5 Hunting Scent Control Tips

May 11, 2021 4 min read

hunter stalking prey

Like most hunted species, deer possess an exceptionally well-developed sense of smell to detect threats and predators. Although a skilled hunter always tries to place themselves downwind, wind direction can change without warning, and it’s not always possible to adapt your position perfectly. Neglecting to control your natural human odors — or any artificial odors you introduce — can cause animals to detect your scent and evade you, lowering your chances of success. Here are some hunting scent control tips for both you and your hunting blind.

1. Keep Your Clothes Scent-Free

Standard detergents are great for cleaning your clothes but cause them to absorb noticeably unnatural odors. To a deer, freshly cleaned clothes with regular supermarket detergent will make you stick out. Although some hunters recommend DIY solutions with borax and specific soap brands, the best way to address this issue is to use purpose-designed unscented detergents for hunting. Air dry your clothes on a clothesline and store them in airtight containers so they do not pick up dryer odors or absorb external scents.

Prioritize using rubber boots instead of any other materials. Even leather is breathable to a degree, allowing foot odors to escape. Pair your rubber boots with moisture-wicking socks with antibacterial odor control to help regulate your temperature and keep you comfortable without emitting any odors. Above all, do not drive to the hunting location already dressed in your hunting clothes. Dress on-site in your hunting blind, and use a scent-eliminating spray, applying it from head to toe. If you’re hunting during the warmer months, keep the spray with you and regularly apply it to yourself and your clothes. Not only does the cool sensation feel pleasant, but it can help you fight the effects of perspiration.

Brush In Your Blind

2. Brush In Your Blind

If you’ve recently purchased a new ground blind or you are planning to build a DIY hunting blind, make sure to install them at least several weeks in advance of the hunting season — preferably, a few months. However, merely installing the new structure and leaving it as-is is not sufficient. An essential part of the preparation process is brushing in: using local branches, leaves, and other foliage to cover your blind. Brushing in your blind presents many advantages. It breaks up the unnatural shapes of your ground blind or conceals your elevated blind’s support structure and platform ladder, and brushing in with local vegetation also covers the structure with odors familiar to local wildlife.

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3. Mind Your Business

If you hunt from dawn to dusk, you will have to eat and drink on-site and, inevitably, you will need to do your business at one point or another. Urination and defecation produce strong odors, which are sure to give you away if you don’t take the proper precautions. For the former, consider using a rigid plastic bottle, such as one from a sports drink. The heavier grade of plastic ensures it will not produce a crackling noise when using it. 

For the latter, walk at least several hundred yards away from your blind or your stand, select the most secluded spot possible and make sure to observe the wind direction as you would while hunting. Dig a cathole with a camping shovel and bury the waste. If you use toilet paper, make sure to burn it down to ashes. After finishing your business, keep your hands clean using unscented antibacterial wet wipes or use unscented hand sanitizer. 

4. Watch Your Diet

A responsible hunter should be careful with their diet, as it can significantly impact their scent. Certain foods can cause bad breath or gas, which may harm your chances of success. Avoid eating or handling food such as garlic, onion, pepper, beans, lentils, or horseradish. Watch your fish intake — especially canned fish — and be careful with dairy products such as cheese and milk, as they cause bad breath to linger for a long time. Many of us enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning. However, keep in mind that all caffeinated drinks are mild diuretics, causing you to need the bathroom more often. Limit your coffee intake before the hunt, and try to avoid caffeinated beverages when on-site.

5. Use Supplemental Tools

Sometimes, the best way to control your scent is to cover yourself with something that smells more familiar and less dangerous to a deer. These are known as cover scents. There are different types of cover scents you can use. What’s most appropriate depends on the season and your local area. For example, when hunting during the rut, you can take advantage of doe estrous to attract bucks closer to your location.

If your hunting location is relatively close to farmland with cattle, local deer may already be used to the odor of cow droppings. Some hunters recommend intentionally stepping into cow dung to aid in masking your scent. If there are numerous pine trees in your area, rubbing a branch onto your clothes spreads pine essential oil on them, helping cover your scent. You can use this technique with other local trees and vegetation.

Increase Your Chance of Success with Scent Control

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