View Full Version : Which Scents Spook Deer?
November 29, 1999, 09:17 AM
As I, a novice deer hunter, prepare to go afield tomorrow, I wonder how much effort I need to put into scent control.
I'm washing my clothes with "Sport Wash" to leave them unscented and non-UV-brightened. I'm also going to shower with unscented soap and wear rubber boots and a surplus charcoal-lined chemical warfare suit to further reduce my odor emissions.
Then again, I'm also going to be carrying a gun (Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum) that to a deer's nose probably reeks of gunpowder and gun oil. But would a deer associate the gun's odor with danger?
I also imagine that there are going to be hundreds, if not thousands, of heavy smokers in the woods smelling like ashtrays, and some of those fellows are still going to bag deer.
Should I be more worried about spooking a deer with movement? Or with the "click" of a hammer being thumbed back? I'm going to be hunting from a tree stand, so I hope to be above the deer's area of awareness.
November 29, 1999, 11:37 AM
Matt, don't get all worked up about your scent, concentrate in the hunt itself. Deer surely will smell you, but have no idea what is human or even that they are being pursued. Enjoy the hunt, that is what is most important. Be confidant!
November 29, 1999, 11:50 AM
Thanks for the words of encouragement. I expect to enjoy myself, even if the deer don't make an appearance. I hunted for the first time two years ago and actually managed to track a deer down while still hunting; unfortunately, it was in the "anterless" season and he had a nice rack. Still, it was thrilling to lock eyes with him for a few seconds before he bounded away.
Even if I don't see any deer, I'll get to enjoy a steaming mug of hot cocoa when I come in from the cold. :)
November 29, 1999, 03:20 PM
I think you are correct to be more worried about movement than scent. These days, with the proliferation of TV hunting shows and the abundance of scent related products being advertised on those shows, it is easy to overlook the most easily achieved method of overcoming an animal's nose -- hunt downwind from where you expect the animals to be! This is where good scouting can overcome even the worst cases of B.O.! :)
At the same time, if using scent controlling products (scent can't be eliminated, despite what some ads might claim) gives you more confidence in your hunting and if they add to your enjoyment, then by all means, use them.
I hunt with a guy who smokes constantly on stand, and given his success, I'm thinking of taking up smoking while hunting!
November 29, 1999, 07:19 PM
Robert the41MagFan is right, you shouldn't get all worked up about scent. If you keep up with personal hygene and bath daily don't worry about it. Yes I have had deer smell me during turkey season but it took them a while before they did and it was untill I moved that they were startled. Deer operate more on movement and sound, thats where your main priority should be. Walk very slowly and stop every so often until you reach a spot where you wish to sit and wait. The scent deal has been blown out of proportion big time. Major marketing corporations have used the "scent" problem to sucker gullible deer hunters into their products. Don't become a victim to the hype.
November 30, 1999, 12:25 AM
Solo: Glad you mentioned marketing hype. The same holds for camo, as far as deer are concerned. Turkeys, doves, camo yes. Deer, why bother?
To a deer's eyes, all colors are shades of gray. I've watched does walk up close to guys in blue jeans and Levi jacket, so long as the doe was upwind of the fella.
MattVDW, any noise you make cocking the hammer will cause more problems than smell or "shine". If you walk quietly, non-rhythmically, into the wind, smell won't really matter. If you sit, do your best to imitate a rock. When you move your head, first move your eyes, and then *slowly* turn your head. Position yourself with the wind in your favor, with respect to the probable direction to see deer...
November 30, 1999, 10:00 AM
So long as you are hunting with a firearm, I wouldn't be too concerned with your scent. Additionally, it sounds like you are hunting on public land whereby many other part-time hunters will be trompsing through the field. From a treestand, with the wind at your face or quartering your face, you'll be in good shape if anything comes within 50 yards or less.
When you are ready to take up the close encounters required while bowhunting, scent is absolutely everything.
December 1, 1999, 09:01 AM
I haven't hunted much in the past couple of years, but I was using a scent called Nature's Own that worked really well.
Also, what I did was go out into the woods, gather a 1/2 trash bag full of leaves, pine needles, flowers, etc from the area I was hunting. Then I washed all of my hunting stuff in scent-free "hunting" detergent. I let them airdry outside away from the house and other scents. Then I put them in my trashbag.
From then on, the only thing I wore to my hunting area were long johns, etc under a pair of coveralls that I pulled from my bag.
Then, when I got to the hunting area, I dressed in my hunting stuff. Then I sprayed on the cover scent.
Of course, all that work doesn't do any good if you don't follow the fundamentals of being quiet, woodsmanship, etc...
December 1, 1999, 09:42 AM
Thanks for the advice, all. Here's what happened yesterday:
04:00 - Woke up.
04:45 - Departed for rural home of an acquaintance (I'll call him "Jim")who had told my wife that I was welcome to join him hunting.
05:30 - Realized that finding Jim's house in the dark with skimpy directions was going to be difficult.
05:45 - Got lost.
06:00 - Arrived at Jim's house, about 15 minutes behind schedule.
06:15 - Finished putting on extra clothing layers and hunting gear.
06:20 - Started following Jim into the woods down a steep, brushy creek bank.
06:35 - Arrived at treestand; Jim departs
06:36 - Discovered that tree had no climbing steps
06:37 - Discovered that tree had long, sharp thorns
06:50 - Finally climbed into treestand through sheer desperation not be found sitting on the ground like an idiot.
06:55 - Loaded gun, tried to settle down.
07:03 - Legal hunting hours began.
07:05 - While basting in my own sweat, wondered if I hadn't put on too many layers.
07:10 - Started to debate trade-off between alarming deer with movement and not seeing deer due to fogged-over eyeglasses.
07:15, 07:30, 07:45 - Wiped off eyeglasses.
07:33 - Sunrise.
09:00 - After seeing nothing but a few birds, finally climbed down to mark a tree with my scent. :)
09:20 - Climbed back into the stand.
11:15 - Finally called it a day; didn't see any deer.
12:00-13:00 - Saw four road-killed deer on the way home.
The weather was clear, cold, and still. The stand was situated about 9 feet up a tree in an area of thick brush and small trees about 30 yards from a small creek.
I realize that I wasn't nearly as patient and stealthy as I should have been. That was partly due to the fact that I hadn't been able to scout the area and wasn't sure that I was facing the right direction, so I moved around some to see if any deer were passing behind me.
December 1, 1999, 03:43 PM
The key to a treestand hunt is no movement. If you can see the ground from the treestand, it is time to hunt and the animals are already moving. Also, without scouting, sitting in a treestand is a all day ordeal. One just never knows when these animals are coming. When I scout an area, there are morning places and afternoon places. My limit for sitting in a stand is about seven hours, so I usually sit AM or PM and rarely both. A hunt is from 5:00 to about noon or noon til nightfall.
December 1, 1999, 05:23 PM
I'm blessed to hunt in the Texas Hill Country, where there are tons of deer. One thing I've learned (the hard way :()is that just because you've got your stand set right in relation to the wind, made your approach as carefully an quietly as possible (always watching the wind, always!)and you've got a nice buck coming your way through the mesquite, upwind of you, and have done everything else as nearly perfect as possible, doesn't guarantee a thing. Invaribly, a little doe is going to slip up behind, or maybe just wander a little too close to you, and She'll spook, along with every other deer for 1/2 a mile (AAAAARGGGHH!!!!, Damn I LOVE THIS SPORT!).
This was with no cover scent.
Now I use liberal amounts of the spray-on scent eliminator/Fresh Earth cover scent (from Wal-Mart, Academy, etc.), and a good dose of Coon or Red Fox urine. Then as I go out in the field, I try not to miss anything stinky to step in (cow patties, etc), as well as anything else natural that helps cover my scent. I'll use leaves, cactus (watch the thorns), soil, or whatever else is around. My goal here is to get as much "normal" scents for deer going as I can.
Since doing this, I've had deer come within 5-10 yards of me without spooking. I had 2 does last weekend come about 7 yards from me (I was standing, stone still, next to a little oak tree). When they got down wind, It was obvious they got the smell of something they weren't too sure of, and they eventually wandered off. BUT, they didn't spook, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, they didn't spook the nice buck I was watching (who I BEAT by getting within 10 yards of, but was just a tad too small for my last buck tag, with a month left in the season. He's still walking, and doing a fair amount of work passing on those genes ;)
December 1, 1999, 05:42 PM
Ooops, now how did that happen?
[This message has been edited by LoneStar (edited December 02, 1999).]
December 3, 1999, 09:23 PM
'round here, diesel fuel makes a pretty good cover scent. The deer think nothing of it around field edges.
Also doesn't bother folks at the diner as much as all that coon pee.
December 4, 1999, 08:58 PM
There are some interesting stories about scent and as many "recipes" as there are deer in wild.
When a deer scents a human, as alert as they are, you can watch them start twitching. If they are grazing they'll generally work their way away from the scent. They seem to raise their head more frequently and bolt at the slightest movement or sound.
I try to shower with the no fragrant soaps and always leave everything im going to wear hanging on a nail outside for a week or so before I hunt.
The fellow I hunt with swears off all meat about 3 months before hunting begins as well as dairy products. He goes on an almost vegtable and water diet. The other side of that coin is if its cold out he cant sit long . No body fat at all! So sweat either. He wears a single underlayer and carries his termal cover-all in his pack, gets in his stand puts on his thermals, shi-mask,cap, gloves sraps himself in and goes to sleep untill about 9, shoots his deer before 10, and is on his way out.
I dont think a deers senses are one more sensitive than another. You can smell like an acorn but if you clear you throat your made. Sneeze, he's outa there. motion is sound and ive snaped match sticks just to watch how they react. Bong Bong Bong.
Ive had deer walk up on me on a trail while I was watching squirrels my bow laying ten feet from me, caught him out of the corner of my eye and pretended not to see him. Mosey'd over to my bow as he stood there and watched me. Picked up my bow, nocked an arrow, drew back while I was still bent over, turned gently never looking him in the eye and he stood there as i continued to look away from him. When I turned my head to shoot he stepped into some mild cover, still visible and only 8-9 yrd away but no shot. He turned to come back accross the trail and at that moment I noticed a huge rack about 20 yrd to my left, I looked back to see the little one leap from one side of the trail to the other into heavy cover looked back where the big guy was , no where to be seen and the little just wagged his tail and vanished.
Hell they didnt care what I smelled like but if I had stayed up in the tree a little longer..........ahhhhhhh
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