Scent Stumblers

Sponsored by: ATSKO

By: Wade Nolan Bowhunting biologist

If you’re fortunate, a remote out of state bowhunt could be in on your calendar this fall. It may be a whitetail hunt in Texas or an elk hunt in Montana. Regardless you can’t be stumbling on scent suppression issues. It could put a hex on your bowhunting success.

A sound strategy involves beginning with clean clothes that you wear sequentially during your hunt. Three sets of camo could last you a full week… if you’re careful. My plan is to wash all camo and outerwear in ATSKO Sport-Wash and then store sets in a giant Ziploc plastic bag, which I store in a plastic tote. I like to wear them only two days because skin cells laced with human specific bacteria get loaded into the fabric after two hard days hunting.


This cull buck fell to outdoor writer Bob Humphrey’s arrow because he employed scent suppression.

I also rely on a topical treatment of NO-Odor Spray which is actually an oxidizer combined with an anti-bacteria component. Don’t be afraid to spray down your boots, pack and gloves as well as your clothing. One of a whitetails favorite tricks is to smell the standing wands of weeds and stems that hang at nose level to a deer. These “scent wands” are the part of the landscape that is often in touch with our bare hands as we walk down a trail. Relying on treated gloves is the way to avoid this stumbling block.

Remote drop off hunts can provide a challenge of your not prepared to keep clean and scent free.

Do you always need knee-high rubber boots? The answer is no. Any boot that you keep clean can work. Out west, I use leather boots, specifically Danner Pronghorns. They are 8 inches high and Gortex lined. The one benefit that rubber boots may offer is that you can put your pant cuffs into the top of the boot. This reduces scent dispersal. I dust the interior of my boots with NO-Odor II Powder. It is made with 25% Absents Crystals that absorb odor like a vacuum. One tablespoon full has the surface area of a football field. That will hold a lot of odor.

I carry Sport-Wash hair and Body soap with me in a squeeze tube and often take a solar bath with one of those black plastic solar bags that you fill with water then hang in the sun. It never gets hot but is usually warmer than a mountain stream. It only takes about 2-gallon to take a rapid shower during midday. Get wet, soap up and scrub then rinse. Finish off with a good spray down with the No-Odor spray. One of these every 2-3 days will do wonders for your scent footprint.

Some remote hunts can be fancy if you have a camper with water available. Sometimes this is not the case and during those times don't forget to shower.

Bad breath is another stumbler on a remote hunt. We breathe 9-12 times a minute and if you are exhaling dog breath, you can bet that is sending a human fog down wind. We exhale about 3 quarts of air at a time. In an hour that’s 9 55-gallon drums of bad breath moving downwind. Flossing is a must followed by brushing with No-Odor spray. It tastes fine, I don’t swallow it.

I love campfires but remember to stow your hunting camo in a tote and change into camp clothes before getting smoked up.

We all love to eat and sit around a campfire, especially when we have a good cook along. Many hunters stumble here. Make sure you don’t stand in cook fire smoke in your hunting clothes. Smells like bacon, sausage or Beer-Butt Chicken will set you up to smell like a buffet line. Not that deer or elk are afraid of link sausage but you will be carrying an unusual smell with you, which alone is enough to alert a wary whitetail.

It is easy to stumble on scent suppression but staying alert can give you an edge. You can get the mentioned scent suppression products at : ATSKO