View Full Version : Scent control - Leather slings, belts etc.?

May 24, 2006, 10:39 AM
When not on grazing land with cattle, as strong as the smell of leather is to humans, I would think that eliminating leather slings, belts, holsters, sheaths, etc., could be beneficial when hunting deer, elk, hogs, etc, when the wind is ag'in ya. Anyone take such a drastic step? I love my leather slings, but I'll do almost anything to gain an advantage. Whaddya think goes through the game's mind when they smell it? Alert mode, or no?

May 24, 2006, 11:50 AM
If you are worried about the leather, how about your gun? I take scent precautions, but I still always play the wind.
I got real "retentive" about scent protection one year and eliminated leather, like you are talking about. Leather does act as a big scent pad but unless you wash your web gear frequently, it does the same thing. What about that velcro watchband, or your wallet?
I try to be scent careful but I wear a leather belt, sometimes. I don't care how scent crazy you go, if they're close and downwind, they'll still probably smell you. I've got a leather sling I like and use with one rifle, too. I've never found a nylon holster I like, so I use a leather holster for a handgun.
Play the wind and use your sling. If you are worried about it, get a SuperSling. It'll smell strong after awhile too, but you can always wash it.

My grandfather used to use a cigarette to "check the wind". He shot plenty of deer. I guess the deer are smarter, these days.

May 24, 2006, 01:10 PM
My grandfather used to use a cigarette to "check the wind". He shot plenty of deer. I guess the deer are smarter, these days.

Must depend on where you live. I've watched my father go through a whole pack of cigarettes while in his stand and still get deer. Wind plays a large part. Play the wind, Play to win.

May 24, 2006, 02:30 PM
"My grandfather used to use a cigarette to "check the wind". He shot plenty of deer. I guess the deer are smarter, these days." I always find this both funny and interesting. Deer are not any smarter these days. I do believe in reasonable scent control. Some have gone so far as to say that the tobacco odor actually attracts deer. Who knows? But tobacco does advertise "human in the woods" and probably not a great idea.

Example: You can be the best driver in the world until that fateful night that a drunk driver hits you head on or pulls into you from a side street. Luck.

The other consideration is that a big old 12 point is going to be much smarter than a 1.5 year old 4-6 pt buck. There is usually a reason why they get that big and avoid hunters. Scent definitely comes into play as does a very savy sense of danger. A lot seems to depend on luck too.

Leather will trap odors. I would suspect mostly oil from your rifle. The oil on your gun also has an odor. My belief is that it is very difficult to control your scent and there are so many other considerations before you think about your rifle. How often do you wash your hunting clothes? Do you wear them to the field? Do you smoke while on your way to the field in your car? How badly do you perspire? Do you clean your boots? Shampoo or soap smells from bathing? Chewing gun?

May 27, 2006, 10:59 AM
have had leather slings and belts, knife sheaths for years while deer, antelope hunting and never had a problem as long as I paid attention to the wind direction. Last few years it didn't really matter, because shots were at the 250 - 400 range wide open with little wind.

May 31, 2006, 11:11 PM
I like my pipe on a crisp Autumn day...ie. usually a nice sweet Virginia tobacco or a musty Balkan blend... It might be wrong...but I can't tell if it hurts or helps. Deer are very curious animals ie. sounds actually attract quite a few ie. I was doing some minor carpentry work awhile back and lo and bold a curious young buck paid a visit and watched in the woods from about 50yards away... A friend last year was walking down a little dirt road...when suddenly a big buck jumped out onto the road just a few yards ahead...stopped...and then took off... My friend said he was shocked and couldn't figure out what made the ol'buck do what he did... Then my friend said he felt in his pocket and realized he had a bottle of buck lure(doe scent)
in his pocket... My friend was also smoking a Marlboro as he was walking along the road... Hmmm...maybe that ol'buck was a smoker? :cool:

June 1, 2006, 10:11 AM
Rocks don't roll uphill, and leaves can't float upstream... same with scents and wind.

June 1, 2006, 11:20 AM
gee that helps a lot, since I'm talking specifically about when the wind is swirling etc (as I said, when the wind is "ag'in you" - see original question).

June 1, 2006, 01:53 PM
yea you have to do everything if you're serious. i played around with it last season, was more industrious at the start of the season because i didn't want to have to play the wind as much since i only had a couple stands up. when i was seeing what i could do, i would wash all my clothes for the next day in scent-proof detergent, dry it odorless, wash with the scent-off bathing gel, spray all my gear with a scent eliminator... put the top layer on outside, and then hit it all with one final layer of scent eliminator. and it worked. i had deer walk right under my stand, one stopped long enough to relieve itself right there. would've been great if i was knife hunting. at times they seemed to see me (blaze orange vest kind of ruins it) and they'd stand, sometimes walking closer, looking confused. so yea, it works if you do it all wholeheartedly, but it's really not necessary, only kind of fun for experimentation and to see how close you can get. people were bowhunting without any kind of scent reduction technology (and not even camo) many moons ago, successfully.

June 2, 2006, 08:16 AM
Slings, sweet pipe tobacco, gun oil, wood stoves vehicles etc. I really don't think that animals associate with imediate danger, curiosity yes, and may in fact cautiously check these odours out. I do feel that urine, body odour, passing wind, actual human odours do play a significant role, and animals will avoid these scents.

June 2, 2006, 10:07 AM
Mature animals that have been in the woods for a while ASSOCIATE odors with danger.
The older the animal, the more experienced he is with traveling humans and hunters. Wise old bucks associate human odors with danger. You can introduce a new odor and he may not associate danger to it but will probably be wary of it.
Leather odor and the scent it traps are probably common among hunters, just like body odor and marlboro residue. If you wear your boots to fill the old gas tank on the way, that is a common odor to deer and will be associated to danger.
If you are in an area that has frequent human traffic, I would say that if a buck lives to be a ripe old age, he associates leather smells with humans. Otherwise he wouldn't be old.
Your grandfather that checked the wind with a cigarrette was probably doing exactly that, checking the wind. If he was hunting upwind, the cig didn't matter.
The question at hand was leather and weather or not to switch to another type of strap/sling.
The leather will also hold the scent killer you spray on it. 6 bucks a bottle at Wal Mart. Fresh earth smelling gun oil is available if you wanna pay for it.
If you are down to nit picking your rifle sling, you are so far ahead of the vast majority of hunters in scent control. Good for you! Spray the sling or go with nylon and spray it too.
I bow hunt every fall and I have deer walking under my tree frequently. I take the pains to be as scent free as possible and I carry a leather sling on both my muzzle loader and my rifle. I also spray everything with scent killer as I am leaving the truck.
Breath control is my latest concern. I swirl vanilla extract in my mouth while I am hunting. It aint perfect but it aint human.

June 2, 2006, 10:51 AM
Thank you, DF, that is the kind of info I needed. I think I will use nylon slings and pant belts on hunting excursions, sprayed with fresh earth - like you say, that leather can trap all kinds of smells. Particularly during archery hunting, it would suck if I scent-controlled everything (bow, clothing, boots, body, breath, etc.) yet my leather belt was giving me away making it all for naught. Also, for breath control, I will sometimes just eat an apple slowly to continually cleanse the mouth. Also, in the hills, the wind swirls a lot as it bounces off and around hills, so every bit of scent control helps, IMO, even if the wind seems mostly for you. And even if the wind is for you while you're walking *that way*, it's gonna be against you when you're walking back to camp.

Wild Bill Bucks
June 2, 2006, 11:56 AM
Just throwing this in.

I have always wondered, with 100,000 hunters in the woods,just where do you go to keep deer from picking up the human scent?
At our lease, we have 10 hunters scattered around with approximately 300 to 500 yards between us. I do everything I can to eliminate as much scent as possible, but with that many hunters around me, am I just fooling myself, if everyone else isn't doing the same thing?:confused:

June 2, 2006, 08:00 PM
I might get flamed for this smart remark...BUT have you ever seen a lion, wolf, bobcat, leopard, bear...in a sporting goods store trying to purchase some spray to mask their own scent ? Think about it, if an ol' stinky bear or wolf can be a successful predator without eliminating their own odor - a human being with a scoped rifle... ought to be able to do it too...:eek:

June 3, 2006, 04:36 AM
If you are using a scoped rifle and you get lucky, your scent may not matter.
If you used the dark of night to sneak up on prey you could smell from 500 yards, and walked stealth on your padded feet within run-down range, your night vision may get you a meal. You would still be batting less than .500 like the predators you mentioned. You may have better luck if you hunt in packs and get them confused by smelling you coming in from all sides. Hmmm, sounds like a pack of wolves or pride of lions.
If you were a bear, you could run 30 mph and kill the crap out of those blue berries that didn't smell you coming. If you were a bobcat, you could sneak up on those nested birds that have absolutely nothing to do with scent control, or a preoccupied racoon.(racoon= known for intelligent action)
If you are not one of the above, and you want to eliminate odor to enhance your chances of a successful hunt, make the effort.
Human beings with a scoped rifle have been successful in the past. Some more than others. The most successful ones take precautions for the wind and scent.
I hunt in places that many other hunters travel and hunt. I exercise scent control to the best of my ability. I am also very still. Bucks have been known to lay still and watch people walk within 20 feet of them, rather than give up their location. If someone stinks 200 yards from you, you may see the deer skirting the stinky one and walk right under you.
This is just my opinion and my experience. I hear hunters say how stupid whitetail deer are. I just don't believe the mature buck I want to hang on my wall this fall is stupid. Maybe he is and a marlboro smoking, white tee shirt wearing, body odor having, work boot wearing, gas station attendant will sneak up on him and kill him instead of me. I pick my own odds.

Jack O'Conner
June 3, 2006, 09:45 AM
I find no flaws in the comments made by Dobermans. Truthfully, hunting gear is big business and growing each year. But gear and success are not necessarily related. Many of us have great success with rather plain gear and old fashioned hunting skills.

June 3, 2006, 06:34 PM
and do you bowhunt Jack? Desertfox is exactly correct. We're talking about archery hunting here (mostly). Success rates of natural predators on large game is something on the order of 10%. If I only got a deer one out of every ten times in the woods bowhunting, I would not hunt anymore.

June 3, 2006, 07:10 PM
Breath control is my latest concern. I swirl vanilla extract in my mouth while I am hunting. It aint perfect but it aint human.

Eating an apple or two seems to work, also. Then smear your boots with the core. Humans definitely have carnivore breath.

I didn't mean to imply with my earlier comment about my grandfather and cigarettes that he went around smoking all the time in the woods. He was just checking the wind ( so he said :D )

This cover scent you are using, how many millions of bottles do you think have been sold? Don't you think deer might learn to associate common cover scents with man? I use this stuff, too, btw.

Like I said, I take scent precautions, probably more than 90% of hunters do. Like I also said
I don't care how scent crazy you go, if they're close and downwind, they'll still probably smell you.

Like most here, I take more care when bow hunting. I've wondered about the effectiveness of the carbon suits, even though I think they'd be too hot during bow season here. I also hunt with a revolver frequently. This is just as close range as bowhunting, usually.

I'm not going to let it keep me from using a favorite sling or holster, though.

June 3, 2006, 07:30 PM
I think that far and away that your sweat (the ammonia in it) is what will cause them to immediately bolt, of course. Cover scents won't work when the ammonia ratio is too high relative to the cover scent in the air - the deer can distinguish one from another even when both are present. But if you're sweat is mostly controlled, then cover scents may or may not be useful. But this thread is really not about cover scents; it's about whether game associates man-processed leather products with danger, either instintively or learned. They probably do - the older smart bucks especially (learned).

June 4, 2006, 02:15 PM
Scent...is relatively minor...so long as you reasonably stay downwind...
I would say sound and movement are more important than 'scent'.
The effort to 'eliminate' one's scent - is a bit vain ie. your body is constantly
manufacturing 'scent'. I would rather swim through the ocean quietly and bleeding...than to thrash about in the ocean not bleeding... I would rather
be stinking and silent in the woods...as I hunted a deer... rather than odorless and moving about... :cool: Deer have poor depth perception, but they are highly sensative to 'movement' and 'sound'. During rut...the deer are highly tuned to the scent of each other...BUT remember this is also the time of year when the native of yore discovered that they could get close enough to a deer...to kill the deer with a throwing spear...because the deer were so distracted by the smell of 'rut'. Deer are also very curious. What makes one deer run - just might attract another deer. I won't go so far as to say they are unpredictable - but I would say it is like with us in the sense that it gets complicated as to what particular sound scares us...and what sound just makes us curious... The same sort of complication applies to 'scent'. There are bears and lions and bobcats and humans and snakes all over the place...and just the scent of any of these critters...is not going to make a deer panic and run away... I actually tend to think my pipe tobacco might be an attractant... For example, my Virginia blend...is a complex sweet natural fragence... My English flake...is a 200yr.old recipe that has a steamy vanilla fragrence comingled with the sweet complexity of the Virginia
tobacco...and my Balkan mix...has a musty dirty sox mildewy scent wrapped in sweet virginia... These scents are 'natural' and 'complex' - and to some degree mask the human scent. Their complexity probably cause just a little curiosity... The nice thing about pipe smoke...is that it tells you also which direction the wind is blowing... These vegetal odors and fragrences ironically remind me of the fragrences of certain products sold to 'mask' human scent... It's not been problem ie. I've eaten my share of venison...and never once have I felt that by getting rid of my leather straps or by scrubbing myself a bit more...would there be that much more venison for the table.
I would say pronghorn are more sensative...BUT think about it. Pronghorn have less 'cover' so over the openess of the plain they read the wind like a newspaper... Staying downwind is important. Nevertheless, a scoped rifle ought to erase their advantage. In regard to pronghorn and archery - I think the desire to go to the waterhole can override the pronghorn's nose. Incidentally, the Sabre tooth cat(which was like a giant bobcat)likely went extinct because the climate changed,destroyed the more lush forested habitat and as the giant stags and mammoth disappeared...the old Sabre tooth wasn't fast enough to chase pronghorns and bison...and couldn't compete with wolves,bears, and cougars and bobcats..for the caribou moose,deer and elk... If the Sabre tooth cat had learned how to make arrows and use a bow - he might have overcome the problem and survived! :cool:

June 4, 2006, 07:38 PM
That is the good thing about this forum and this country. People can disagree and still exist in the same environment.
While I don't agree with everything everyone says, I am glad we have this great number of hunters willing to share information with eachother.
It is good to know there are alot of us out there that are as passionate about our sport as we are about life.
Whatever you do this fall, go hunting and take a kid with you. Pass along this passion to the next generation. If everyone hunted the same, we would have one rifle, one bow, one muzzleloader, and one camo. Everyone would be sitting in the same spot waiting for the same shot.

June 5, 2006, 01:56 AM
My friend was also smoking a Marlboro as he was walking along the road... Hmmm...maybe that ol'buck was a smoker?

Knew a guy once that had a crow that was addicted to cigs. Strange, but true.

Also, I am a bowhunter as well and as long as I stay down wind of deer I have been successfull in stalking up to within bow range. And I don't use any of that noscent wash soap for clothes, etc... . Have been still hunting on the and had deer come within feet of my spot. Bagged a buck a few years ago from about 5 yards as he was walking away from me after passing me. He and the doe accompanying him only sniffed the air once each as they caught my scent when they passed my location. I guess deer must like old spice deodrant and aftershave.:p

June 5, 2006, 07:55 AM
I had a similar experience with different results. I was still hunting and had paused by a blowdown that was beside a little creek. A doe and 2 fawns came out of some new growth pines that were across the creek. They started browsing in the hardwoods that were directly in front of me. After about 15 minutes the doe spotted me. She came up to the edge of the creek and started stomping her foot and bobbing her head, trying to get me to move. She was quickly joined by both her fawns and all three of them stood in line, stomping and bobbing. After a few minutes of this they seemed to decide I was just a funny looking stump or something. At this time they were no more than 10 feet away. They went back to browsing but the doe was still suspicious and started feeding downwind, downstream. After she got about 100 feet downstream from me she caught wind, her flag went up and they were out of there.
At this time I was really being "retentive" about scent control. No leather, nonscent detergent, cover scent, rubber boots, everything recommended by the Saturday morning gurus. At ten feet, with the deer upwind, I was a funny looking tree. At 100 feet, downwind, I was threat.
I still practice scent control because it can't hurt and every little bit helps. I still think that playing the wind is your best bet. I wear rubber boots hunting because I hunt in the swamp, mostly. If I'm hunting mature timber or ever get the chance to hunt some of those big midwestern cornfield bucks, I doubt I'll be stumbling around in big rubber boots.
Location, hunting pressure, the use of treestands all have an effect on how nervous human scent makes deer. When I used to hunt from trees all the time I watched deer spook when they crossed the path I used getting to the tree. I also watched a couple of them follow my trail directly to the tree, one of them even licking the screw-in step I'd used to climb up. Go figure.
Play the wind.