Editors Blog

A Simple Key to Scent-Free Deer Hunting Success

Deer & Deer Hunting Editor-in-Chief insists on taking a shower before every hunt. That way, he knows he's doing everything in his power to keep deer from sensing his presence.

Deer & Deer Hunting Editor-in-Chief Dan Schmidt insists on taking a shower before every hunt. That way, he knows he’s doing everything in his power to keep deer from sensing his presence.

Scent-free soaps, shampoo, sprays and other products are key to staying one step ahead of the whitetail’s keen nose.

Deer are intelligent animals, but their intelligence is based purely on the instinctual reflexes of a prey species. In other words, they react – most often quickly and decisively – to out-of-place stimuli. It might be an odd odor, flash of white from a T-shirt, or subtle metallic sound from a tree stand. They sense something and skedaddle. They don’t stand around analyzing it.

by Daniel E. Schmidt

Commercial scent makers have received much criticism over the years because a few shady characters viewed the industry as a way of getting rich by hawking inferior products. As is the case with most businesses, the wannabes have run themselves out of business. Today’s market includes some great products that definitely help hunters fool more deer.

My approach to reducing scent has evolved over the years. Today, I will at least try just about every product there is to see if it can help me improve my approach. The basics, however, never change, and that starts with something as simple as taking a shower. I use almost all of the brands on the market at one time or another during the season. That includes Wildlife Research Center products when I’m heading afield to film segments for Deer & Deer Hunting TV on NBC Sports.

Reducing human odor is the No. 1 key to any successful hunt. That’s why a serious scent-elimination plan is difference between goodness and greatness. It’s even more important when hunting bucks.

My program is simple but rigid. I shower before every hunt, using a commercial product like the Scent Killer Gold liquid soap from Wildlife Research Center.

After showering and drying off, I dress in nonhunting clothes (usually a long-sleeve T-shirt and sweatpants) and pull on a pair of spare rubber boots that I use just for driving. I sometimes even go so far as to place a clean bed sheet on the seat of my car, because the leather seat is a sure trap for foreign odors.


My hunting clothes and boots stay sealed in a zippered Hunters Specialties scent-proof bag until I’m at my hunting area. I usually park by some evergreens or a thick fence line and use them as my “dressing room.” This approach might sound over the top. I’ve had many people laugh at me for “being a weirdo.” No skin off my nose.

Ever since adopting this program 18 years ago, I’ve seldom been winded by deer while hunting. In fact, I can count those instances on one hand, and in all of the cases, I attribute sloppy preparation on my part as the reason why they smelled me.