Contributors to this thread:
The Truth about Scent??
I was just reading through the "What do you wash your clothes in" thread and read an interesting comment from Blacktail Bob. Whenever Bob makes a comment I consider a little more carefully than many others. To paraphrase "It's not your clothes or what they are washed in that animals smell it's what is in them". I've long held this same belief. That brings me to this point and this discussion hopefully to get opinions from the rest of you guys. Do deer or elk or whatever critter you chase understand the smells we try to eliminate and associate them with humans? I.E. Does a deer smell Tide detergent with Febreeze and know that is a human? Do they smell bacon grease and know it's a hunter? Or the gas you dripped on your boots? Or the cigarette smoke for the guys that do that stuff? Or are they just smelling the person inside of those odors? I think it would be incredibly interesting for someone to do a study. Hang a shirt or something washed in tide and a shirt washed in dead down wind and hang them in the woods to see if the reaction is any different? Thoughts?
IMO, if they smell a human, or anything hey’ve learned to associate with humans, they will vacate the premises rather quickly, without waiting to verify the odor with another sense. If they smell something unfamiliar, they may very well wait to confirm the source with their eyes or ears. It may not alarm them, but it will certainly get their attention.
Of course, this is all speculation. That’s why everyone goes to different lengths to eliminate odor.
I don't think a study would have any definitive results, it would be entirely subjective. Like humans, every deer has had their own experiences and develop associations with danger. Whether it be a smokers breath, your dog who rubbed against your pants, a truck door closing, or the same bottle of tinks you've been using the past 3 seasons. Some deer are educated others are not.
For instance the nose jammer threads, there was a time vanilla was used as an attractant. How many times does a deer visit this scent and get nothing in return? Deer #1 might walk in sniff around and leave, maybe to return or not. Deer #2 wonders in and busts the hunter over the vanilla, gone vanilla=danger. Deer #3 comes in every time, bowhunter positions his kid during gun season... dead deer. Essentially natural selection, stupid deer have less opportunity to reproduce thus our herds get smarter over time. Who remembers back in the day when "deer don't look up"??? They certainly do now!
We don't know what individual deer associate w/ danger, one thing is for sure we know when they smell us they will likely vacate, but not always. Another example would be an unhunted island where some of the animals seem to be fearless but quickly start associating humans with danger. Downy may attract them initially but probably not for long.
I am of the opinion they smell odors coming from your body and body openings. Including your body entrance and exit, and everything in between. Best to hunt the wind, put the extra money saved in the bank.
If you could ever figure out what an animal is curious of versus alarmed by then the game can change. It would be preferred by most that no foreign scent at all get to the nose of an animal and that they feel no threat at all when being pursued. If an animal has had a bad experience with a scent it could be an alarm to them. Or it could be that for more mature animals with any amount of hunting pressure could consider any foreign scent in their territory reason to be alarmed. I believe the last to be true for most pressured animals. Animals have a good memory in my opinion. They learn from experiences good or bad. For instance if I get busted from a stand location I will not hunt from that spot again. I may simply move 20 yards and have a deer come in that busted me from that spot previously, looking intensely at the spot and not realize I'm in a different location and I'm able to get the shot. I am not anal with scent control but I do wash myself with scent free soap and use scent free tide for clothing and some cover scents to a small degree. But I am anal about wind direction and stand set up. I will drive myself crazy trying to pick out the right spot according to wind. Good Topic!
When I smell a skunk, I know its a skunk - no doubt
Im sure deer/elk process 'human smell' the same way.
I 100% believe the scent free craze is BS. No way to beat it and the deer dont really care what your clothes smell like. The smell off of you is coming within minutes of putting on your clothes. That year old carbon powder woven into your clothes is for the hunter not the deer
Ohiohunter, a well done study may not yield definitive results, but it would not be "entirely subjective". I'm not quite sure what you meant by that, but I would certainly disagree as I understand what you're saying. That being said, doing research in the natural environment (i.e., out of the lab) leaves you with tons of variables that are beyond your control (which may be what you were getting at). This type of research could be done in a lab and therefore could have much more control of extraneous variables, but the artificiality of that work would result in external and ecological validity concerns. Plus, who the heck is going to fund this type of research? :)
I don't think I've ever agreed with Missouribreaks on anything prior to this post. However, I think he's spot on in this case. Save your money and don't spend it on junk...
There are parts of your body that really stink and if you haven't figured it out by now you never will.
I will do what I can within reason to reduce my scent stream, keeping clothes clean, using Sportwash, Shampoos/body soaps, hair gel, etc... I dont use carbon, ozone nor that crappy Hecs BS... I play the wind and hope for the best...
Agree with Will, I think it's all BS.
Of course no one would fund it, probably the same reason my go fund me account for my new ozonics is still zero! HAHA. I agree the experiment could be attempted but as you've pointed out it would not translate to the wild, therefore your results are not objective.. they would be subjective. Meaning your results are directly related to the individual subject studied, which (as you pointed out) is a ball of variables out of our control. The less variables you control, the more likely your experiment will be subjective.
I'm going to touch on my experience with gas. A few years back I went to a field that logs were laying, it was a Greenfield not a grown up brown one. I cut 2 pickup loads of firewood load them in my dad's truck and mine. We went home unloaded the trucks and later in the afternoon I came back and I was going to cut one more load. Now I know I was running the chainsaw oil was flying off the bar and I spilled gas and the exhaust from the chainsaws. When I came back that afternoon there was deer right there where I was cutting the firewood, eating in the field. Fresh oil fresh exhaust and fresh smell of spilt gas all around, didn't seem to bother them one bit.
If any scent product reduces your scent at all you are moving in the right direction, whether it be reduction or cover scent. Deer can only smell so many PPM (particles per million) any reduction could be the difference between a successful day or frustration. The reality of it is you will never know. Yes you know when a doe blows until her eyes bleed, but what about that unseen 175" deer that just walks away? I guess what you don't know won't hurt you (or your ego).
I agree with Blacktail Bob 100%. But I don't change tires or work on my outboard in my hunting clothes, either. I shower in unscented soap before going to the woods, every time and I do was my clothes in unscented soap. But we wash all our stuff in the same thing.
Ohiohunter, we're speaking similar, but different languages. Rather than quibble about the semantics and details, I'll just say that I don't agree with your specific verbiage (specifically the way you're using "subjective"), but I do agree with your general point. When you find the funding for your Ozonics study let me know and I'll help you set up the study design!
Pat, how about a Bowsite sponsored study? Ohiohunter and I will be the Principal Investigators on it. $500K/year for three years to percent effort, deer, scents, and 100 acres to run the study.
Your breath is a very large component and gets very little acknowledgement. I've been known to rinse with hydrogen peroxide on a frequent basis. I read in a magazine some years back about a guy eating spearmint mints on the stand, as a deer would rather smell that than your human breath. Never tested that theory.
I don't consider myself "over the top" when it comes to scent control, but I do shower with unscented soap and wash my hunting clothes (including towel and washcloth) in unscented detergent. I don't wear my hunting boots to the gas station, do store my clothes in sealed plastic totes, etc...
I have zero delusions of beating the nose of a mature deer while on stand. My #1 goal is to leave as little scent as possible in the woods going to and from my stand. If my scent control efforts fool the nose of a young deer enough that it vacates the area quietly rather than snorting and stomping....that's a bonus!
Forget the wind, just hunt! Good luck all! Saw a giant this am but he sniftered me at 25 yards and he got away! Me thinks that's why I like to bow hunt:)
It's all so exhausting. . . . . and frustrating. . . . and in the end, does it work?
If my clothes are scent free, what about my release? How do I keep my bow scent free? And the arrows? I put the broadheads on with my bare hands, do I have to spray my broadheads down? What if they rust?
What about my treestand? I had to tote my treestand to the woods in the back of my truck. . . did it get exhaust on it? I sweated through my shirt as I walked in, do I spray the whole treestand down?
What do the sprays do? They SMELL for crying out loud! I can smell them when applied! How do I know it does that?
Can I spit my Skoal on the ground under my stand? Where do I pee? What if I have to poop?
WHere do I keep all these clothes and boots? When and where do I put them on? What if I'm downwind of my truck as I put my "scent-free" clothes on? Are fumes from the truck wafting onto me now?!?!
How many times can I wear them before I have to wash? What do I wash in? Do I need a hunting clothes dedicated washing machine? Is my wife's fabric softener from the load before still getting on my hunting clothes?
Why can I smell my farts through this scent-free suit?!?! I thought it was supposed to block some molecule thingy?!
I'm exhausted. And I haven't even hunted yet.
I used to do all the above. Used to worry about it. Man it was frustrating. It sucked the fun right out of it.
I don't do it anymore, preferring to spend my mental energies plotting stand sites and access routes that keep me away from getting winded. Because I don't think it matters what you wash your clothes in (even though I try to stay fragrance free anyways, still a hard habit to kick to forget about scent altogether :) ). They will still smell HUMAN. Sure, they can also smell gas, laundry detergent, Skoal, grease, my cat, farts, etc. But I think they spook at the HUMAN.
You can test this yourself. A deer smells different than an elk, or a coyote, or a stinky ass fox, or a bobcat. They all have a smell that is different to me. A dog smells different than a cat. Sure, if I had a K9 quality sniffer I could probably detect the cow crap the coyote rolled in, or the rabbit that the bobcat just ate, but why would it matter? I can still smell the animal itself. It's overall ambiance :)
I don't think a deer that smells my walk in trail is worried about the gas I stepped in at the gas station (yes, I pump diesel in my hunting clothes). I think it smells me. At some level, if I mask my scent entirely, I believe a deer can still tell something walked there because it can smell the broken grass, fresh disturbed dirt, etc.
To what level that might spook deer depends on the deer I believe. I had a little yearling buck pass by me last night (downwind by the way, as I used some Nose Jammer which is the only scent product I try). He smelled me, and hung around, and eventually wandered off. Right down my walk in path at the field edge. He HAD to have smelled where I walked. I took zero steps to eliminate my walk in scent. I pumped diesel in my boots, my pants haven't been washed in 4 hunts, my feet were sweating, etc. But he didn't care. He just wandered away.
I don't think I'd have gotten away with that on an older buck, but I guess you never know.
I don't know why I wrote such a book, but I have gotten to where I hate to see money spent on all this crap. I have a cousin in college who can't afford extra treestands, but he'll spend money on scent reducing sprays. . . . I just hate to see it.
The Nose Jammer stuff is a different story, that may actually be worth it :) Because 50% of the time, it works ALL the time :)
I try to keep the wind in my face as much as possible. If the wind blows my scent to a deers nose, it will smell me. I don't worry about, sometimes I win, sometimes the deer win.
I would write the same thing as Bake wrote, but you can just read his twice ;) Totally agree.
+1 Bake....right there with you, and why I posted this thread. well said!
P.S. I also use Nose Jammer. Stuff happens that I can't explain when it is on my tree.
Hey Bake, that was outstanding.
I hunt to enjoy myself. I did the scent thing for a while. Now I don't bother because it was a pain and the more experience I got the more I doubted if the results were worth the effort. I have watched dogs work scent trails that seem impossible. Hair, breath, saliva, sweat, my shooting glove, belt, boots that were on the truck floor mat, pack sitting in the garage, snack I ate, etc, etc, etc.
Now I just assume I stink and hunt accordingly. I believe that reduction and stuff like Nose Jammer can help a bit but I'm happier not messing with scent control and whatever extra challenge that brings.
Two of my bigger bucks were taken in sweat pants ...another in a gym sweater that was pretty nasty. Long story. Point being that the wind was in my favor and things worked out. I truly believe that no matter what you do with whitetails-if the wind and thermals betray you.....you're done. No way around it and as Charlie said that's one of the reasons I love Bowhunting. Just never know:)
Wow, was I responsible for this debate? I'm surprised so many see it the way I do. Usually I'm out there all by myself.
BUT. My infield experiences are based upon the reality that where I do almost all of my hunting, I don’t have access to a shower. I wear the same clothes I hunt in to bed at night for maybe 10 straight days in a row. I stink and I know I stink. If I don’t stay downwind, I'm never going to kill anything.
On the Ozonics thing. Based upon the recommendation of my buddy Curt Wells, who, regardless of being a TV personality, I think is a pretty straight shooter, I bought an Ozonics unit this past spring. I intended on using it for my spring bear hunting on POW Island. After hunting there for 25+ years I still haven’t killed a B&C bear. I figured maybe the Ozonics unit would help with scent around the bait.
I had a particular bait I knew from trail camera photos had two shooter bears coming in on a regular basis. I never saw a bear at the bait while I was there in my ladder stand with the Ozonics unit running. I think I had hunted it 6 times.
I switched to a popup blind and put the Ozonics unit in the blind with me. I killed the first bear one-half hour after getting in the blind. I killed the second bear the next night.
I don’t know whether or not it was just getting in the blind that helped contain my scent or whether the Ozonics unit had a better chance of working on my scent while being contained in the blind. Nonetheless, I’m buying a good blind for this coming spring and will be using it at a bait I’ve had real trouble getting big bears to come in while I’m there.
No matter what you do, occasionally animals come in down wind. Scent does not always travel at their nose level or do what you think it should be doing. Killed many deer that came with their wind in their nose and failed to get me, even on the ground. If I would have rubbed baking soda on the bung hole that day I would be convinced it worked. Play the wind and hope for the best.
It's all bs, hunt the wind
Bob, I'd say both were working positively on your scent. No doubt a blind helps contain scent, and the ozonolysis of aromatics by (of course) O3 is irrefutable. Midway usa is running a sale on Double Bull blinds.
I agree with most here.Once we learn to replace the constant production of gases,oils and perspiration to regulate our bodies then I will believe that scent control,dilution can be accomplished.
As it stands now how clean clothing or skin is when you drape it over a scent producing factory (the human body) may buy you 15 minutes before that clothing or your skin is saturated with enough ppm of "scent' to turn a mature whitetail inside out.
Use the money and time in season to scout,hang and cut smart shooting lanes.Your wall will thank you ,imo.
To start with, most deer today, smell man every day. It is not, in and of itself, an alarming smell. That is true only for deer who are in deep woods. If the smell of man drove a deer to wild flight, they would all be dead. It is the proximity of the smell and and location that alarms most deer. Couple that with time of day and you have a problem. The smell of a human walking a dog , doesn't drive a deer bonkers anymore than one plowing a field, does. Put that same odor in the woodlot, where it is unusual, a red flag goes up. Understand. Most deer are not afraid of man. They are afraid of man-the predator. When humans start getting sneaky and sitting on the side of trees, the unusual creeps in.
Pheasant hunted with my dog the other day. We were walking and she stopped dead in her tracks and up came the nose. She turned and led me to some pheasant feathers from a shotgun blast. If she can sniff a few feathers from 20 yards away then their is no hope for us I don't care what you do. If anyone has seen the study with the German Shepard and various ways to hide scent. They determined the dog found them regardless of methods used and even sometimes faster with good scent control.
kscowboy, You mentioned breath. I always keep butterscotch hard candy for two reasons. To help keep me from coughing and I want the deer to smell something a little more sweet when they smell my breath. No really it's my good luck charm.
Bowriter right on. Exactly. Concentration of the scent is what gets them. They smell humans all the time but when you're in a tree 15 yards from them the can distinquish the concentration of the scent vs. someone who is 70 yds away much like the way we smell a skunk spray in the distance vs close up. I also beleive, like humans, deer have different attitudes. Some put up more some put up with less....like the comment above with the gas and the chainsaw. Probably didnt bother those deer, maybe they smelled it before. Probably many deer in the woods that wouldnt have gone near it.
It is not clear cut. Subdivision and small farm area deer are very easy to hunt because they become accustomed to the smell and sounds of humans, almost trained like domestic pets. Place those same odors and sounds in the big woods and the deer will vanish if they hear or smell a human. Elk will spook from a mile away if they catch your odor.
My 2 cents.
If deer where alarmed by every off smell they would literally be running so much that they would die from exhaustion. I think Bowriter had an excellent response in that they are not afraid of humans until we become the predator and are in areas we normally aren't.
One thing I personally believe that helps is using hard wood smoke to mask and reduce your scent signature. The chemical properties in hard wood smoke inhibit bacterial growth which when it dies and decays causes us to stink. The smell of smoke is very common in the fall and winter and in my experience deer don't seem to receive it as a threat.
I still try to hunt the wind, but sometimes the wind shifts and swirls. My experience has been that 8 out of 10 deer won't freak out if they wind me (after smoking up). Of those 8 half will pay no attention while the other half will typically start sniffing the air and then go about their business.
Another Ditto for Bake.
(I'm the other Will... but I agree with him as well)
It seems like nosejammer and a heavy smoke may do roughly the same thing. But I'd way rather smell like vanilla if I over-shoot with it :)
I started doing the scent control thing over 20 years ago. Started by just washing my clothing in scent free detergent, but found it didn't help much if you use scented detergent or dryer sheets the rest of the time. Bought an old washer and dryer, cleaned them out well, ran them through cycles of scent free soap, and it made a difference. I could tell the odors in my clothes dropped way off.
Started hanging my clothing outside a lot. Kept it in tubs. Hunting clothing never went in the house. Quit using any scented products year round (soap, aftershave, deodorants, etc). My own sense of smell increased significantly when not bombarded with other scents.
Have played with many different cover scents, scent elimination products and carbon clothing. I no longer use cover scents, but I do use scent elimination sprays (the ones that don't smell) and carbon clothing. The carbon clothing only works good when new, and washing it will reduce it's capability quickly. The claims of putting it in the dryer to recharge only works (and not totally) with older dryers that don't have the sensors on them like the newer dryers that reduce heat. When my carbon clothes come out of my 25 year old dryer the zippers can burn you!
I put plastic bags over my seats in my truck, drive with gloves on that get changed where I hunt.
The results, besides being a lot of work? Every deer that got downwind of me before I went to all this trouble picked me off. 100% of the time, even 100-150 yds out. As I started reducing my scent that number began to shrink. Even on mature bucks. I rarely, if ever, get picked up now, and if I do it is usually an alert deer that eventually returns to what it was doing. Haven't been snorted at in years.
Have killed 2 P&Y bucks that have come in directly downwind. Never would have happened in the pre-scent control days. They always winded me and blew or sneaked out!
I hunt with a friend on occasion that has no idea how to do scent control. On those days I use clean clothes but don't try to do the scent control regime. First time in a stand last year hunting with him a little buck walked under me then got downwind about 60 yds out. He took off running.
It works by reducing my scent to minimal levels that will be tolerated by the deer. Notice I didn't say eliminates it. When I can beat a coyotes nose, and I do, then I know it works very well. I have multiple dead coyotes to prove it. I go to this much trouble because I have limited places to hunt and limited time. I can't afford to educate the critters and expect repeat visits.
I would like to quit doing all this, but it is really gratifying to me to watch animals downwind that never pick me off like they used to.
You guys are killing a Billion dollar industry- grin. Yeah Im in the BS crowd.
The biggest revelation to me on scent was when I used to do hog depredation at night. The dogs would kill a skunk and then not 15 minutes later wreeking so bad your eyes were watering find a hog.
Due to my allergies I can not smell very good. So every year I look for the bull or buck that has a similar problem.
On a series note I think it’s the bacteria on all of us humans that alarms them to our presence.