A lot has been written on the subject of a whitetail’s olfactory advantage. There’s no doubt, North America’s number one big game animal has one "serious snoot." Their sense of smell plays a role in basically every part of their existence. It’s really so sophisticated it’s hard for us to understand. As much as the subject is promoted, it’s a wonder some hunters don’t do more to battle it if they wish success. The question is "How far do you need to go to fool their nose?"
I am guilty of preaching the praises of "scent elimination." I believe so strongly in the Scent Killer System I may sometimes give "false security" to some hunters. I have seen these products fool a mature buck’s nose time and time again. But, some hunters seem to get the impression a good system of scent elimination will protect them from anything. Is scent elimination all you need? My answer is, "scent elimination is a needed step, and one of the most important. However, scent elimination is not a ‘cure-all’ for sloppy mistakes in the woods."
It matters which part of the hunt you’re executing as to how you should prepare to combat their olfactory order. Do you need to fool their nose now, three hours from now or ten days from now? Every time I enter their domain I go through many of the same steps—I shower with Scent Killer Soap and then head straight to the field. I don’t stay in places where bad smells may cling to me once I’ve showered. Brushing your teeth and using Scent Killer Deodorant are details I’d also recommend. All my clothes have been washed in Scent Killer Wash and dried outside or in a clean drier, and they aren’t put on until I get to the exact area I want to hunt or scout. Finally, my clothes have also been treated with Scent Killer Spray. This helps kill any odors in the clothes and, more importantly, helps take away the odors my human body is giving off.
When scouting or creating an ambush site, my basic system of scent elimination doesn’t vary much, but how I dress and how I prepare does. When scouting, knee-high, rubber boots and gloves are needed. When scouting or setting up a treestand, my biggest concern is "scent transfer." I don’t want an animal to know I’ve been there. That’s pretty tough when you’re up against a mature buck, but rubber boots and rubber gloves help me get away with a lot more. We can’t totally eliminate all foreign odors, but I am confident we can significantly reduce it to trace levels even a mature buck will tolerate.
Don’t touch anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. Every time you touch something, it’s like "pushing" your scent onto that object. Think about when you grabbed the branch to move it out of the way or when you walked to your treestand you passed through tall grass that touched above your rubber boots or when walking through some brush several pieces whacked your forehead. Those are all mistakes a mature buck will pick up on.
When setting up my treestand or when making a scent set-up, I will sometimes wear rubber hip-boots or even chest waders to do the work, and always some type of rubber glove or trapper’s glove. Even when wearing these protective covers, I’m still very careful not to touch anything unless I have to.
Several years ago, I believe the tiny detail of wearing trapper’s gloves was the difference in harvesting a 150-inch ten-pointer. I had set up in the right spot. Early in the morning I made an estrus bleat with my voice and this very respectable 5X5 came in fast and stopped. He was looking for exactly where the sound had come from. I had no chance for a shot even though he was only 20 yards. The buck angled away from me and cut my approach trail in the fresh snow. That sneaky buck sniffed every single step I had made and he tracked me right to the tree. He then sniffed the first three treesteps I had screwed into the tree. My next thought was that he was going to look straight up at me in the tree. He knew something was different, but he did not associate "human" or "danger" to the equation because I was careful about scent transfer. Tiny details pay off big in this area. I associate success on that buck to wearing rubber-bottomed boots on stand approach and screwing in my treesteps while wearing trapper’s gloves.
The item that varies most, pending on which aspect I’m involved in, is my footwear. When setting up a treestand, scouting or making a scent set-up, long, rubber boots and rubber gloves are great tools to aid in minimizing scent transfer. However, while actually hunting, a full-length rubber boot is a warm, moist, enclosed place, as is a rubber glove. They are a breeding ground for human scent molecules to form. When hunting, I prefer a rubber-bottomed pac-boot that allows my foot to breath. The "rubber bottom" is the important part. During early season the traditional knee-high, rubber boot is very popular. If you do wear these for hunting, wash them often, inside and out, and possibly rotate pairs. It is also a good idea when wearing rubber boots to give the area where the top of your boots and your pant leg meet a good dose of Scent Killer. This will help prevent human scent molecules from forming a gas.
Another detail I believe helps is scrubbing the inside of my vehicle with Scent Killer Soap. Once it is washed, no gas cans, fast-food or people who smell like smoke are allowed in it. (Those of you who smoke, I’m not getting down on you for smoking. I’m simply stating the fact "cigarette smoke DOES NOT attract whitetail.") Be a fanatic about keeping things as scent-free as possible.
Much of getting past the shrewd defenses of a buck is learning "how they use their nose and how to play the wind and thermal current." Here, experience is your best teacher and some type of a wind puffer or breeze detector the best tool. A fine, scent-free powder will help you see the wind and thermal current. You would be amazed at how currents can actually be flowing.
This season I’m trying an Ozonics Scent Control Device. This cutting-edge technology creates ozone which reacts directly with scent molecules from any source converting odors to pure oxygen. Ozone is a naturally-occurring cleansing agent found in the earth’s atmosphere and it can effectively remove human scent from the body, clothing and equipment of a hunter or sportsman. It also removes odors (natural and bacteria derived) in the air emitted from a hunter’s skin or mouth. I have the HR-100 model which has a rechargeable battery and is easily transported to a treestand or blind. You simply place it in your blind or treestand so your scent stream is covered.
It’s really a combination of scent elimination and hunter’s savvy that’s the best weapon against a buck’s olfactory protection. Keep things clean, pay attention to details and, when you watch deer, remember how they act and react under different conditions. Their nose is an arduous opponent, but even mature bucks can be fooled if you do things right.
Todd Amenrud is the Director of Public Relations, Territory Manager & Habitat Consultant for BioLogic.