scent control tips for deer hunting

Photo Credit:  Britton Bradley

11 Steps to Improve Your Deer Hunting Success with Proper Scent Control

Scent control is one of the most controversial topics in the hunting industry.  For years, hunters have heard the phrase “99.9% effective” or “traps human odor” but did it really work?  We’ve seen scent control products come and go for years and many hunters have given up on the idea of fooling a deer’s senses and trying to hunt the wind, which is much more difficult than implementing a solid scent control regimen.  Whether you’re hunting public land or private land, mature whitetail bucks aren’t easy to fool.

Luckily for us, science has finally caught up with the aggressive marketing strategies that hunters have been hearing about for years now, and I’ve refined the most effective way to reduce foreign odors before entering the whitetail woods.  The goal is to be as scent-free as possible, not to cover up your scent and smell like “fresh earth” or vanilla.  Utilizing cover scent without scent control is like wiping before you poop, it just doesn’t make sense!

Can you eliminate all human odor?  Of course not, but you can reduce it and increase your likelihood of fooling a deer’s nose, and this how!  The following information will describe in detail every step that I take to reduce the likelihood that a deer will smell me while in the stand.  Of course, a whitetail deer has a great sense of smell, but don’t let that stop you from doing everything in your power to fool a deer’s nose.

Step 1:  Think outside the box!

The first step begins in the home and may not be possible for everyone.  I’m dedicated to my finely tuned scent control regimen 365 days a year and it’s an essential step that allows me to reduce unwanted odors in my home all year long.

Step one starts with what you put into your washing machine throughout the year. I use a fragrance-free laundry detergent all year long!  Hunting clothes, work clothes, bed linens, towels, everything is scent-free!  There’s no need for fancy fragrances in the clothing, towels, or bedding of a dedicated whitetail deer hunter.

If this strategy won’t work for you and your household, consider picking up a used washer and dryer for the garage that you can utilize specifically for your hunting gear.  If that won’t work, try switching products in the washer and dryer at least one month before hunting season begins.

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Step 2: Storage

Let’s go ahead and get this part out of the way. You have to have a scent-proof container to store your gear in all year long. You’ll need larger containers like plastic totes for year around storage and smaller, scent-free totes or bags to use when traveling to and from your hunting location.

It’s very important to de-scent these storage containers prior to storing your gear.  You can also splurge on a great-looking Scent Crusher Closet if you have the room in your man cave!

Step 3:  Prep Your Washer and Dryer

If you followed Step 1, then you’re way ahead of the game and this step may not be necessary.

The first scent-free wash of the day takes a little bit of prep work, especially if you haven’t been using scent-free detergent in your washer.  In this case, run a couple of loads of casual clothes or towels through the washer and dryer before washing your hunting clothing.

Before washing your hunting clothes, spray the inside of the washer and dryer with Elimishield Field Spray and let it dry before beginning your first load of laundry.  Next, utilize one of these proven portable ozone generators, from brands like Ozonics, Pith Gear, or ScentLok in the washer and dryer for approximately 20 or 30 minutes before starting your first load of hunting clothing.  This should eliminate any unwanted odors in your washer and dryer, making it safe for you to start washing your hunting gear!

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Step 4:  Washing your clothing

Always wash and dry your clothes with scent-free laundry detergent, such as Elimishield Laundry Detergent.  A little goes a long way but you’re going to want to have several bottles to last you throughout the season.

I wash everything before hunting season begins and only wash what I have to once hunting season heats up. However, I always wash my clothes after every kill and anytime I get really sweaty.

Quick Tip:  One of the biggest things that hunters forget to wash with scent-free detergent is their towels. I have a dedicated set of towels for hunting and this is the only time they’re used. I also bring them on out-of-state hunts too. Finally, don’t forget to wash your backpack, saddle, and safety harness. You may have to wash some items by hand.

Step 5:  Spray before drying

When you take your hunting clothing out of the washer, don’t throw them in the dryer immediately.  First, saturate each item with Elimishield Field Spray before placing it in the dryer.  You will utilize a lot of spray, so be sure to stock up prior to starting this process.  Typically, I use approximately two bottles of field spray for every three loads of laundry.  This is an important step that you’re not going to want to skip.

Quick Tip:  Elimishield Field Spray works best if it’s allowed to dry on the item before utilizing it in the field.  It’s not designed to be utilized on the walk into your stand.

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Step 6:  The First Ozone Wash

As soon as my hunting clothes come out of the dryer, they go directly into my Ozonics Drywash Bag until the next load of laundry is finished.  Usually 45 minutes but be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the ozone generator that you use and the hunting gear that you’re eliminating odors on.

Step 7:  Storage revisited

Whatever you chose to store your hunting gear in from Step 2, place your freshly washed, dried, and ozone dry washed gear into it.  Make sure the storage container is scent-free though.  You can spray it down with Elimishied Field Spray prior to storing your gear and run your ozone generator in it.  The storage container should be dry and air-tight.

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Step 8:  The day of the hunt

Before taking a scent-free shower, with scent-free soap, such as Elimishield Hunt Hair and Body Wash, throw your gear into a Scent Crusher Closet or Ozonics Dry Wash Bag.  While you’re in the shower, getting scent-free, so are your clothes and gear.   Be sure to include your clothes, backpack, boots, harness, and anything else that’ll fit in there.

Don’t screw this up!  Use a scent-free towel to dry off!!!  After your shower, apply Elimishield Core Body Foam from head-to-toe and let it dry!  You can even use it as a deodorant, just be sure to let it dry before putting on a shirt.  If used effectively, this product will effectively reduce the bacteria that your body creates, reducing unwanted body odor in the process!

After showering, throw on some scent-free clothing (not hunting clothes that you intend to hunt in) wear as you travel to your hunting destination in your truck.  Do not wear your hunting clothes in the truck although you should take just as much precaution with the scent in your truck as you do anywhere else. Lastly, be sure to transport your hunting gear in a scent-free container until you get to your destination.

 Step 9:  Controlling scent in the treestand or ground blind

While in the treestand or blind, I utilize a portable ozone generator, such as the Ozonics HR-300, to help reduce any odors that I may produce while in the stand.  (Notice that I said reduce, not destroy!). Be sure to pay attention to the wind direction throughout the hunt and adjust the ozone generator accordingly.  You will also want to carry an extra battery for long sits.

Keep in mind that a lot of the odor that we produce in the field comes from our mouth, so stay away from stinky foods like garlic, coffee, and fast food prior to the hunt!  Don’t forget about changing thermals.  Be sure to read our blog How Thermals Influence Hunting Success for Both Deer and Elk to ensure you’re prepared for changing conditions and wind directions.

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Step 10:  After the hunt

Don’t drive home in your hunting clothes!  Gas stations, fast-food restaurants, and your vehicle will be detrimental to your scent-control regimen.  Take the time to change into the scent-free clothes you wore on the way, including your boots.  Don’t forget to remove those base layers too.

Step 11:  Eat, Sleep, Repeat

If you got really sweaty or saturated in blood after a successful hunt, then you’re going to want to re-wash your hunting gear and start all over!  Remember, effective scent control takes time and dedication.

If you didn’t contaminate your hunting clothing too much, then simply spray them down with Elimishield Hunt Field Spray and let them dry before treating it with ozone and placing it in storage.

If you plan on hunting again soon and don’t have time to let them dry, be sure to give them a good ozone bath and get ready for your next hunting adventure!

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If you can follow the 11 steps listed above, you’re going to increase your success in the field.  This step-by-step guide won’t guarantee that you’ll kill a mature buck this fall, but it can improve the quality of your hunt.  Not getting winded during a hunt during close encounters with big game animals should always be considered a win!   Completely eliminating human scent may not be possible but we can certainly reduce it if we take the time and effort to do so.

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