Skip to main content

3 Senses All Big Game Hunters Must Overcome

Bull Elk Bugling

We’ve got tips for the three biggest obstacles big game hunters must overcome: Sight, sound, and smell.

Ask 100 hunters the key to their success and you’ll likely get just as many answers. Big game hunting is riddled with various theories, practices, approaches, and tactics.

However, one thing is for sure. If you can’t overcome your target’s sense of sight, hearing, and smell, you’ve got little chance of ever seeing that beast on your wall.


The primary objective for a successful hunt is to go unnoticed. This is easier said than done when big game animals spend every waking minute on alert scanning for potential risks and dangers.

To avoid detection from big game’s incredible eyesight, hunters need more than a good camo shirt. Camouflage clothing will certainly help matters.

It breaks up the outline of the hunters figure and silhouette using shapes that are common in the area. However, movement plays an equally important role in avoiding detection.

Some might argue it plays a larger role. While certain types of camouflage clothing have almost become a fashion statement of late, no print will save you if you’re constantly fidgeting and shifting around. Get comfortable and position yourself in a location that allows near perfect stillness leading up to your shot.



Most big game animals have incredible hearing. It’s not uncommon for an elk to hear a competitive bull’s bugle and come investigating from over a mile away.

The key here is to be as natural as possible. Most of the time nature is relatively quiet, and a hunter’s goal should be to do the same. However, there are instances where making noise can play to your benefit.

Remember, we said be as natural as possible, not as quiet as possible. The difference lies in what natural behaviors sound like. It might be calling, rattling, raking, or some combination of the three. The key is to avoid as much unnatural sound as possible.

Cell phone notifications, clanging items in a pack, and talking are sure to booger up a hunt. But that little twig you stepped on probably won’t set off many intruder alarms.


Wise About Bears

You could say this list went in reverse order. Many hunters would agree taht smell may be the single biggest factor that will determine the outcome of a hunt.

If you’re unable to overcome a big game animal’s sense of smell, you’re toast. There’s no other way around it. The way you go about doing this is up to you.

Again, there is an unlimited supply of theories in the odor department. Most people start with some sort of scent masking spray. From there, some might argue in favor of high tech ozone generators.

Others go the route of low tech scent camouflage. The list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t make as big of a difference what strategy you prefer to use, just make sure you’re using one. Don’t ever expect to get within close proximity of a mature bull or trophy buck smelling like a combination of this morning’s breakfast and body odor. And of course, make sure you’re using the wind.

Like what you see here? If so, click here to read more great hunting, outdoor, and shooting articles by Reid Vander Veen. Also, check out his writer page, Tree Stand Diaries, on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.



you might also like

3 Senses All Big Game Hunters Must Overcome