Nicole McClain: A Stinky Season – How to Wash and Store Deer Hunting Clothes


The Deer Huntress

Ready to rock! It’s hunting season y’all! (photo copyright Nicole McClain)

I love the guys that tell me scent has no affect on their game.

Let’s keep this simple: We are predators to deer – so go into the woods as scent-free as possible.

The smell of deer hunting and dating a woman

I usually encourage you to think like the game you’re hunting… but let’s momentarily think like a biped. You’re a man or woman trying to pick up a chick or dude. You think that if you stink like a week-old sock that fancy-manicured hottie isn’t going to notice? Is a shower all you can do to up your ante from the competition? We have similar options for deer as we do in the dating world: Soaps, scented sprays and gels that keep us tidy and luscious too. The question isn’t should we use them — the question is which ones should we use?


Disclaimer: Doe urine may be fancied by a woman if she is a hunter, but most of the time, this will not be successful. (photo copyright Nicole McClain)

Older generations washed with baking soda

The market is oversaturated with sprays, rubs, wafers, body soaps, detergents, containers, etc. I wish we had an FDA-like administration to regulate the shelves of my favorite hunting-goods stores. What did we do before these products? Older folks, before they had all the rigmarole of carbon technology, scent blocker, and fresh-earth spray, used baking soda and were still great takers of their time. So you could decide to arm-and-hammer out the odors — its probably cheaper — but I say if the technology is available, make use of it.

So until the hunter’s FDA comes along to regulate, let’s figure out the culprits that ruin our chances of going undetected and how to take care of your clothes once they are free of biped stank. Then we can decide on which specific make-me-smell-like-dirt products to use.

2 types of stinky-arse problems – you and your environment

First type is regular human odor – we have a smell. My mom used to lean over and smell the top of my head, “You smell like Nicole.” Granted, I smelled like caterpillars and dirt then too, but Mom didn’t notice or mention it. And it’s not the smell of vanilla lotion or bean soup. It’s just a normal human scent that God gave to us.

Nicole McClain on Deer & Deer Hunting

I love to fish too, and have since I was a little gal. But there’s no way the fishing tackle is stored near my hunting gear. It’s just one more thing to keep in mind for scent-free deer hunting gear. (photo copyright Nicole McClain)

Second type is your surrounding odors — or what I call “life stinks.” Smells like cologne and perfumes, shampoos, automobile fresheners, car fumes, cooking in the kitchen, animals, fabric softeners — all things both pleasant and stinky that have the opportunity to permeate your clothes, hair, car seats and of course, hunting clothes.

De-stink your washer of all-things-human and flowery

Once the washing process begins at the McClain house, I’m guarding the laundry room like a frothy Rottweiler just beyond the fence line. Here’s how it looks:

1. With normal street clothes, run a large washer load with unscented laundry detergent
2. Clean out the dryer lint tray and mist with fresh earth spray
3. Flip wet clothes to the dryer with fresh earth dryer sheets
4. Repeat washer and dryer steps with a second set of street clothes
5. Run a third washer cycle with no clothes (just water) with unscented laundry detergent
6. Run a fourth cycle with hunting clothes and unscented laundry detergent
7. Flip wet clothes to the dryer with fresh earth dryer sheets
8. Place dry clothes immediately from dryer into an unscented plastic container or scent-free bag
9. Hang clothes on clothesline outside in nice weather
10. Be sure to remove clothes from the line in the evenings to avoid dew and moisture
11. Place in scent-free container and seal tightly

Would it be nice to have a separate washer and dryer for hunting clothes only? Sure. Is that practical for most people? No. ‘Nuf said.

Open your eyes to UV brighteners and static cling dryer sheets

Look for dryer sheets that won’t leave a residue on the inside of your dryer, but do prevent static cling in all of your hunting clothes. The residue is less of a worry to me – I’ve been known to smell like “dirt and acorns” on my regular clothes and I’m perfectly fine with that. However, who wants to stick together, especially when you start zeroing-in on that 10-point?

You can also use hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free, dye-free, laundry detergent. Make sure it has no color brighteners or enhancers. Deer see in a spectrum of UV light, so make sure your detergent is the UV-blocked kind.

Storage containers and scent-free bags

You ever leave a bag of trash inside your garage? Do not store your hunting clothes in a garbage bag — if a smell can get out of a garbage bag, it can get into a garbage bag. And if you’re storing hunting clothes in the garage, they will gradually pick up the smell of car fumes and dirty carbide bits.

You don’t need anything fancy-schmancy. A large plastic container – the tighter the seal the better –  will do just fine. You can leave them outside and toss easily into the back of your truck. Line the bottom of the container with old leaves, sticks and a squirt of fresh earth spray. If you like spending your Benjamins on the sealable bags, those are another option too — although I tried that route and I had bags everywhere.

Odds and ends… including your skivvies

Wash everything from your skivvies to your gloves and think about the odds and ends. Bowhunters have a release – is it made of fabric collecting your sweat and human scent? What about your slings for carrying your muzzleloader or crossbow? Your gear needs to be undetectable too.

Don’t forget your boots, especially your early-season “fabric” boots. Spray them down or give a light wash if possible. Rubber boots are great for scent containment. With either type, throw a fresh earth dryer sheet down in the boot when they are not being used — it will cover up odors and absorb any moisture.

Nicole McClain on Deer & Deer Hunting

Keeping your hunting gear as scent-free as possible can be a challenge. Thankfully there are plenty of quality products out there to help eliminate the odors that could ruin your chance at the buck of a lifetime. (photo copyright Nicole McClain)

Skunk washin’ and turd kickin’

If you’re looking for a homemade recipe to remove skunk odor from your canine friend, I’ve got that nailed too so hit me up on Facebook or Twitter for the ingredients. (Mog is always poking his nose at those black cats with white stripes.) And if you remember nothing else from these pearls of wisdom, remember this: Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.

Nicole McClain – Model. Actress. Deer Hunter.

Mog says good luck hunting this weekend! (photo copyright Nicole McClain)

Nicole is connected with brands and foundations like Pink Arrow ProjectLumenokCAMX CrossbowsDeer & Deer Hunting Magazine20th Century FoxFight Like a Girl!J.C. PenneyTGI FridaysKellogg’sColdwater CreekSusan G. KomenU.S. ElitePickle Press ComicsGrange Insurance, and

Check out more of Nicole on Deer & Deer Hunting:

Read Nicole’s Expanded “I’m A Deer Hunter” Feature Now For More Insights!

Watch Nicole on Deer Talk Now!

Take a Look at Nicole’s Photo Gallery!

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