Here are some odd scent control methods people don't usually talk about.
Eliminating human scent is a huge part of deer hunting. Because it's so important to remain scent-free or downwind of your quarry, it's imperative we understand all the ways in which we hold a scent.
Clean hunting clothes and cover scent aside, a deer's sense of smell is so acute, it evokes a feeling of powerlessness within us that we simply can't describe. We buy scent-control products by the bushel, use scent-free detergent and sometimes still can't seem to defeat a deer's vaunted nose.
As hunting season approaches, we start to shake in our rubber boots thinking of what'll happen when that big buck shows up. Regardless of the hunting gear you use or hunting area you sit above, it's our body odor causes our downfall and steps upon our best laid plans.
Since deer hunters are always looking for an edge, here are a few tricks and odd pairings I've come across over the years, each garnered from the men and women who had the trophy heads on the wall to prove its effectiveness.
When we dive in between the sheets every night, we completely forget we're wallowing in our own scent. While we dream about that big buck we've been seeing on trail camera, we're also spending 6-8 hours wrapped in the warm glow of our own human body. Get those sheets washed up before the season starts and keep them that way.
We all know scent control starts in the home, but washing clothes isn't the only way to care for our hunting clothing. Taking a scent-free shower before the hunt is one of the most important ways to stop the human body from stinking in the first place, but was that the towel that you used when you got home from work last night...and the night before that? Could it be the same one your significant other put in the dryer with a lavender Snuggle sheet?
It doesn't matter that you just cleaned yourself to the whistle, you still took that same towel and rubbed it all over yourself. Keep a couple of scent-controlled hunting towels aside for use after taking a scent-free shower, then use your scent-free deodorant. Start this whole process at least a week before the season starts.
Here's where things get a little interesting.
Keeping your nose clean isn't just a saying we all know from our youth, but also a matter-of-fact method of scent control by many old-school hunters.
"Blow early and blow often, and you'll see some of these on your wall," one old timer regularly tells me.
I made a delivery to a man that was a retired electrical supervisor for a local commercial union. He had an awesome spread where we went, which featured 100 acres of prime deer hunting property, his own butchering station and a log cabin to boot.
Inside of his garage were a plethora of trophy whitetail buck mounts, so many that I had to ask, "Where did you travel to get all of those?"
His reply was to point out back and say, "Right out there."
One of the many methods he swore by was to keep a supply of Q-tips in his bag and a second bag to put the spent ones in.
"If you let the small stuff go," he said, "You'll never see them, especially when the pressure is on."
5. Truck seat
I'll take credit for this one, whether I deserve it or not. I've been lucky enough to have had many trucks over the course of my life. Since I spent so many of those years in the masonry trade, I always installed a seat cover on them.
For many years, I traveled to hunt, even it if was just across town. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed an old throw blanket—scent-free of course—to lay down on the seat before I sat in it with all of my hard-earned, scent-free gear.
I usually spray down the seat first with some kind of scent killer, lay down the blanket and then mount up. I usually give the floor a spray, too.
6. What you eat
Alcohol, spicy foods, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts and red meat are the biggest culprits that give us body odor or bad breath. Don't forget that cup of black coffee that you love so much the morning of a hunt! My buddy Kevin always took apples in his bag to combat some of this, but partly because we hunted near orchards back in the day.
Don't forget things like garlic and curry, either!
It's the easiest thing to remember and the easiest to forget. There may not be a place on your body that sheds more human skin cells, and your hairbrush is the repository of it all. You can clean it, because God knows it's been forever since you did, or you can just skip it altogether and go "commando" for a day in the field. No one will notice your bad hair day since they'll be gawking at the buck you took!
This is the one thing I always forget every year. You cleaned up your hunting clothing and put it all in a plastic container just like last year, but you're still sporting those "whitey-tighties," aren't you? All jokes aside, there aren't too many places on our bodies that invite such a warm feast of bacteria or such a strong scent.
Every little thing counts when pursuing a mature whitetail buck. Even if some of these things might seem a bit laughable, there are folks out there who swear by it and have the racks to back it up.
In my book, "The Hunter's Way," I called that "the mythology of the hunter's ego." It worked at some point for them, so it's at least worth listening to their stories. If even one of these odd ways worked for them, it can work for you.
And if all else fails, play the wind direction, because that's one thing we can all agree is no myth!