Bowhunting for big game animals presents a big challenge. Getting within twenty or thirty yards of an animal can be difficult. Once you get that close, the last thing you want to do is have the buck of a lifetime catch a whiff of human odor and spook before you get a chance to take a shot which is why being scent free is a must if you want to increase your chances of success when bowhunting.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A SHOWER
Many hunters fail to make sure their skin and hair are odor-free before they leave for the woods. Taking a quick shower will make the most significant difference in the amount of odor you carry into the woods. If possible, make sure to shower with scent eliminating soap before every hunt. If you’re confused about which product to use, several members of the Bowhunting.com staff recommend Dead Down Wind Body & Hair wash. It can be purchased in our online store for just $7.99 per bottle and does a great job at not just eliminating human odor, put preventing it as well.
In order to be as effective as possible make sure that you use scent-free soaps and shampoos throughout the course of your hunting season. Only using these products before you go hunting will lessen their effectiveness as the perfumes from standard soaps and shampoos will linger in your skin and on your hair for several weeks at a time. Best practice for the ultimate scent elimination is to begin using these products several weeks before you plan on hunting in order to be as scent free as possible.
If you find yourself in a sitation where you cannot shower before your hunt try using one of the several brands of field wipes to wash yourself down with. Focus on scent prone areas under your arms as well as your neck, face, and hands. It may not be as good as showering, but it’s better than nothing!
Also, in order to make your scent control routine more effective make sure to use a scent-free deodorant as well. There are several diffent types of deodorants on the market including brands from Dead Down Wind and Deer-Odorant from Hunting Science with both work very well.
ODOR ELIMINATING SPRAYS
Scent eliminating sprays are another key ingredient for proper scent elimination. The key is making sure all of your clothes and other bowhunting gear stay scent free before and after every hunt. Make sure you spray down your clothes with scent eliminating spray before entering the woods in order to avoid leaving unnecessary scent behind on your way in or out of your stand. Many bowhunters also choose to spray down once they reach their stand as well as a measure of additional security. Don’t forget to spray down your accessories as well including your bow, backpack, and anything else you may bring into the field with you. New Evolve Field Spray from Dead Down Wind is a great option for scent elimination that is available in a variety of sizes including a small 8 ounce bottle that fits in your pack.
One of the most popular ways to beat the nose of a whitetail or any other big game animal is to wear a carbon-lined suit. However, many hunters experience so-so results when wearing a carbon suit mainly because they don’t understand how to properly care for one. In order for a carbon suit to be effective, it must be activated in a dryer for 40 minutes after about 40 hours of field use. Once the suit is activated, it should be placed in a scent-free container until the hunter arrives in the woods. This is where many hunters make a mistake. They activate their suit and place it in the back of their truck or hang it in their closet. The suit is attracting odors while it is in the truck or in the closet. It may be an odor from a coat on the hanger next to it. It may smell like fuel if it sits in a truck while the hunter is fueling up.
If you are a person who forks out the cash for a carbon suit, make sure you wear the entire suit – especially the head cover. Testing reveals that up to one third of human odor comes from the mouth and top of the head. Without the head cover, lots of bad odors are blowing around in the woods.
Speaking of odors from our mouth, there are two great products on the market that address this issue and provide relief for bowhunters who are concerned about this. One of these products is Gum-O-Flage from Hunting Science. Available in the Bowhunting.com online store, this gum product contains chlorophyll and anti-microbial agents that help eliminate and prevent breath odor. For a few dollars per pack it’s well worth the investment considering how much scent is emmitted through our mouths and noses while we hunt. Click here for more information about Gum-O-Flage.
The 2nd product is called the Smootchie and is a disposable facemask containing large amounts of activated carbon to block scent as it’s leaving your mouth. These are a good alternative to traditional activated carbon facemasks that must be reactivated after every couple of uses. Simply use them once and dispose of them after your hunt.
In addition to the hood and gloves, it is important to make sure your feet are scent free. Studies show that the nose of a whitetail detects human odor left behind by boots days after hunters leave the woods. To make sure your hunting boots are scent-free, keep them in a scent-free container when you are not wearing them. Wearing them to the store and then into the woods is a big no-no. Wearing odor-eliminating socks is another way to help eliminate foot odor. Before putting your boots on, spray them down with some type of odor eliminator. Spray your feet down before putting on the socks as well. Taking these extra precautions can help you eliminate even more odor. Every little bit of odor you eliminate increases your chances of outsmarting Mr. Big.
To make sure the carbon suit or other hunting clothes remain scent free, they must be stored properly. Many companies make storage containers especially designed for storing hunting clothes. If you find yourself low on cash and want to protect your clothes from foreign odors that can contaminate a suit, store them in a Rubbermaid container. They aren’t designed for hunting like many of the specialty containers that contain carbon to adsorb odors are, but they are better than storing your clothes in the back of your truck or on your garage floor.
OTHER ODOR ELIMINATORS
Chlorophyll pills are another way to help eliminate your human body odor. Chlorophyll pills have been around for years and are prescribed by doctors for patients who have extremely bad breath or body odor. More hunters recently started using these pills because they help eliminate human odor from the inside out. Most humans smell like carnivores to big game animals. According to chlorophyll pill makers, taking a chlorophyll pill eliminates human odor and makes humans smell more like plants which is where chlorophyll comes from. One of the most popular chlorophyll pills is called Chlor-O-Flage and is also available for purchase in the Bowhunting.com store. Several staff members have been using it for two years now and swear by it.
NEVER CUT CORNERS
The reason many hunters get winded when using scent-eliminating products is because they cut corners in the scent eliminating process. According to Outdoor Writer Steve Bartylla, if hunters want to eliminate enough of the odor to fool the nose of a deer when they are twenty yards away, they must follow a routine to eliminate their odor before they enter the woods. “Most hunters I know who are serious bowhunters wear a carbon suit from head to toe and spray down all of their other gear with an odor eliminating spray. Boots, bows and other gear must be sprayed down before going in the woods. Hunters who don’t use a carbon suit should always spray down their clothes with an odor eliminating spray every time they hunt,” Bartylla suggested.
Mick Bowman from Kansas regularly scores on big bucks by having a regular routine he follows before every hunt. “Before hunting, I shower with scent eliminating soap. When I get into the woods, I spray my boots and gear down with a scent eliminating spray. After that, I put on a carbon suit complete with the head cover and gloves. After the hunt, I store my clothes and gear in a scent-proof container. Staying scent free is a lot of work but it pays off in the long run. Almost every year, I find myself at full draw on a large whitetail. Many times they are down- wind of me, but because I make sure I am scent free, they don’t have a clue I am in the tree” Bowman explained.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Twenty years ago when odor eliminating sprays first appeared on the scene, hunters were skeptical. A few years after that, carbon suits were introduced and again hunters were skeptical. However, after decades of being used, many hunters swear by scent eliminating sprays and carbon suits. One of the toughest things about harvesting a big game animal with a bow is outwitting their number one defense: their nose. Many hunters still believe that hunters can’t outwit the nose of a whitetail but science has proved that we can be ALMOST invisible in the woods. Carbon suits and odor eliminating sprays have been tested by independent labs that have confirmed that the products work. The bigger question is will hunters go through the hassle of following a diligent routine that ensures they are scent free? There is no question that remaining scent free while hunting is hard work…. but it is worth it!