Let’s face it, you stink, but there’s something you can do about it!
Success and failure in the world of whitetail hunting many times come
down to ninja like stealth. Those that are consistently successful on the most wary game animal have learned to pay attention to details that make all the difference. In my last blog I talked about how being silent is one of these big keys to success. You can read it HERE if you haven’t, as it is an extremely important aspect of stealth that cannot be overlooked. So is being scent free. I’m not just talking mostly, but completely scent free. Tests show that whitetails can smell up to 1000 times better than humans, making any scent a possible hunt-buster. A scentless hunter therefore, is indeed a deadly hunter, but being scent free is not an easy task. Let’s just admit it, we people stink. However, with some methodical practices, huge gains can be made which in turn produce results. Below are some key practices of my no scent regimen I’ve developed that have yielded great results for me, and I believe will take your stealth, and hunting up a few notches as well.
When it comes to scent, I have a no tolerance attitude. I wash clothes every few hunts in scent free detergent, and dry them in a room closed off to outside scent (I don’t use scentlock or these type of garments as I’ve found I don’t need to, however I’m not discounting the effects of activated carbon, but I just buy regular hunting clothes - more on activated carbon later). Then, I put them directly into garbage bags and into a sealed tote. These are not put on until I get to my hunting spot, and are always removed and returned to this storage system before I leave and get into my truck. Being tedious about this, as well as all aspects of scent, are key. If you cut corners, the deer will let you know.
Also, I douse everything with ozone every few days (especially if I can’t wash them on a trip or for some other reason). I’ve found having scent free clothes, or clothes completely doused with ozone, negate the need for an ozone unit on stand. Deer regularly get downwind of me with little to no reaction when I do this. Also, I’ve found the ozone units used on stand are clunky and potentially noisy, making the risk bigger than the reward for me. Dousing clothes, and gear like gloves, backpacks, and headbands works just as well I’ve found. I do not get the ozone systems in hunting stores. To me they are too expensive and not as powerful as what I can easily get online. One has to be very careful and ozone their clothes/gear in a ventilated space, but I use an industrial ozone generator like this that does the job and then some (HERE). I simply throw the clothes/gear in a tote or big industrial garbage bag (usually in the garage) and let it soak for 5-10 minutes. That's it. I then put this immediately back into their respective garbage bag and tote (Note - if you have activated carbon clothes, do not ozone them. Choose which system you want to use - ozone, or activated carbon).
If I have to stop for gas, I will wear disposable latex gloves when handling the fuel nozzle and gas cap, then throw them away (by the way I also de-scent my truck with ozone from time to time). I keep these gloves in the truck, along with scent free wipes for my hands, face, and body. Before hitting the woods I wipe down hair and exposed skin with these no scent wet wipes. I will also do this on stand once I’ve walked in if I feel I have sweat or as an extra precaution. Simply take them in your backpack in a ziplock, and put them back into it when done (Walmart has some real cheap ones). Finally, every chance I can (when its above 40 degrees or so) I wear rubber hip boots. These keep scent off grasses and brush, an overlooked detail giving another advantage and keeping my approach undetected. This practice contains scent within the boots, and keeps much of my clothing from touching anything, both going in and coming out of my hunting location.
Now about activated carbon. Carbon is an interesting element since it only has 4 of 8 potential valence electrons. This makes it very bondable, which is
why 90% of all compounds are carbon based. Also, this makes them able to attract and absorb many particles. In fact charcoal (carbon) is used along with activated carbon in bio spills and environmental hazard sites to absorb dangerous organic chemicals. Activated carbon is just regular charcoal that has been heat treated to gain extra pore and absorption space for grabbing organic molecules - like scent molecules. These tend to attract and “suck up” odors, which is the basis for scentlok and similar garments. I do use some activated carbon, but in a different way. It can be bought online, and in pet stores as it is used in fish tank filters. I take this activated carbon, and put it in pantyhose bought at a department store for mere pennies. These scent ‘vacuums’ can then be put in storage totes to suck up any extra odors, or my favorite - boots. When boots start getting stinky, putting one of these inside and giving it a shake immediately removes all odors. Just be careful of the dust, which is the same dust that causes black lung in coal miners. Again, ventilation is important.
With this regimen I regularly get deer downwind, or crossing my backtrail, that do not scent me. When I make a mistake, however, they let me know. So paying attention to these details gives an added advantage that leads to shots instead of busted hunts. I’m sure I’ll continue to make progress on my system, but the basic idea is being super anal about any scent that could accumulate on your body or gear, and having a system to eliminate it. Speaking of, well known hunter and no-scent advocate John Eberhart has quite a regimen that even exceeds mine. If you have a minute, you can check it out HERE. I firmly believe that if If you stick to a no scent regimen like these, and stay consistent, you’ll see results!
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