It's funny, but I remember a time before scents were big. I remember a time when nobody paid attention to scent control and walked around the woods in wool jacket reeking of moth balls. Guys still shot deer. I don't believe success ratios have changed all that much-- it's still about 1 in 4
It was really back in the late 80's when this whole scent thing went throught roof. I remember one writer explaining that deer could not only tell apple vs. pear, but could tell what sort of apple it was, where it was, and what condition it was in. For a few years, I was buying in. I believed deer had super senses. They don't. Don't get me wrong. They've got good noses. They are much better than ours, but dogs are far superior. I've had the neighbor dogs follow my scent trail a good half mile-- smelly farm dogs . I've then had deer walking that same trail 20 minutes later. You make your own conclusions.
You either drink the Kool Aid, or you don't. You either believe deer can tell the difference between a bottle of single-doe pee and me whizzing in the bottle or you don't. If you do, you also have to admit, that deer can smell your naptha-smelling rubber boots, and the stink coming off your clothes.
Have you ever really smelled your clothes? They reek! How can you expect a charcoal MOP suit to work if they leave it hanging in the store? How can you expect that charcoal to work for you when you can smell that jacket yourself? The reason why it works is because deer don't have THAT great a nose. It's good. It's just not THAT good.
How good is it? When I shower before hunting, pull fresh clothes out that have been dusted with sodium bicarb, and do all the stuff I do, I can fool a deer 70 yards downwind. When I've missed something-- when I wear yesterday's shirt-- I can get busted 20 yards upwind. My deer follow me all the way to the stand, snorting all the way. These girls are serious critics: "You stink!!!"
How good is it? I've had a doe follow a boot pad soaked with Interdigital for 50 yards, stand at the foot of the ladder and lick the pad. I've had two bucks follow a scent line made with tarsal its entire length. In the latter case, I watched them come in like bird dogs with their nose to the ground. It was a long time later it finally dawned on me that they were coming up that trail anyway. I'd done this on a major travel route along a fence line. Yeah, they were interested, but they would have been walking up that trail anyway. Putting a line of tarsal down just made them more wary.
Why is it all so spotty? Hunting pressure. Exposure to humans is not a big problem for deer. Exposure to humans that mean to kill them is. Once they get the idea y'all mean to do them harm, they'll figure out every stink you have on you and associate it with danger. That goes for the foot odor coming off the top of your smelly rubber boot. That goes for that $10 bottle of single-doe estrus scent. You can forget those tablets that are supposed to make your farts smell like roses too. They'll be onto that. In fact, they'll be able to smell what you had for breakfast. They'll be able to smell what brand of gas you buy. They'll know the mfg date of your ATV . They'll . . .
. . .That is, if you believe the catechism. If you don't-- if you've gotten past that-- you can sit back in your stand and feel a bit safer-- the noses that seek you aren't THAT good.
Some foreign odors are just more alarming in their nature too.
To farmland deer of any age, chocolate, coffee, cow manure and diesel oil for example, in small amounts can be completely ignored. But the smell of cigarette smoke mixed with the surface area of the human respiratory system is never gonna fly for a mature animal of either gender.
Hot coffee and a big bag of trail mix is SOP for me, as are apples. I am such a nut about wind direction and direction of deer travel anyway, that I don't usually find stuff like this a problem.
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