Best Scent Strategy
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Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 – 1:11:39 PM
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Best Scent Strategy

By P.J. Reilly

Jan 8, 2008 – 9:20:55 AM

People stink – including hunters. That’s a fact.

    If the wind is in their favor, deer can smell us, literally, from a half mile away. That’s why the most successful trophy buck hunters take such great pains to try to eliminate as much of their own odor as possible and then mask what they miss.

    I’ll never forget the opening day of Maryland’s 2005 archery deer season. Every year, that day is scheduled for Sept. 15. And at that time of year, the weather is downright miserable for hunting. It’s hot and humid – the two worst enemies to a deer hunter looking to control his scent.

    Many weeks before Sept. 15, I had hung a stand in a strip of woods that I knew was harboring a decent buck. The wind was in my favor when I climbed into my stand around 3 p.m., but it was 95 degrees and very humid. To say I was sweating would be an understatement. The fact was, I was leaking sweat from every pore in my body and I knew I stunk. If the wind shifted, my hunt was finished.

    The wind held true through the evening and the deer dutifully filed out of the bedding thicket down the hill from my stand, and walked past me at no more than 25 yards. I passed several average bucks in hopes the big boy would show.

    Ten minutes before quitting time, movement through the timber caught my attention. I picked up my binoculars and peered through the darkening woods. About 80 yards out, I spotted a beautiful 10-pointer heading my way.

    That’s when I noticed the wind had died. There didn’t seem to be any breeze whatsoever. When the buck was a good 60 yards out, I watched him stand in one position tip his head back and sniff the air. He sniffed and sniffed for a good two or three minutes. Then he turned around and walked back the way he had come. I never saw him again that season.

    Scent control starts at home. We all know about the importance of showering using non-scented soap and shampoo. And your clothing, whether it’s charcoal-lined or not, should be washed in a detergent with no perfumes in it and then separated from household odors by storing them in a scent-free plastic bag or tub. The best choice for scent free laundry soap is Sport-Wash . You can get it at Wal-Mart in their hunting section.

One of the most important parts of your hunt happens in the washing machine. Let your wife wash your street clothes in what ever she chooses but make sure she knows to use only Sport-Wash on your hunting clothes. Sport-Wash costs less than most leading perfumed and UV-brightener laced detergents and will remove all built-up residues from your clothes. You might want to convince her to switch to Sport-Wash.

    There’s a way to work on controlling your scent even before you shower and wash your clothes. Nullo is a dietary supplement that works as an internal deodorant. It’s been around for decades, selling primarily to help people with excessive problems with body odors.

Sound like something hunters might be interested in?

According to the Nullo Web site, the product’s primary ingredient – chlorophyllin   causes a change in metabolism of odor-producing bacteria. It neutralizes the odorous gas in bacterial cultures. Thus, the odors of bodily wastes, including exhaled breath and sweat, are dramatically reduced or eliminated. Generally, it takes Nullo anywhere from two to 14 days to neutralize a person’s bodily odors, so be sure to plan ahead.

Also, before you put on your camouflage clothing, start out with an XGO base layer. Manufactured by Longworth Industries, XGO pants and shirts are designed to wick away moisture and to fight bacteria. While charcoal-lined clothing is designed to absorb odor-causing bacteria, XGO contains an antimicrobial agent called “Scent Prevent,” that kills bacteria. Depending on the temperature you’re hunting in, XGO comes in a variety of thicknesses so you can stay cool and dry on hot days and warm and dry on cold days.

You can’t over do scent control. A whitetail can smell you once and your favorite stand can be compromised. Here is the solution from the inside out. Nullo is the internal body deodorant and XGO is the latest tech base layers with Scent Prevent anti-microbials. Use them both and you have a high tech solution to scent management.

Don’t put on your outer layers until you arrive at your hunting destination, to avoid contaminating those clothes with odors from your vehicle. And before you put them on, spray them and all the gear you’ll be carrying into the woods with a liberal dose of a scent eliminator, such as NO-ODOR Spray, which uses oxidation to control body odor.

Then, spray your boots with some sort of cover scent. Raccoon and fox urine are two popular cover scents. I like to spray my boots with doe urine that has no sex attractant in it. It’s just plain doe urine, and it’s something every deer in the woods has sniffed at one time or another.

Even though you’ve taken all these measure to kill and mask your scent, the last and most important thing you can do to keep a deer from smelling you is to play the wind. Always hunt downwind from where you expect to see deer. That might mean you can’t hunt your favorite stand as often as you’d like, but the sacrifice is worth its weight in antlers.

For more whitetail how-to go to


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