Studies have shown that deer have noses anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, and they use the to interpret what’s going on in their environment, using a gland located in their mouths.
This complex system is far more sophisticated than what humans can even begin to comprehend, and it alerts them easily to presence of dangers, including humans. So how do get close enough for hunting? A good hunter has a multi-step process:
Step #1: Use hunter’s detergent for laundry. The body’s natural scent isn’t the only concern. Scent-A-Way MAX odorless laundry detergent and Hunter’s Edge with Silver are two good brands. They’ll get rid of the scent build-up in your clothes, whether it’s from smoke, gas, human scent, or product perfumes.
Step #2: Dry your clothes on a line outside. The dryer collects scents from detergents, dryer bars, and softener sheets. If you lack the space for this drying method, at least air out hunting clothing before you use it.
Step #3: Store dry clothing in an air-tight container. Plastic containers like storage bins work well. If any moisture is still in the clothing, odors will increase due to chemical reaction. Fill a sock with baking soda and place it inside just in case, to absorb bad odor and moisture. Change it out every month to make sure it’s still working.
Step #4: Shower in Scent Killer Body Wash & Shampoo. It attacks and eliminates human odor and works long-term. It isn’t harsh on your skin while being so effective either; it has a gentle formula with moisturizers. This can be found in stores like Walmart or Amazon but in the sporting goods section, not with soaps by the pharmacy. It’s fairly cheap, under six dollars for twelve ounces.
Step #5: Use unscented deodorant, brush your teeth, and avoid other scents from sprays and gels. Avoid any scents that make you more noticeable - invest in unscented deodorants, hair gels and sprays, and whatever other toiletries you use. Obviously avoid colognes and perfumes. Some people are horrified at the suggestion one wouldn’t brush their teeth and others think it’s best not to - after all toothpastes can be minty!
But there are baking soda-based toothpastes out there with little to no odor, and honestly, have you ever been with someone who didn’t brush their teeth? Sometimes the odor is strong and noticeable. Minty wins over bad breath any time, but there are non-scented options available too.
Step #6: Don’t put your hunting clothes on until you go to the hunting area. Don’t even take them out of their airtight container. A deer’s nose is far more sophisticated than ours, so if you put those clothes on at home, then play with the kids on the way out, stop for breakfast, and pump gas, you’ve blown your whole cover.
Step #7: Use a quality scent elimination spray. You’re still not done - THAT is how sensitive the nose of the deer is and how hard it is to get rid of your own smell. Try Scent Killer Gold; spray your clothes the day before. Allow it to dry then put the clothing back in the container. Spray each layer, especially where scents gather like in the armpits and crotch. The way the spray works is by adhering to odor molecules and making them too heavy to form a gas. Spray it again when you put on the clothes.
Step #8: Wear rubber boots and avoid touching things. You’ve now effectively dealt with the scents you’re taking into the woods, but remember not to leave scents behind either. Otherwise you’ll let the deer know where you’ve been and that you’re there, even if they aren’t sure where. The strength of the scent and how long it lingers are determined by weather, temperature, and surface, among other things, so you could have the deer on guard for a long time.