Deer hunters should be sensible about scents

These days, we deer hunters have more options for scent control and scent tactics than we’ve ever had. The industry is full of products, from cover and attractant scents – some of which could potentially come off the shelves due to proposed chronic wasting disease regulations in New York – to electronic scent control used both in the field and where we store our hunting gear and clothing.

As an avid hunter who participates in the archery, crossbow, rifle and muzzleloading seasons and one who does more walking than sitting, I still believe in using woodsmanship skills like working the wind to beat a whitetail’s nose. However, I still welcome the chance to find some form of advantage, especially if it’s not time-consuming and easy on the wallet.

With that in mind, I’ve discovered what I think is a common-sense approach controlling or covering human scent, or at least avoiding some mistakes that otherwise would alert a deer to my presence.

First, I use scent-cover products just like most other hunters. I also use unscented deodorant every day, starting a few weeks before deer season. During deer season I bathe and wash my hunting clothes, including belts and packs, in specialized soaps, and still sometimes use baking soda just as I did before those products were available. I still hang my hunting clothes outside or store them in a sealed plastic container or plastic bag with pine needles, leaves and twigs. I avoid stinky leather belts, knife sheaths and boots, or spray them profusely if I use them.

But one of the areas I think many hunters overlook is their vehicle. Our vehicles are a big part of our lives. We, along with our family and friends (and pets), often eat and drink in our vehicles. We hop in and out of them after being in restaurants and gas stations. And we often leave our hunting gear in our vehicles where the scents from all of this stuff linger.

About a month before I start hunting, I thoroughly clean my vehicle(s) inside and out. I swap out the carpet floor mats for those of rubber and I never, ever use an air freshener. I’m fortunate to live in the country and keep my vehicle in a garage, and thus can leave the windows down overnight. I do the same thing at deer camp if weather permits.

If possible, I always fuel up a day or two before hunting and will use cover-scent sprays to hit the floor mats and soles of my shoes, or I may even wash both after a trip to the gas station. I also spray down the entire inside of the vehicle with cover scent spray at various times throughout the season. Sometimes I store a bag of apples in my truck along with twigs, leaves and pine needles. I don’t smoke.

Once in the woods, I usually keep a small bottle of cover scent with me to apply if I’ve been sweating. Since we make deer drives, I’ll utilize deer urine when sitting on a watch, just as I would if I’m headed for a morning or evening stand.

These are just common-sense tactics that involve little money or effort. Give them a shot and maybe they’ll help you get a little closer to your quarry.

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