Carbon Express Arrows
An Old Column on Scent Control
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Bowriter 24-Aug-17
EF Hutton 24-Aug-17
sticksender 24-Aug-17
Bowriter 24-Aug-17
elk yinzer 24-Aug-17
sticksender 24-Aug-17
DartonJager 24-Aug-17
DartonJager 24-Aug-17
Bowriter 24-Aug-17
Bowriter 24-Aug-17
Lost Arra 24-Aug-17
APauls 24-Aug-17
Bowriter 24-Aug-17
DartonJager 25-Aug-17
Candor 25-Aug-17
1boonr 25-Aug-17
bigdog21 26-Aug-17
Bowriter 26-Aug-17
smokey 26-Aug-17
Candor 26-Aug-17
Bowriter 26-Aug-17
Candor 26-Aug-17
Bowriter 27-Aug-17
razorhead 27-Aug-17
From: Bowriter
24-Aug-17
Pat- if this needs to be deleted, please do so. This is a newspaper column I wrote in 2015. Since the "scent", subject always comes up, I thought I might as well run it. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion and quite truthfully, I don't care how many monsters you have killed using "Uncle J's Magic Potion". But it is open for discussion, just don't post any pictures of you showering.

The Essence of Scents.

Stop. If you use a scent product, like it, believe in it, read no further. Just keep using it.

This is about using common sense about scent control. Probably, I am going to make some scent control manus mad. That’s okay. This is my personal experience and my own personal opinion.

Let me make something crystal clear: If you have a product you like, believe in, then by all means, do not quit using it because this is why it works. By having confidence in it, you probably hunt longer and maybe, in places you might not have hunted without it. But understand this: Just because you killed a monster buck or six that came in directly downwind of you, does not mean that product or any product worked. Over the years, I have literally had hundreds of animals from deer to elk to coyotes, come in from my downwind side and give no indication they smelled me. I do not credit anything I do, did or have done, with that. It was just the way the wind blew. And…

I use no scent control or cover up products.

There is one scent control method that does have some positive impact. It is called cleanliness. Be clean. That means body, including hair and beard, (especially hair and behind ears.), and clothing, including hat and gloves and for sure, face mask. I wash all my clothes, including hat, etc., in unscented detergent and I sun dry, then bag. If I hunt morning and afternoon, I shower and change clothes between hunts. I shower with unscented, antibacterial soap and use it for shampoo. When it comes to footwear, 90% of the time, I wear tennis shoes. In the last 30+-years, I cannot say I ever saw a deer or any animal spook at my foot-trail. Hands, yes.

Whatever I am wearing on my feet, I wash or wade a creek in them, then sun dry and put them on when I get out of the truck. Now, please permit me to make some more people mad. Wearing knee-high or any rubber boot, does absolutely nothing to aid in scent control. It is a 100%, complete myth. It is not what you have on your feet, it is what you have on your footwear.

There is no product of any kind or at any cost on the market today that will eliminate your scent. It cannot be done. If an animal gets in the right place to catch your scent, that animal will smell you. That is a 100%, given. It cannot be debated or proven wrong. It is a fact.

That said, yes, you can, to some degree, lessen the impact. Nothing you buy or manufacture is any better than cleanliness, but you can diminish your scent. You cannot cover it up or completely obliterate it. That cannot be done, no matter how much money you spend.

There is one thing you can do that helps. It sounds ridiculous, only a few very brave souls will try it. It is painless and simple. Quit using any, repeat ANY deodorant or anti-perspirant. Shower at least once a day, twice if possible for the first two weeks. For 10-day to two weeks, you are going to really stink. Then, well…just wait and see what happens. I have not used any deodorant in almost nine years. Not a single comment, not even from my wife.

But here are two major rules: (1) If, you like and are satisfied with what you are doing, keep doing it. (2) Understand, human odor comes mainly from bacteria that is constantly produced by the human body. You cannot stop that and you cannot totally cover it up. BUT…if you adhere to a rigorous program of cleanliness, you can get by a tremendously sensitive nose…sometimes.

From: EF Hutton
24-Aug-17
Alot of that is true.

The police K9 dog test was really interesting. White Oak acorn cover did slightly slow the dog down but he eventually triggered on the correct box.

From: sticksender
24-Aug-17
Agree with the cleanliness theory. Over 35 years of whitetail hunting and trying about every scent gimmick on the market, cleanliness is the only consistently effective method that helps (a little) for me. Can't go along with the no-deodorant part though. I use scent-free deodorant on armpits, palms, neck, nether-regions, etc....anyplace likely to perspire and get bacteria going. Because some days, I might be on stand for 8-12 hours straight. The only point is to reduce scent and smell like you are a "little further away" than you really are. Because IMO there is no way to totally eliminate the ability of a deer to smell you. Well, except by killing him ;-)

From: Bowriter
24-Aug-17
Sticksender-I challenge you. Try it. Go three weeks, using nothing. I dare you. If you are not convinced, following the directions I posted, I'll buy you a helping of your favorite deodorant.

From: elk yinzer
24-Aug-17
I don't care if you shower 100 times a day, a deer that is truly downwind in your actual scent stream is going to smell human 100% of the time.

Agree with the rubber boots. I see no difference in how deer react to my trail whether I am wearing meticulously treated rubber boots or my leather hikers. I only wear rubber boots to stay dry.

From: sticksender
24-Aug-17
Lol, I believe you that it might work bowriter. In my line of business though, I can't see surviving that 10-14 day stinky break-in period.

From: DartonJager
24-Aug-17
I think the single biggest reason we get scented by deer if we are practicing a scent control protocol as described here is when our otherwise nearly scent free clothing, foot wear, hands or hair becomes contaminated after we get dressed. IMHO the single biggest source of cross contamination of out cloths, foot wear etc. is the vehicle we drive to our hunting areas. I also believe the second biggest cause of getting winded is by pieces of equipment other than clothes we take with us while hunting. Again IMHO chief among these items if you use one, are backpacks and just as bad would be the safety harnesses we use. There are ways to greatly reduce cross contamination from our vehicles, but I don't think it can be eliminated. I have and use 4 very cheap packs so I minimize their impact. I am going to 1/2 body harnesses so I can pick up a few of them as they don't cost that much.

Would anyone care to share any scent control methods they use besides the obvious use of plastic sheets and changing foot wear to prevent cross contamination from vehicles?

From: DartonJager
24-Aug-17
Bowriter, I would love to try your 2 week break-in period, I have one question. Is rubbing baking soda on my arm pits OK or not? I do work with people and would like to try to minimize my BO for their sake.

From: Bowriter
24-Aug-17
"I don't care if you shower 100 times a day, a deer that is truly downwind in your actual scent stream is going to smell human 100% of the time."

Yep. Elk Yinzer is dead on. That is exactly what I said.

Darton Jager- One of the worst things you can do. here is why. Baking soda is an odor ABSORBENT, not a neutralizer. As it absorbs odor, it dries, drops off just like laying scent trail of bread crumbs. But that is not the worst. (2) It cogs pores and that creates a superb "growing" environment for bacteria and that creates more odor. And yes, you need a 10-14-day period of somewhat isolation during the adjustment period because you are going to stink like a goat. All those pores you have been covering up are going to work overtime cleaning out. A sweat bath or steam room helps. But trust me, you will not believe what happens when those little openings get clean. Again, it is not magic, is not going to make scent free, is not going to keep any animal from smelling you if they get int he right spot downwind. But it is at least as effective as any product you can buy, regardless of technology or cost. If you work outside, away from folks or work alone, I challenge you to prove me wrong. But...and here is the but...you must, absolutely must, shower thoroughly at least once a day and two is even better.

Something else I encourage you to do. Get some milk weed or commercial wind detector that you can see and watch for a long period of time. A colored smoke bomb is great. Get up in a stand or something about the same height as your stand and watch. Look at how many different directions it goes, despite prevailing wind. Is it any wonder a deer or any animal can be 30-yards away, directly downwind and not smell you? Do some personal research and some playing around with wind and especially wind currents. It is quite educational and will often change your entire outlook on wind.

From: Bowriter
24-Aug-17

Bowriter's embedded Photo
Bowriter's embedded Photo
True story to illustrate a pint.

I think, 1999, I was outside Oak Creek, CO, hunting elk with Paul Brown. We spotted a small group of about 10-cows and two bulls across a canyon, maybe 350-yards away. As we were glassing them, they obviously winded us and took off. Paul said, "I know where they are heading. I think we can cut them off." So we gave chase.

An hour later, we were closing in and the wind shifted, blowing from us, directly to them. I mean as straight as a camper going to pee. Just for giggles, we put a stalk on them and closed to within 30-yards in the aspens. I could not get a clear shot and they finally did smell us. But that illustrates just how fickle are the wind and more so, the tendrils of air within the wind.

While photographing deer, I have played with the wind many times, often amazed and I am not talking about penned deer but the same deer I hunt. Here is something else, you maybe never thought about. A deer in a foodplot can smell you faster than a deer in the woods.

From: Lost Arra
24-Aug-17
Good stuff Bowriter

Agree on rubber boots/scent but I still like my Mucks because they keep my feet dry and warm. Keep burrs out of my socks. Plus I don't mind stepping in fresh cow pies while walking in the dark.

From: APauls
24-Aug-17
Yup, I think this has been the general consensus on bowsite, or at least while I've been here anyways.

As was mentioned above about using cover scents, I do believe that there is something to attempting to "overcome" an animals nose with other scents like the usage of Nose Jammer. Am I saying that with the whitetails millions of scent receptors that it will no longer smell you because you've introduced another scent into the air? No. But I do think it's more effective at FOOLING a deer than how effective you can try to be eliminating your scent. As we know, that just plain isn't going to happen.

I always love when guys say a deer was right in their wind and did not smell them. How do you know? There is literally no possible way to know where your scent is all being distributed. You can prob guess on most of it by releasing milkweed or similar, but you never know where all of it is.

The other things I've found very interesting is how a dog has no trouble trailing when there is some moisture, but could no longer trail the hunter a couple hours after hot dry weather through a grassy field. Keeping these kinds of things in mind when checking cameras or scouting on foot.

From: Bowriter
24-Aug-17
I cannot remember his name. Guy out in KS, killed quite a few nice deer and a few big ones. Super nice guy and he had a cover scent, he sold. He gave me a couple spray thingies of it. I swear it was pure, powdered vanilla. This was before I heard of using vanilla as bear bait or as an attracting or curiosity scent. I'm talking, maybe, 35-40 years ago. Vanilla has long been a scent used in various forms of animal attraction and curiosity. In terms of if covering up anything, I rather doubt it but what the heck, it smells nice. When I hunted solid pines, I often used turpentine as a cover scent. That was before I figured out I was wasting time and money and smelled like a pulpwood cutter. I guess, you can use just about anything.

From: DartonJager
25-Aug-17
Bowriter, Thank you for your advice. Funny you should mention milk weed. I have been using it as my wind direction indicator for over 30 years now. YEARS ago I often as you advise have and still release dozens of pieces of milk weed while sitting 15-25' up in my tree stands and are to this day still amazed and yes depressed on just how often and unpredictably crazy the wind moves the air borne milk weed in all directions, but what troubled me most was the milk weed flew all directions when I thought the wind was solidly in my favor based on feeling it what I believed with about 95% confidence was consistently against my face. The fact that so many things affect the actual wind direction in your area contrary to what weather reporting agencies are reporting it as (like your local air port) makes stand placement and what wind to hunt in complicated.

From: Candor
25-Aug-17
Thank you for posting that article.

What is your theory on why you need 2 weeks without deodorant to purify your pits? I wear deodorant, not antiperspirant and I have never worn antiperspirant. My pits are not clogged and I sweat. So do not think there is backed up pores there. One day per week I usually go without applying any deodorant. I just do not like putting perfume or applying chemicals to my body.

When I started wearing deodorant when I was in high school I did it because I smelled like body odor. So my body odor was not a product of wearing anything before in my pits.

I would love to not wear deodorant.

Analogously, there are other parts of my body that smell when I have been perspiring that have never had deodorant or perspiration placed on them either....

From: 1boonr
25-Aug-17
tennis shoes in Illinois in November. ill stick with my 1200 gram lacrosse rubber boots. there is no way you hunt with tennis shoes if it is cold or wet outside. do you walk in streams in them, what about dew in the morning. you are one tuff sumbeach.

From: bigdog21
26-Aug-17
baking soda is all i use washing cloths and taking shower then a tote with a bottom layer of leaves and dirt from my hunting site brought home in a garbage bag store clothes in this and smells natural ha worked for more than 20 years busted from movement but not smell. have used coon cover scent the deer seem to like the smell i have sprayed leaves on trees around me and have watched the deer come and lick the leafs i spayed. my buddy takes a different approach it seems to work ok but takes some getting use to. he kills a skunk and through s it by his stand. he says he never get busted?

From: Bowriter
26-Aug-17
Candor-Might want to try changing the soap or shampoo. And, of course, some people have more natural odor than others.

1boonr-I hunted and guided in IL for many years-Griggsville and Pearl areas. Wore tennis shoes until it got down to about 30. Here, I often wear them all season. I just put a disposable hand warmer in the toes. To each, his own. Might mention, hunting or wading creeks fishing is all I wear them for.

Bigdog21-In addition to being an absorbent, baking soda is also an abrasive. I hope you turn your camo inside out. Baking soda speeds up the "blurring" of the pattern. I'll pass on the skunk thing. :)

From: smokey
26-Aug-17
Bowriter, good article and that is mostly what I do as well. BUT, Baking Soda is a neutralizer. Chemistry proves that. It does not fall off and leave a trail. I do sometimes use Lavalin, a herbal deodorant that gives me a bit more in the pit and foot protection areas. My career was a wildland firefighter where we could not shower for weeks at a time or change clothes after some hard work days. Definitely noticed the difference.

From: Candor
26-Aug-17
When I was in school I worked in a pulp and paper plant for a few months. The first day it smelled horrible. The second day it smelled but not as bad. The third day I didn't even notice the odor. I had passed my "threshold of adaptation" and was now accustomed to the odor.

Maybe you and your family have just gotten use to your odor. only kidding. I do think we have more odor at different times of our lives depending on diet, stress, age/hormones....

Also...why would tennis shoes be good to hunt out of. They have a rubber bottom so how would that not put down a rubber odor if that is what the concern is with rubber boots?

From: Bowriter
26-Aug-17
"Also...why would tennis shoes be good to hunt out of. They have a rubber bottom so how would that not put down a rubber odor if that is what the concern is with rubber boots?"

I wear tennis shoes because I have terrible peripheral neuropathy. They are comfortable and quiet and give me a good "feeling" for ladder and other steps. I pay zero attention to foot odor in terms of walking in and out of a stand. It doesn't matter to me, what I have on my feet. I have hunted many times in moccasin style house slippers. It is what is on the footwear that gives you away, not what footwear you have on. If I could, I would probably hunt in bare feet, during the early season. Deer, smell your hands and what you touch with them, 30X faster than where you put your feet PROVIDING, you have taken proper care of your footwear. I learned decades ago, how to do that. But...do what works for you or what you think works for you. If it gives you confidence, do it. No way I am going to bury my clothes in dirt from where I hunt. Nor am I going to use baking soda in clothes washing. But if that is what you believe in, go for it. Now...I have just been asked to do an expanded article on this subject and I am going to "steal" some of your comments. You won't get credit or be named and no, you wan't get paid. :)

From: Candor
26-Aug-17
I agree what's on the footwear is most important. I like rubber boots so I can ease down a stream.

Where I hunt I have a fair amount of topo, little prevailing winds and cagey critters. I wash my clothes in whatever is scent free. sometimes baking soda, sometimes not. I do brush my teeth with baking soda when I leave my truck.

I do put cedar limbs in my clothes box and will, when sitting in a pine, notch the tree sometimes to generate some pine odor.

I am pretty lean on aftermarket products.

From: Bowriter
27-Aug-17

Bowriter's embedded Photo
Bowriter's embedded Photo
10-4. I wear a pair of 15-year old Muck boots when I need to. If I am going to wade in water or have much snow or bad mud, I wear them. I hate rubber boots but if I have to wear some, Muck are the best I have had. I store clothes, once clean, in a large cedar chest and when traveling in an airtight bag. I don't have any teeth, so I quit brushing them. :) My standard footwear is a pair of New Balance, ankle-high, hiking shoes. Basically, a tennis shoe with a high top. I only wear them on two occasion-hunting or wading streams, fishing. My personal opinion is,one of the greatest things you can do is sun dry your clothing an foot wear. I spread my wet, clean clothes out on some bushes in the back yard and dry all day in the sun. Then, straight into the chest or the bag. But to tell you the truth, I don't obsess or worry much about scent any more. Killing something doesn't mean that much to me. I have a back yard full of deer.

From: razorhead
27-Aug-17
This is a good thread, and the writer is correct on stuff, but as things evolve and being a trapper who screws around with all kinds of scents, this is my take. I never bought into the rubber boot idea either, except to keep my feet dry. Hunting big woods I need a boot, that I can walk all day in, drys out when it gets wet, and has a grip to it, otherwise you would be on your a.. in some areas........ Tennis shoes in my country will kill your ankles, and your feet will freeze in the trout streams,,, ha ha

My hunting clothing, other than wool products never see a washing machine, I put them in plastic tub, with clean cold water, add a non scented soap product and self agitate, with a plunger, and hang to dry,,,,,,, I agree with the sun dry all day and put in the chest after, and I handle clothes with disposable gloves.

There are a lot of tricks and some good products out there that will give you may be an edge , for that last second shot, and that is what we all are looking for.......

I do know a guy though, that believes in scent clothing, but he said to be effective, you can not buy it off the shelf, it must come to you direct, and still sealed, and he has his own system, and his proof is on the wall

so all in all, everyone does something, everyone hunts deer, some are pressured, some are not, some are wired all the time, some are just dumb, etc,,,, You need to watch the wind......

I hunt in heavy wolf country, if you want to see deer on alert at all times, hunt with me,,,,,,,

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