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Author: Chuck Adams
Big game animals are susceptible to modern scent-management strategies. Scent control is a genuine science today, allowing hunters to fool a critter’s keenest survival sense.
For the majority of animals we hunt, be it deer, elk, bears, or even antelope, human scent plays a major portion in our success/failure. However, with modern scent-management strategies hunters have more advantages than ever. Scent control is a genuine science today, allowing bowhunters to fool a critter’s keenest survival sense.
I have said it many times before - and I will say it again. I do not believe a hunter can cover his human scent 100-percent. If the wind blows directly from you to a whitetail, mulie, elk or moose, the sharp-nosed animal will smell something suspicious. This is especially true if you are hunting on foot, perspiring and giving off more than average amounts of human body odor. However, in most cases, your scent can be managed around a tree stand or ground blind to allow effective bowhunting.
In my experience, four types of scent products are practical for archers. Cover scents like red fox urine, acorn and natural earth are meant to mask your human odor. Sex lures like doe-in-estrus urine and rutting buck urine are collected to draw in rutting game. Scent eliminators like Scent Shield spray, my own Super Slam spray, and various unscented soaps and clothes washes can chemically cancel human scent molecules. Finally, Scent-Blocking-type clothing incorporates activated carbon to soak up human body odor like a sponge.
Least effective of these four, in my opinion, are traditional cover scents. A little red fox or coon urine applied to your bootsoles or a pin-on scent pad can certainly help to mask the foot trail to and from your stand. These will mix with your airborne human scent, too, possibly confusing game. But the following three types of products have served me especially well on deer.
Sex lures draw rutting animals like flies to honey. Placed on scent wicks around your stand, dripped in active scrapes, distributed with scent drags radiating from your tree, applied directly to deer decoys, or misted from a spray bottle periodically, such powerful lures clearly turn a rutting male’s head.
I have tested many sex lures over the years. Those from reputable companies work well. If rutting doe urine is fresh for example, and extracted from a single animal, it can draw bucks as surely as a real estrous female. One key is masking and controlling your own human scent so it does not get to animals as well.
While there are many great scents on the market, some keys to look for is purity, potency and sealed in glass bottles to stay that way.
Those of you who enjoy hunting elk should know that bull and cow rutting urine lures are available from many manufactures. Used around elk-wallow complexes, these scents draw large bulls from hundreds of yards away and they often come in on the run!
I am a fanatic about scent elimination to and from my tree stand. I wear all-rubber or half-rubber pac boots to block human scent from the ground, the same as savvy fur trappers have done for decades. I thoroughly spray my lower body with Scent Shield or Super Slam Clothes & Boot Spray to prevent human scent from becoming a gas. No scent gas, no airborne ordor to settle on nearby shrubbery.
Finally, I choose a path to and from my stand through the thinnest, shortest foliage in the area. The less grass and brush you contact, the lower the chance of human scent lingering behind.
These precautions are equally important after dark as you walk from stand back to vehicle. If you do not wear rubber boots, spray down, and avoid heavy cover during your exit, deer will smell your foot trail most of the night. The big buck you’ll never see is too smart to stay near such carelessly scent-laden areas.
Perhaps the most exciting scientific scent innovation in recent years is the development of effective scent-blocking clothes. These garments incorporate activated carbon fibers to absorb human scent before it can exit the fabric.
Original Scent-Lok, Scent-Blocker and other makers’ clothes are selling like hotcakes because they really work. Such duds are now available in lighter, thinner fabrics than ever before, and feature popular camo patterns. Typically popular fabrics are the ScentBlocker 3D Leafylite and ScentBlocker Ultralite, both from Robinson Labs. My own Super Slam Scent-Blocker Suit from Cabela’s is also extremely popular with bowhunters.
Such a garment, when worn from head to toe can reduce the outflow of human scent molecules dramatically. I’ve tested scent-blocking garments around hundreds of deer, and these genuinely make a difference.
Whitetails in urban, suburban, and farmland areas are accustomed to smelling low-level human odor all the time. The deer that walks downwind from your ScentBlocker Suit probably can’t tell for sure if someone walked past hours ago, if human scent is wafting from a distant house or car, or if a scent-blocked hunter is hovering nearby like a hawk after a meadow mouse. Regardless of what deer think, they seem less concerned about archers wearing high-tech carbon suits.
Modern scent strategies alone cannot make up for poor bowhunting habits. But when you combine scent management with good camouflage, deep knowledge of animal habits, and straight shooting, you will probably bring home the venison!