Astronaut Technology Helps Deer Hunters

One unexpected challenge that used to face astronauts working in space stations was the problem of being confined with all those accumulating human smells complicated by not being able to take showers in outer space. To solve this problem, researchers developed an electronic organic molecular scrubber that literally killed odors by using an airborne plasma of molecules. This technology found its way to medical and industrial applications to kill a wide range of odors and bacteria. And now this same technology is available to hunters to decontaminate odors and bacteria on everything they wear or carry into the woods.

One such device is called the Xterminator, and it is the size of a medium-sized stereo speaker. It simply plugs in to an electric outlet and turns any closet or small room into an odor-decontamination chamber. The Xterminator uses a patent-pending process that includes a unique combination of activated oxidation plasma. This process tears apart the molecular bonds of organic compounds into their base atomic elements.

I field-tested an Xterminator unit last fall and was impressed. I followed the instructions and placed all of my hunting clothes and gear, including my bow, in a basement closet and turned the machine on. After the charging time, I was impressed at the level in which it seemed to deodorize everything. My wife and I even placed some garlic-soaked, plastic pickle jar lids in the closet during one charging session. After an hour, there was no garlic residue whatsoever.

The only residue on my clothing and gear was a slight smell that reminded me of chlorine from a swimming pool. I’m still not sure exactly how the machine works, but after using it for nearly two months, I’m confident that it helps in deodorizing hunting garments and gear.

This is not to say I gave up on my total approach to scent elimination. I still wear Scent-Lok clothing and use Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer spray and Code Blue body wash. I shower before each hunt and do not dress in my hunting clothes until I am out of my vehicle. Although that routine alone has proven effective, the addition of the “recharged” clothing seemed to provide a distinct extra advantage. I arrowed one buck and two mature does during this experimental period, and none of them showed any signs of detecting my presence. Proof that it works? No, but it did provide additional confidence and peace of mind.

Two other companies offer similar scent-killing units. Ozonics offers a product that promises to remove human odor emitted from the body, breath, clothing and surrounding areas. Perfumes, food smells, smoke and natural human scent can also be eliminated using an Ozonics unit. This unit runs on batteries and sells for one-half the price of similar products.

The Moxy Scent Elimination System uses a garment bag and portable Moxy Generation Unit to treat hunting apparel. The unit creates a patented antibiotic, supercharged oxygen molecule that seeks and eradicates all forms of bacteria, mold, mildew, fungus and other odor-causing microorganisms. It is advertised as not being harmful to humans and animals.

The Xterminator and Moxy units both retail for $500 at various on-line stores, while the Ozonics unit retails for $250 at Bass Pro Shops. The Ozonics unit is portable, and can be used in a tree stand while hunting to create an odor-free zone.

According to a former NASA scientist, the concept behind these machines is plausible. “My guess is that most of these products are ozone generators, maybe coupled with ionizers,” the source said.  “They all work in that ozone oxidizes most volatiles and kills most bacteria, and ionizers have a similar impact on dust and other small particles (smoke carbon, etc.). I’ve actually had one in my lab for over 15 years, so it’s not exactly a cutting-edge concept.

“Ozone works,” he added. “It should cut down odor each time it is used (assuming electricity is available), so it should be useful when laudrying isn’t convenient. Ozone does eat rubber, so don’t expect your elastic to last quite as long.  It also is hard on soft plastics and acts as a bleaching agent (the bleach-like smell that even you detected).

“I am not sure how you or I would know if an odor-reducing system really ‘worked’ from a deer’s perspective. Our assumption is that if we can’t detect it easily, neither can the deer.”
Only time will tell if these machines stand up to the rigid standards of deer hunters.