Nothing can guarantee you won’t spook deer, but you have to try.
Although we tend to underestimate their eyes, there's no question sense of smell is the whitetail’s number one defense.
If we all know that, then why do we get busted so often?
The answer has many layers, but for starters their noses are just that good. Next, you can never completely predict how scent will travel in various terrain features, thermals and the always-finicky wind. In addition, our bodies are constantly producing new odors no matter how well we’ve showered and regardless of the precautions we’ve taken to keep our clothes scent-free.
For those reasons, there is no sure-fire way to beat a buck’s nose. That said, it’s important to try.
Why? Because it is possible to control your scent to the extent you can get away with an occasional wrong-way breeze. The size of your window of forgiveness depends largely on your scent-control system. The fewer stink molecules that are present, the better your chances of keeping a deer from spooking. And keep in mind it’s just as important to remain undetected by does as your target buck. He’s not going to come around if there’s a nervous doe stomping and snorting nearby.
Use proven scent-killing body soap and shampoo. Wash your clothes in a quality scent-eliminating detergent (one that doesn’t have UV brighteners), and keep your clothes away from anything that might transfer odors into the fabric. Wipe your gear with scent killer, and spray or wash soft gear like packs or seat cushions. Next, always hunt downwind of where you hope to see deer. Finally, consider using one of the scent machines available today.
There are two types of portable odor-killing units on the market, and both work in much the same way.
Ozone-based machines produce ozone, or O3. A highly unstable molecule, O3 latches onto other molecules (scent molecules, for example) and breaks them down, rendering them odorless.
Ion-based machines produce positive and negative ions that also attach to and neutralize odor molecules.
By placing one of these scent-eliminating machines slightly higher than your head and pointed so it intercepts your odor stream, you’re essentially creating a safety blanket that covers whatever scent your body has produced (and continues to produce) since your shower. They also help neutralize scent coming off your clothes and other gear.
One of the best things about these machines is the molecules they produce ride the wind and thermals just like your odor molecules do.
The two drawbacks to these machines are their cost, and the extra bulk and weight of carrying them to the field.
For bowhunting, the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Finally, even a complete system that includes a scent-killing machine cannot guarantee you won’t spook deer. But when it does happen, it’s comforting to know you did everything you possibly could to avoid it. Read Recent Tip of the Week:
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