By Chris Eberhart
Scent control is the most important development in hunting in the last fifty years, at least that is my opinion, and strict attention to scent control changes your hunts dramatically. Last week I described a typical hunt without scent control. This week I will describe a hunt with scent control.
You step outside just after your pre hunt scent reducing shower and check the wind. This is more of a habit from the old days than a necessity. You are fully aware that with strict and careful scent control measures you really don’t need to pay attention to the wind. You have two spots in mind where the buck activity is hot right now, and the wind isn’t exactly right for either, but how often is the wind exactly right? You decide to hunt the primary scrape area, where the wind is just a little better, a cross wind into the bedding area, instead of straight into it.
Pulling on some scent free street clothes you load a couple of plastic tubs in your vehicle. One contains your scent free backpack and equipment and the other your scent free undergarments and activated carbon outerwear. Slipping into the driver’s seat you notice that the inside of your vehicles smells like nothing at all, because you regularly plug in your ozone generator and let in run to knock down any scent that might arise in there. You do the same thing with all your gear too.
When you arrive at your hunting area you step out and get dressed on the spot. Before touching anything you spray down your hands with Vanishing Hunter scent eliminating spray. You leave the legs of pants outside of your scent free Lacrosse rubber boots, so that any scent that puffs out at each step is effectively captured by your activated carbon filter. You also make sure that everything is covered, no gaps. As a last step you spray down the grip of your bow, because you shot a few arrows last evening.
You walk away from your vehicle and feel good under your scent control armor. You stop to smell yourself, but can’t pick up anything at all. Because you’ve hunted for so long you are still very careful to take a circuitous route to your stand, thinking of the scent ribbon you used to leave behind. And you still leave a scent ribbon, but it is more of just the scent of disturbed earth than of stinky human. Arriving at your stand you notice that the wind is still fair, angling into the bedding area, just like you expected.
Settling in you relax, but are on full alert, because this is one of two spots in your hunting area that are hot right now. About an hour later you catch glimpse of the first deer of the evening. A doe steps out of the bedding area some distance away and crosses the path you walked in on. She almost traces your exact footsteps for a while and shows no concern, and doesn’t seem to even notice that a person has walked through. You smile, remembering how deer after deer used to spook the second they crossed your path back in the days when you used to wear leather boots. The doe makes it a ways from the bedding area and is followed by another deer, and another, and another, and finally a young buck steps out. The youngster takes to chasing the does, and you watch and enjoy the natural deer activity unfolding in front of your eyes. They have no idea you are there. Time flies by.
Suddenly the wind shifts and is now blowing straight into the bedding area. You’re not worried though, you have confidence that you have done everything right in the scent control department. As if she was waiting for the wind to change, a big mature matriarch doe saunters out of the bedding area and moves straight into the wind right up to the scrapes that are twenty yards from your tree. The wind is blowing straight to her, and for an instant she stops and takes a careful look in your direction, lifting her nose checking the wind a couple times. It is as if she is saying, “I smell something, but it is so faint that perhaps there was a person here a day or two ago, or perhaps there is a person a mile away.” Residual human scent is everywhere, and must be above a certain level for deer to spook. The doe then flips her tail back and forth, and eases over to the scrapes, marking a licking branch or two, and just lingering a bit, and nibbling on a few greens. She is so close you can see her eyes blink and her chest rise and fall with every breath. You watch her pick leaves off a briar patch, chew a few times and swallow. How cool is this, having a mature doe super close with no idea you are there? You are focused on the doe, and not moving a muscle, as to not to spook her.
The doe swivels her ears back towards the bedding area, lifts her head and stares. You instantly follow her gaze. Antlers are the first thing you see, big antlers. It is a buck that you knew was on the property but haven’t seen since late summer. He struts towards the doe, but unfortunately she is a little coquette and angles out towards the other deer. And even more unfortunate, the buck takes the shortest route towards the doe and crosses past you out of range. You watch him chase her and other does until it gets dark. Several deer cross in and out of your wind during that time and not a single one spooks.
You sit in your stand until well after dark, waiting for the deer to get as far away as possible before climbing down and heading out of the woods on a different route than you took towards your stand. The last thing you want to do is spook the deer working their way out to the neighboring farmland. They will return in the morning, and you will be there too. Perhaps this time the buck with stop to check his scrapes. Even if he doesn’t, you know where you will be hunting the next few days. Because you are so scent free you can put some pressure on this spot without fearing totally mucking up the area. Scent control will help make it happen. If you want your hunts to unfold like this, you must pay extreme attention to scent control. It isn’t difficult it just requires a little thought and attention to detail. The scent control idea and the accompanying array of products are the most important development in hunting in the last fifty years. Take advantage of the ultimate bowhunting advantage.
More about a solid scent control routine, and a bit of science, next week.
– Chris Eberhart, www.BowhuntingWildFood.com