Does the Wildgame Innovations Zerotrace really hide your scent from big game?
Every hunter knows that most game animals are acutely tuned in to alert at the detection of human odor. In the past, the way to combat this was to focus heavily on hunting the wind. While hunting the wind remains an effective method to this day, many modern hunters have spent years looking for a better form of scent control.
Traditionally, this has been through use of clothing washes, sprays, and specialty clothing meant to neutralize scent particles. In the last few years, ozone generators have become the latest and greatest thing.
Enter the Wildgame Innovations Zerotrace Pureion Field Generator. We know that's a mouthful to say and you may not fully understand what that means. Don't worry, we're here to explain, as well as to tell you what we really thought of this new machine.
What is a field generator anyway?
We'll admit that the first time we heard of these devices, they sounded like a fancy marketing gimmick. All scents are basically bacteria and most field generators produce ozone, which is a gas that breaks down odor molecules and eliminates them. Ozone generators have been around for a while, they're sometimes used to disinfect and remove scents in medical facilities or by cleanup crews to get a musty smell out of a basement. There are some arguments out there that ozone is hazardous to both your health and can degrade electronics.
However, Wildgame Innovations says those concerns are not a factor because their Pureion technology is slightly different. The Zerotrace instead uses what the company calls "PureION" technology to dispense charged plasma ions into the air. These are both positive and negative ions that then attach themselves to human scent molecules and destroy them. In addition to odor molecules, Wildgame Innovations also claim the product can destroy viruses, bacteria and even mold with "none of the damaging effects" of ozone.
There would probably need to be a more scientific study to determine if that was true, but utilizing ion molecules does sound better than a gas. Of course, marketing buzzwords aside, it's time for the real question. Does it work for hiding your scent from a whitetail's nose? I decided to deploy it during the Michigan firearms deer season to find out.
One major selling point of the Wildgame Innovations over other products on the market right now like Ozonics is simply the price point. The Zerotrace retails for about $200. I got mine on eBay for $150. It's roughly half of what many more expensive products go for. In the box, you get the unit itself, two rechargeable lithium battery packs, a charger, an adjustable mount and a strap to mount the device to a tree.
I should note right off the bat that this product was larger than I was anticipating. I was expecting something on par with the company's Terra line of trail cameras which are compact. The Zerotrace is roughly twice the size of one of these cameras. It's about eight inches high by five inches wide and about 4.5 inches thick. I'm not sure what it weighs, but it's probably about a pound. I usually carry all my hunting gear in a waist pack, and I had to carry a second one to transport the Zerotrace eliminator. How much of an inconvenience the size is will depend on the person. For me, it was mildly annoying.
Before I bought this unit, I read conflicting reviews online from people who said the fan was too loud. There is no denying it, it does make noise. If you like the peace and serenity of the outdoors, get used to a low mechanical whirring noise. However, I should notice that I never once had a deer take notice of the sound. In fact, I had several close encounters where deer walked right past without ever once looking my way.
Like a ghost in the forest.
The past three years I have already been utilizing a clothing storage method known as "The Airlocker," which is manufactured right here in southwest Michigan where I live. This simple product had already resulted in more deer sightings for me since once my hunting stuff is washed, it doesn't see the inside of the house again until after the season is over.
This year, combining the Zerotrace with the Airlocker seemingly made for the perfect one-two punch combo. I was NEVER winded this season. Not once. To say my mind was blown would be an understatement. I saw more deer, more often all season long. I saw six different bucks on my first five hunts of the year alone. Each one progressively bigger than the rest.
One of the bucks, a young 8-pointer, which I passed up the first time I saw him, walked to within seven yards of my treestand. He looked right up at me in the tree, but never alerted that I was there. The photo above is a screencap of video taken on my phone when he was right under my stand. If only I had this machine back when I was still into bowhunting! I should mention that we had less than ideal conditions for the season too. Opening morning saw 35+ mile per hour wind gusts and swirling winds between nine and 15 miles per hour continued through almost all my hunts. By the end of the season, I stopped caring what the wind was doing for the most part, because I felt like a ghost in the woods. This unit would be excellent for early season archery hunting when temperatures are high and you are sweating more.
I probably sat roughly seven or eight different locations for the 15-day firearms season. I used the Zerotrace for every single outing, whether that was in a treestand or a ground blind. Wildgame Innovations says the machine gets about six hours of battery life off a single charge. That's why they include two batteries, so you have enough for an all-day sit. However, my second hunt with the Zerotrace was an all-day sit of roughly 10 hours. I ran the machine on the default "50" setting all day and never had to swap them out. The six-hour battery life they are talking about seems to refer more to when you enable "boost mode" for maximum concealment. Either way, the rechargeable battery life of the unit I received was excellent.
The bottom line
About six days into the season, I harvested the young 8-pointer I mentioned earlier in this post. Through a judgement error that was entirely my fault, I mis-identified him as another buck. It wasn't a deer I originally intended to harvest. However, mistakes happen, that's part of hunting. It's worth noting however, that when I shot him, he was quartering slightly away from me at 70 yards and the wind was blowing his direction at the time. He never once lifted his head my way and he never knew that 250-grain .450 Bushmaster bullet was coming.
I should mention this deer was one of those incredibly smelly harvests. Some deer just stink after you shoot them and this one left a noticeable odor on some of my hunting equipment after the fact. So, I placed the smelly gear in front of the Zerotrace, and within a few hours those smells were gone. It seems the thing really does work at eliminating smelly odors!
If you are seriously considering an electronic scent control unit, I can heartily recommend the Zerotrace. It's got great battery life and it costs half as much as the competition. I know I'll be using this thing every season from now on. I may even utilize it for camping or for when I need to eliminate a smelly odor in the home.