Any good hunter knows that masking one's scent is critical to putting meat in the freezer. You simply cannot be in an animals environment, smell like something that doesn't naturally belong there and expect for those that live there - who have developed a keen sense of smell over millions of years to not notice you. It just won't happen.
Scent elimination is an absolute necessity to hunting. We know this but, why don't more hunters think critically about how they smell when they're hunting? Well, for one, our sense of smell is nowhere near as well developed as most of the animals we hunt for and so, smelling ourselves doesn't come natural.
As a bit of a primer, I'd like to take a few moments and give you some food for thought before you make your next trip into the woods. First, we will review the sense of smell of some commonly sought after animal species.
Sense of smell is typically measured by the number of olfactory receptors that species has. Think of this as like, taste buds for smell on the brain. Humans have about five million receptors in the olfactory bulb which is located on the brain.
We commonly see a dog as having the gold standard in terms of sense of smell. Dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors on their brain but, did you know that a deer has a whopping 297 million receptors?! The scent processing area in a deer is 9x larger than that of a human. The sense of smell in a deer is so great in fact that they have two glads devoted to smell. Their second gland is located in their mouth and is referred to as the "vomeronasal organ". This helps them to actually separate out different smells in the environment.
Bear have the ability to smell a dead animal from up to 20 miles away! Their olfactory bulb is five times larger than that of us humans and they have nearly 100x more receptors than we do.
Coyotes have similar sense of smell, if not a little more developed than domesticated dogs which is about 220 million olfactory receptors.
Believe it or not, a pig and their wild brethren have better noses than deer. While their distance is not quite up to par with bear, they can still smell certain scents up to seven miles away but also have the ability to smell something up to 25 feet underground. This is why pigs are used to find those mysterious and incredibly valuable truffles!
Here's one that you could roll out of bed and not have to worry about. Birds in general, do not have highly developed sense of smell. Exceptions would be vultures and condors. Turkey have well developed hearing but, smell is not their strong suit.
Now that we have established what you're up against out there how can you take advantage of this knowledge? Well, for one, a few sprays of scent blocker or a little doe urine isn't going to be enough to fool anything other than a yearling and, I'm guessing that's not what you're out there for. You want the trophy buck. You want the story. You want the mount over the fireplace. Here's how you get there:
Wash Your Clothes
This needs to be a separate wash with no detergent. Use baking soda. Detergent and fabric softener - even that "fresh scent" isn't natural. Don't dry them in a dryer with a dryer sheet either. If possible, hang them outside to air dry and pick outdoor scent - you catch my drift here?
When your clothes are dry and you aren't going to be using them say, after hunting season, put them in a garbage bag and a plastic tote to avoid them taking on the scents from around your house. Some even put leaves of small branches of their hunting locations to maintain the natural smell of the environment.
Avoid Unnatural Odors On Your Clothes
If you're on your way out to the woods, don't smoke, put on cologne (even for a few days before), have air fresheners in your car, use your essential oil diffuser, chewing tobacco or even use scented toothpaste. Don't fill up your gas tank, cook up that big bacon breakfast, spill coffee on yourself or do anything else that will acquire foreign smells in the clothes you'll be hunting in. Oh, and hold off on the bean burrito too...they'll smell your farts.
Avoid Unnatural Odors From You
Shower with scent free shampoo and body wash. Dry off with towels that don't have fabric softener scents in them as it does you no good to use scent free products and then dry yourself off with a towel that smells like Snuggles' blankie.
Use Scent Masking Deodorant
Some hunters powder themselves up with baking soda to help absorb body odor. Another option is to use a deodorant that specifically matches the environment you're going to be in. Think about it like this; it's going to take some effort to get to your hunting location and no matter the temperature, you're going to perspire while doing so. When we sweat, we're giving off our scent. It's inevitable. When you hear that deer coming up on you, it's natural that your heart is going to be beating a million miles per hour. That fear, anxiety and anticipation is secreted through our sweat glands. If you don't think that a deer catching a whiff of your perspiration is going to send them bounding off in the other direction, well, you probably have a whole list of excuses to tell your significant other why you never seem to come home with any meat.
A great option for blending in is Green Theory scent masking probiotic deodorant. It is the perfect deodorant for hunting. Green Theory has five scents all matched to the trees you'll be hunting in and around (Fir, Pine, Juniper, Cedar and Birch) allowing you to become part of the environment. It contains all natural ingredients, odor fighting baking soda and the BO blasting power of probiotics to keep you undetectable out there. As an added benefit, it also contains bentonite clay, a volcanic ash that pulls toxins out of your body. You get healthier just by using it! You can and should use this in conjunction with your scent blocker spray.
Always check the wind before and during your hunt to keep any of your human smells from blowing toward the deer. Try tying a piece of thread to your stand, gun or bow, then watch it throughout the day to make sure it’s blowing away from the quarry.
If the wind changes direction, you’ll want to change your location, so keep this in mind while you’re plotting the position of your treestand.
While we can never truly even the playing field when it comes to scent, these are just some helpful suggestions for you to make the most of each hunting trip. Remember, an ounce of prevention on your part is worth far more than a pound of cure (or a bunch of excuses). Be mindful of the fact that you are a foreign body entering in a foreign environment with animals that have evolved for millions of years to simply thrive where you're hunting.
Best wishes and good hunting!