by Paul Annear
With an abundance of quick and easy to use scent control tactics, is it ok to practice last minute scent control tactics?
If you can fool the nose, you can fool the deer. Each fall, hunters spend heavy dollar amounts on scent control gear. Ozone, carbon clothing, urine scent, cover scents and scent eliminating sprays all entice bowhunters who are wanting to fool a buck’s nose. But how far in advance of a hunt should you be treating your clothing, gear and body? I have my opinions, but I also asked Dan Johnson of the Nine Finger Chronicles for his.
Before the Hunt
After each season, I will wash and fully dry all my hunting clothes to ensure they are being stored scent-free during the off-season. The last thing I want to do is compromise my expensive hunting clothing simply because I was lazy and did not wash them at the end of the year. A few days before a hunt, I will hang my outer layers outside and spray them with scent eliminating spray and then allow them to dry. After a few hours, I will pull them off the line and run most of my clothes through ozone. Keep in mind, there are many ozone units that are not necessarily marketed for hunting, although they work just fine. If I am hunting the next day, I will take a scent free shower the evening prior and then again right before I plan to get dressed for a hunt. Even if I am going to work in between the two showers, I will still take a shower the night before a planned hunt. I am sure taking just one scent-free shower before a hunt would suffice, but I like the confidence of knowing I went a step further.
I have heard of some hunters using nothing but scent eliminating soap throughout the months of hunting season. To me, that is taking things to an unnecessary extreme. Dan Johnson of the Nine Finger Chronicles Podcast would agree. Dan says, “I am not a scent control freak by any means. Early season, I will shower right before the evening hunt. During the rut, I will only take a shower before the morning hunt, even if I plan to take a break and hunt again in the evening.” Each hunter is different, but an important step in scent control before a hunt is at least making sure you have covered all your bases, and play the wind to your advantage.
Last Minute Scent Control
Ozone has long been understood to eliminate odors in a variety of applications outside the hunting world. Its popularity has just recently caught on with the hunting industry in the last five years or so. Ozone works by transforming oxygen molecules into ozone molecules and destroying bacteria which can cause odor. From using an ozone storage bag and closet, to a plug in ozone unit for your truck, and even a portable unit for the tree stand—ozone has made its way into every phase of the scent control regimen. I have personally purchased a small ozone unit and use it in the hours leading up to the hunt.
Dan Johnson also uses ozone by utilizing the ozone storage bag and will give his clothes a treatment the night before the hunt. Countless hunters tend to agree that treating your clothes with ozone in a tight storage tub or bag for about thirty minutes can make a huge difference in the outcome of your hunt. It’s a last minute plan that can pay off big. On the flipside, planning ahead for scent control usually means washing, drying, storing, and then dousing your clothes with wet scent killing spray right before the hunt. This process is fine if you have the time and/or remember to follow through with the chore. Johnson, however, says he never uses eliminating sprays when he hits the woods, rather he relies on the efficiency of the ozone storage bag that he’s treated his hunting clothes with prior to the hunt. If you are an ozone believer, you may think you can eliminate the need for advanced planning when it comes to scent control, but is that truly the case?
I believe there is no greater scent control tactic than using the wind in your favor while hunting. Whether you plan your scent control for days, or just hours before you hunt with ozone, it is nearly impossible to fool a whitetail’s nose if they catch your scent downwind. Religious washing, spraying, and use of ozone on your clothes might trick a deer into thinking the scent is further away, or a few days old—but it is very difficult to fully eliminate human scent in the whitetail woods. With the recent influx of easy to use scent control products, I believe a final hour scent control plan can be just as effective as a long, drawn out routine. No matter if you are planning ahead or using last minute scent control, it is important to play the wind and understand your property and how wind moves about the land. Good luck out there this season!