THE MYTHS OF SCENT KILLERS – I remember my first archery hunt like it was yesterday. Sadly, it was over 10 years ago. I chose to do this hunt alone, as I wasn’t sure what to expect when being that close to animals. It was the archery deer hunt in Southern Utah, which runs from the middle of August to the middle of September.
August in Southern Utah is usually extremely hot, and it was that year. The first few days of the hunt were uneventful. There were no close encounters to get my excitement going. On the fifth day of the hunt, I had my first encounter with a beautiful mule deer buck. The buck had a few smaller bucks with him that day, and I watched all of them feed down the hill towards a meadow. I knew if I could get down to that meadow before they did, I would have the perfect shot. Due to them feeding, I was able to beat them there, and I set up where I felt I would have a good chance at getting a shot.
The time ticked by slowly, but after about fifteen minutes, I saw the deer moving through the trees. A couple of the smaller bucks appeared first into the meadow, and then the bigger buck I wanted to shoot made his appearance. However, he stayed about 15 yards back in the trees. Just as he was about to move towards the meadow, I felt the wind hit the back of my neck. The bush that I was hiding behind also began to move in the wind. In a matter of seconds, those bucks had me pinned, and they disappeared as fast as that wind had come upon my neck.
Bowhunting is hard, but predicting the weather is even harder. With the wind changing directions that day, those deer smelled me in an instant. At that time, I began to wonder, does scent control really work. I had done all the right things. I had washed my clothes in the “special” soap, I had done the same in the shower that morning, and I had sprayed myself down with a popular scent killer. It still didn’t work. It made me start to think, is the whole scent control just a myth? Does it really matter what we use? And, what are the smells that actually scare wild animals?
I had the opportunity to discuss this question with several of my friends and associates, some of which are fantastic hunters. The results I got from these discussions were that everyone has their own opinions. A good friend of mine and someone who has killed the biggest deer I’ve ever seen had this to say about scent control products.
I used to think they worked great. In fact, I spent a lot of money on these products because I wanted every edge I could get. Then I realized that I trusted them too much. I trusted them so much that they ended up burning me on several nice deer. At that point, I quit buying these products and went back to the ways it was done in the old days. I used the wind to my advantage. Yes, there have been hunts since that time where a deer has winded me, but I think he would’ve done that even if I were using scent control. My recommendation is to use good hygiene, and use the wind to your advantage. You’ll save money and you’ll still be successful.
Since the hunt that I described in the introduction, I’ve also limited my use of the scent control products I use. Using the wind appropriately has worked for me. I’ve also saved a lot of money by not buying those products.
Does it matter what kind?
There are some really cool products on the market today to control your stink. One that has interested me a lot is the Ozone systems. These basically change the structure of your scent molecules by adding more oxygen, and are supposed to work wonderfully. However, they’re still not perfect. And they’re only good if you’re stationary in a blind or tree stand. There are also other great products on the market, such as Scent Lok OzRadial, Code Blue Grave Digger, Tink’s E-Scent, and Dead Down Wind. These products all claim that they work the best, but at the end of the day, they’re all working towards the same goal. They’re trying to cover up the scent your body is producing.
Scents that scare animals away
A deer’s sense of smell is far superior to us as humans. Our bodies are equipped with 5 million olfactory receptors. In contrast, a deer has 297 million olfactory receptors. Basically, they smell anything and everything, but what scares them away. All predators put off a distinct smell, at least to a deer with a heightened sense of smell. Whether it’s a coyote, mountain lion, or a human, deer are able to identify that specific smell. Once identified, they immediately recognize the threat and their instincts kick in.
In conclusion, there are many opinions out there on whether scent control really works. Does it hurt to use them, no! Unless you rely too much on them. I recommend using all the tools in your toolbox if you choose. Use scent control, use new scent technology like Ozonics, but above all, use the wind to your advantage. Using the wind is tried and true. It works, but it can burn you. The wind can change direction in an instant. Learn how to use weather patterns, learn how to use thermal directions, and use them to help you harvest the animal of your dreams.