to avoid being around any kind of foreign odors from fires, fossil fuels, scented candles, perfumes, and aftershaves. This is why it is important to fuel your vehicle up before those harmful scent molecules come into contact with your hunting clothes. Scent molecules floating around in the air will destroy everything you attempted to achieve if you don your hunting clothes and then decide to fuel up.
3. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco should be avoided at all costs as well. It is even important to avoid being around second-hand smoke as well. I have literally smelled guys 100 yards away, coming in the woods before I even saw them because I smelled their cigarette smoke first. Imagine how strong that smells to a deer if a human can smell it at that distance.
4. I like to shower(not bath) on the morning of the hunt. I may shower the night before as well, but I will also shower in the morning right before the hunt. This helps reduce the scent as much as possible. I use an unscented hunter’s hair and body soap while showering. I will pay special attention to areas that produce more odors than others. Areas like hair, armpits, and other unmentionable areas should be areas to key in on. I also like to use a body scrub brush over my entire body while showering. This will help remove dead or dying skin that will increase bodily odors.
5. Once I have showered, I will dry off with towels that have been washed in an unscented hunter’s detergent as well. It does no good to wash in unscented detergents only to dry off with a towel that smells like a fresh mountain spring. Once I have dried off I will then apply an unscented underarm deodorant and anti-perspirant. I will apply this not only under my arms but also behind the knees and to my feet as well.
6. It is always better to dress right before going afield after getting out of the truck, and I do this when I can. However, sometimes if there is no where to change and it may be extremely cold out, you may not have to. If you do dress before driving anywhere be sure to avoid the exhaust fumes of the vehicle your driving in as you walk around the vehicle. Once you arrive at your destination, spray yourself down with a scent eliminator spray and apply a minimal amount of cover scent. Then once you arrive at your stand location, apply the scent eliminator spray once again.
7. If you put on your hunting attire before leaving the house- avoid as much contact as possible from things that can put foreign odors on your clothing. Tight hugs from your husband or wife as you say goodbye can leave harmful perfume smells on your clothing.
If you have pets in the house like dogs especially, avoid coming into contact with them as much as possible. Dogs are canines and so are coyotes, so this relationship between the two makes them both predators. I believe that since they are closely related, they both give off certain scent signatures that deer can sense when in close proximity. Extreme you may say and perhaps it is, but every little bit helps.
8. Preparing lunches for the hunt is also another consideration. I prepare sandwiches that have meats that relatively low in odor. I don’t use spicy baloney or other smelly kinds of foods. My lunches usually consist of a bag of small candies and turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise only. I don’t use smell onions or mustard on my hunting lunches. The drink usually consists of a canteen of water. These lunches are then packed in a zip lock bag. These bags are only opened when I am reaching for some nourishment and then resealed immediately.
Now I have been called obsessed, fanatical, and nuts when it comes to scent control and perhaps I am, but the proof is on the wall. I hope that the information here will be added to your hunting strategy. It is surely going to help you put an antler on the wall and meat in the freezer. Be sure to look for part 2 of “Dealing with scent control”. This will delve into scent control tips and techniques while in the field hunting.