Sitka Mountain Gear
Smoke and an elk's sense of smell
Contributors to this thread:
Medicinemann 25-Aug-20
Whocares 25-Aug-20
Glunt@work 25-Aug-20
IdyllwildArcher 25-Aug-20
BULELK1 25-Aug-20
wyobullshooter 25-Aug-20
Stubbleduck 25-Aug-20
Tilzbow 25-Aug-20
ElkNut1 25-Aug-20
320 bull 25-Aug-20
Bob H in NH 25-Aug-20
Z Barebow 25-Aug-20
LKH 25-Aug-20
TD 25-Aug-20
gil_wy 26-Aug-20
Cornpone 26-Aug-20
DonVathome 26-Aug-20
From: Medicinemann
Leaving for an elk hunt in 2-3 weeks in Wyoming. Being a "glass half full" kinda guy, I am wondering if the smoke may actually work to a bowhunters advantage in some areas. Granted, the elk's olfactory is so superior to ours that perhaps they'll still discern the difference between smoke and human scented smoke.... I was just wondering if anyone could share any hunting related stories about forest fire smoke as it pertained to elk hunting. At some point, it has to be factor....even for an elk's nose.....but is that factor only when the smoke is so intense you shouldn't even be hunting in it?

From: Whocares
Two years ago we were in pre-evac notice for several weeks and the smoke became quite irritating. Fire was visible to us, actual flames and could watch the helicopter and tanker drops but didn't seem to affect the elk movement.

From: Glunt@work
Not sure anyone knows for sure but my guess is that forest fire is like cover scent. The elk smell the fire and you instead of just you. Had a buddy years ago offer me one of his dirt scented wafers that clip on your pack. I declined and told him instead of a wafer that smelled like dirt, I was just going to hunt on top of 13 billion, trillion tons of it and hope it covered my scent.

I've hunted elk twice when the smoke was bad. I killed an elk one of the years. I did not notice that the smoke helped cover scent one bit nor did it change their behavior.

Good luck on your hunt Jake.

+1 Iddy

All I noticed was how tough it was breathing that crappy air in while hunting and when blowing my nose how brown the ~~ was!!

Have fun and travel safe Jake,


+2 Idyll. There’s been a few years where the smoke from relatively nearby fires literally made my eyes and nose sting. It sure didn’t stop the elk from busting me whenever the winds got squirrelly.

From: Stubbleduck
Elk have been dealing with forest fire smoke for a very long time. I suspect any Elk that had its scenting ability significantly affected by such smoke left the gene pool long ago.

From: Tilzbow
Ever walk into a bathroom right after someone took a dump and sprayed air freshener? Bet you still smelled the crap through the flowers.... That’s my opinion on how well cover scents and smoke work to cover human odor.

From: ElkNut1
Smoke is no big deal! I hunt in it nearly every year here in Idaho & this year will be no different, there's lots of smoke here to deal with, nothing changes.


From: 320 bull
Tilzbow that is exactly how I think.

From: Bob H in NH
I think it will have a bigger effect on glassing! Man it seems hazy here in WY, but it's the smoke.

From: Z Barebow
The elk in CO have been acclimating to pot smoke for several years. They won't care other than they will be eating more than usual! LOL!

From: LKH
Granted they were deer but I believe studies have shown WT's can analyze 6 different scents simultaneously. Don't ask me how they researched that.

Smoke doesn't bother deer much.

From: TD
I've heard folks claim some success to campfire smoke soaked clothing acting as some cover scent. I've seen people buy bee smokers to smoke their clothes prior to a hunt. Always chalked it up to being a whitetail kinda thang. But kinda don't think even that holds up after the first day or so.... after a few days elk hunting my pants and shirts have been trained to come running when I whistle......

With scent it likely makes no difference. Doesn't really help, but don't think it hurts, well, except for that lil breathing/surviving thing..... One thing I do know is it sucks for glassing. Big time.

Still good wid P&Y WRT fair chase, =D

From: gil_wy
A couple years ago, while hunting central Wyoming, fires in Idaho were bad. One day it was so bad there was ash falling and we had to soak shirts and cover our faces. Even when it was that bad, if the elk got down wind, they blew out. Had zero impact on their ability to smell us...

From: Cornpone
When it comes to any cover scent I always recall a Fred Bear tale. He was bear hunting and a reeking dead foal was the bait. He was set up downwind and a bear came into the bait , stuffed it's muzzle in and went to feeding. The air shifted...he felt the coolness on the back of his neck. Instantly the bear took off. He said that was his lesson on cover scents.

From: DonVathome
It might help a little but not likely. In AZ hunting elk a year after a big burn I thought it was cool going up to charred trees and using my hand to collect black soot to rub on my face.

Elk will smell smoke and human.

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