By Chris Eberhart
Almost twenty years ago I picked up my first activated carbon Scent Lok suit. Before that I just played the wind and wore rubber boots, like everybody else in those days. The results of pulling on that suit and using it correctly blew me away. That first season I saw overall more than twice as many deer while hunting than I ever had before, four times as many bucks, and six different bucks that were big enough to make the Michigan record books, which is a lot for Michigan, particularly back in the early nineties. The seed of scent control was sewn in my mind, and I have been a scent control perfectionist ever since. I have become so confident in my ability to use science to fool deer’s noses that I rarely pay attention to the wind. This may sound like a very bold statement, but the proof is in the pudding. Almost every mature buck I have killed over the last couple of decades was either straight downwind before I killed it, or other deer crossed completely in my wind before it showed up. Fooling a buck’s nose is totally possible, I have done it countless times over the past two decades, success though lies in paying attention to detail. (As far as the science of activated carbon is concerned I actually made a trip to Neanderthal in Germany to the world’s largest producer of military activated carbon suits to get a look at their science. The stuff works beyond a shadow of a doubt. And, in light of Scent Lok recently winning the frivolous lawsuit against it, it is actually proven before the courts that it works (almost) as advertised. An activated carbons suit is like any tool, you have to use it correctly to achieve the best results.)
Even though the science of scent control has been developing for decades there are a lot of naysayers out there, who simply don’t believe it is possible to fool a deer’s nose. To these guys I simply say, “You are doing something wrong.” I see guys all the time wearing activated carbon suits while pumping gas, or sitting in a restaurant. I watch guys on TV wearing the entire activated carbon suit, except the head cover. Forget the head cover and you might as not wear the suit, because your head emits tons of odor. I have watched friends go through the entire scent control routine only to grab a backpack that has been rolling around behind the seat of their truck for weeks or months, and then claim their activated suit doesn’t work right. These are only a few examples. You must consider every potential source of scent.
Scent control begins at the source, your body. Before you hunt take a pre-hunt scent eliminating shower. This step alone goes a long way towards getting closer to deer. After the shower I like to spray down with Vanishing Hunter by Buck Fever Synthetics. I also brush my teeth with baking soda based toothpaste, and use scent eliminating deodorant. Another thing that I think about during hunting season is my diet. If you eat garlic and onions for dinner, and drink a pot of coffee for breakfast you will smell a lot like garlic, onions, and coffee. In short you will stink. For maximum scent control success you should also control your diet during season leaving out foods that give you a malodorous touch.
Before you hunt you should wash all of your undergarments and hunting clothes in scent free or scent eliminating detergent. Stow your clothes immediately in airtight plastic boxes. All my hunting clothes are in various tubs labeled accordingly. I have several sets of undergarments in individual tubs ready to go. The next step is to have your activated carbon suits regenerated and ready to go. You can get fairly scent free without wearing an activated carbon suit, but using the filter technology it provides is a final catch all and insurance that your scent control efforts will be rewarded, and cover for long hikes to your stand, during which you may break into a sweat. Immediately after my suits are regenerated I place them in their own airtight plastic box. I also have clean scent free rain gear in other boxes. After my shower I grab the plastic boxes I need and load them in my van. I always dress when I arrive at my hunting spot. When you use an activated carbon suit don’t forget that you have to cover your entire body, including head cover and gloves. And, don’t forget to wear scent free rubber boots, with your pant legs over your boots.
Gear is a source of scent a lot of people tend to forget. Gear starts with your vehicle. I always spray down the inside of my van with scent eliminating spray during the season, and let an ozone generator run on the inside regularly. The idea is to keep the inside of your vehicle from becoming a source of scent. I also limit the sources of scent in my hunting vehicle, for instance no one is ever allowed to smoke in my car. I also wash my packs in scent eliminating detergent, just like my hunting clothes, and it along with all of my gear is placed in a plastic box and treated with ozone. Before I touch anything I spray my hands with Vanishing Hunter spray, along with anything that may have been contaminated with scent.
This is a short version of my routine, but it should give you a sense of the detail required to fool a mature buck’s nose. It is impossible eliminate one hundred percent of your scent, but you can reduce it enough so that you will not be recognized as a threat. There is a threshold of scent required to spook deer and you can get well below that level. A single oversight however can render your routine far less effective. For instance, after literally not having a deer wind me in years several does and bucks spooked two days in a row. After those hunts I re-cleaned everything, and found my mistake. I was wearing a synthetic watch band that stunk. A little oversight can make the difference in whether you kill a big buck or have deer hightailing it in the other direction. I left the watch at home, and wasn’t winded again that season. Regular whitetail bowhunting success lies in paying attention to the details. Paying attention to the details of scent control can cover for a lot of other mistakes. You can do almost everything wrong and still be successful when your scent control is right on. The same certainly isn’t true for the other way around.
For more: www.bowhuntingwildfood.com
– Chris Eberhart
If you missed them, be sure to check out the previous three entries in Chris’ scent control series…
Part 1: Scent Control
Part 2: A Hunt Without Scent Control
Part 3: A Hunt With Scent Control