scent dissipation

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burnnurse1
 
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scent dissipation

Postby burnnurse1 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:13 am

Got a question for ya. I've asked several guys this and never get the same answer twice. Taking rubber boots and scent elimination products out of the equation, If Joe Blow was to take a little jaunt through the woods, In lets say just plain old hunting boots and clothing, how long would it take for his scent to totally dissipate? I've heard anywhere from minutes to days. I know there are alot of factors that come into play such as humidity, wind, etc. So for the sake of argument lets say weather condions are ideal.
 
The reason I ask this is because, as a rule, if I have to track a wounded animal through the woods, I usually don't hunt that area for a while because of the scent I've dispersed. I try to let it cool down a little before going back in.

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shaman
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby shaman » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:58 am

ORIGINAL: burnnurse1

Got a question for ya. I've asked several guys this and never get the same answer twice. Taking rubber boots and scent elimination products out of the equation, If Joe Blow was to take a little jaunt through the woods, In lets say just plain old hunting boots and clothing, how long would it take for his scent to totally dissipate? I've heard anywhere from minutes to days. I know there are alot of factors that come into play such as humidity, wind, etc. So for the sake of argument lets say weather condions are ideal.

The reason I ask this is because, as a rule, if I have to track a wounded animal through the woods, I usually don't hunt that area for a while because of the scent I've dispersed. I try to let it cool down a little before going back in.


The older I get the less I worry about these things.

25 years ago I went out hunting in wool clothes that stunk of mothballs and I smoked a pipe.  I saw deer nearly every time I went out. 

20 years ago I went on a sodium bicarbonate kick and started washing all my hunting clothes in it.  I still saw deer. 

3 years ago I was out tending my stand with my wife and 2 sons along for fun. It was a hot muggy afternoon early in bow season.  We were all out enjoying the day when two big bucks walked up and started watching.

Go figure.

5 years ago I killed a big buck and was so sure that the gutting, etc. would upset the deer, I carried the whole bruiser up out of the ravine and cleaned him back at the farm house.

Last year my son killed a deer from that same stand on 3rd weekend in October. The shot eviscerated  the animal and we had deer guts all over the place.

Three weeks later I killed the biggest one of my life from the same spot while four other bucks looked on.

Go figure.


How quickly does scent dissipate?  My question is: How important is that?  

I'm not trying to say deer don't notice human scent.  However, 25 years have given me a different perspective.

My guess is that deer reason enough to shy away from human scent when they have a reason to.  If your stand is next to Tree A and you put up a stink,  deer will eschew Tree A and go to Tree B to eat their acorns as long as Tree B exists.  Tree A become associated with your stink.  Now assume Tree B does not exist.  Tree A will still be beckoning. 

Second, this assumes one group of deer.  If Herd A gets wind of you at Tree A and does all their future feeding at Tree B, that opens up Tree A for Herd B.  Herd B does not care, because the scent has dissipated a little (how much is unimportant).  The key here is that when they show up they also do not have the visual cue of you up in the stand drawing down on them.



I have played with this concept many times.  I had deer getting wise to me in my stand.  I put up a second stand a bit further down the trail.  Deer walk past Stand A and do a dodge-n-weave through the bushes only to emerge back on the trail 50 yards away and Blam!


To go back to your initial question: Airborne scent dissipates very quickly-- think minutes.  Scent left over on the ground takes hours to go away based on temperature and humidity. 

Now also factor in this:  scent is not just your stink.  It is also the stink of every plant you step on and break.  Every crushed leaf, every bit of exposed dirt.  You leave  foot-shaped scent beacons constantly. Nothing can stop this.  On the other hand, I've had good bucks  walk right over  or directly follow that sort of trail when I was doing only a modicum of scent control measures. 

My point in all this is:  exactly how important is scent.  I started out thinking it a minimal problem. I just hunted the wind and left the rest up to chance.  Then I got seriously into scent control. Now I've come full circle:  a little bit of common sense and personal hygiene goes a long way. 
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JPH
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby JPH » Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:42 am

Shaman just gave you a great answer (albeit a long one [;)]). And that is coming from a scent control freak! But I'd like to offer my own answer anyway.
 
You said if "weather conditions are ideal". Ideal in what way? For scent dispersal, or detection? Dry conditions, wind and rain all work in your favor. Damp or humid conditions, under a low pressure system will result in the best conditions for the deer's nose.
 
Another factor is what you may be brining in on your hunting boots. There is a big difference between gasoline and regular old shoe leather. IMO, fuel or chemical odors are going to hang around much longer than odors given off by natural materials (even your own skin oil).
 
But back to your question. How long does the odor hang around? In terms of how long it can be detected by a deer, I can't say. Sorry, but I do not think any of us can fully grasp their sense of smell. My guess is they can detect it for days, if not weeks, under ideal conditions.
 
I think the bigger question is, how long do they consider this odor to be a threat? And that depends on how a deer is using a given area. If they are traveling from bed to feed or looking for does I don't think cutting across a human scent trail is of any real concern to them. But if they are on alert for danger, as in responding to calling, I think a mature buck will back away from a recent human odor. I also think that human odor in a bedding area will cause a deer to move. In these situations, the deer needs very little excuse to change it's habits.
 
So my bottom line advice would be to stay out of known bedding areas if at all possible, and if you are going to call or decoy, be very careful with your scent. Otherwise, follow Shaman's post.

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RE: scent dissipation

Postby Squirrelhawker » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:06 am

One of my favorite topics. My short answer would be it depends [;)]
 
With the exception of maybe whitetails living in remote areas that rarely if ever contact humans, the fact is whitetails smell humans all the time.
One of the key factors IMO is how their little computers fit it into context.
The deer that smells humans working behind the barn all day or out on the tractor has it marked it down as routine. Along with the coyote moving upwind at 200 yards. That same human odor 100 yards outside their favorite bedding area is liable to cause a bit more concern. Not panic, concern. And, learning. I was taught and still believe, a good rain can really clean your trail. Just as there are good conditions for tracking dogs and bird dogs, there are conditions in which deer can glean more information, from our movements.
 
The post re smelly wool and smoking a pipe is a good illustration. There can be lots of situations where those same odors can cause an adverse reaction. There are as always so many variables. Time of year, breeding, amount of human pressure and IMO individual deer. A whitetail that comes in downwind of a smelly bowhunter and hangs around long enough to get itself shot is IMO a deer that is seriously muddying the gene pool and needs to die before it passes its DNA on and render the species extinct [:D]
 
Rubber boots are usually my rule during any late scouting or hunting.

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EatDeer
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby EatDeer » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:30 am

I think the scent lasts for 4-6 hours.  When a blood hound is used for tracking a human scent trail, it has to be fairly fresh or the dog will lose the scent. That indicates to me that the scent trail is already dissapating within a few hours. Considering a bloodhound can smell scents several thousand times stronger then a deer's nose can detect same scents.  I'd say 4-6 hours is a safe bet on how long deer detectable human scent lasts in the woods.      I also think if the deer locates you by sight in a area, then that deer will avoid the area for a longer period of time, regardless if scent is dispursed in the area or not.   
"Let a young buck go, so he can grow."

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Woods Walker
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:42 am

Great responses! You guys nailed it!
 


..."[size=2]With the exception of maybe whitetails living in remote areas that rarely if ever contact humans, the fact is whitetails smell humans all the time.
One of the key factors IMO is how their little computers fit it into context. "

 
This about sums it up as well as anything does!
 
One of the reasons people perceive scent-loc suits working as well as they do, is that although I don't believe for a nano-second that it ELIMINATES human odor, and that the so-called "rejuvination" in a standard household drier is documented as impossible, the nature of the garment itself seals in a certain amount of human odor, so that even though deer may still smell you, they think that you are maybe a 100 yards or more away, and not the 20 yards that you really are.
 
As I've said before, my farmer friend reeks of diesel fuel and Winston cigarrettes, but when he drives in or walks in a field the deer pay him no mind. CERTAINLY they can smell him. They just don't associate his odor with danger, in fact, quite the opposite........"CONTEXT"


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EatDeer
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby EatDeer » Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:03 am

I read in another forum, that the Scent-Loc makers were sued in a class action law suit for several million dollars. I guess the company paid for telling lies about how thier product eliminates human scent.  The truth is that the suit just seals up the body better around the neck cuffs and waist, preventing some of the scent from escaping the body.  Without using other scent killer style products such as sprays, barsoap, and detergents ....the suit is useless other then the carbon liner. I personaly won't buy scent-loc clothing, I just spray my normal hunting clothing with about 7-8 layers of scent killer spray. That turns my Carrhart camo into a scent-loc suit,    without paying the hefty price tag.   
"Let a young buck go, so he can grow."

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JPH
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby JPH » Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:13 am

While I think the issue of Scent Lok and their claims is intreasting, I understand the OP to be more about the scent trail a hunter leaves on the ground.
 
I would look at carbon lined clothing as more about the reduction of airborne scent, whearas the issue of a scent trail is more detremined by direct contact.

Squirrelhawker
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby Squirrelhawker » Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:20 am

ORIGINAL: Woods Walker

Great responses! You guys nailed it!
 


..."[size=2]With the exception of maybe whitetails living in remote areas that rarely if ever contact humans, the fact is whitetails smell humans all the time.
One of the key factors IMO is how their little computers fit it into context. "

 
This about sums it up as well as anything does!

One of the reasons people perceive scent-loc suits working as well as they do, is that although I don't believe for a nano-second that it ELIMINATES human odor, and that the so-called "rejuvination" in a standard household drier is documented as impossible, the nature of the garment itself seals in a certain amount of human odor, so that even though deer may still smell you, they think that you are maybe a 100 yards or more away, and not the 20 yards that you really are.

As I've said before, my farmer friend reeks of diesel fuel and Winston cigarrettes, but when he drives in or walks in a field the deer pay him no mind. CERTAINLY they can smell him. They just don't associate his odor with danger, in fact, quite the opposite........"CONTEXT"


[/size]

 
Yes and that I believe is what the deal is with all scent control- giving the deer the illusion that you are either much farther away or were there a long time ago. I have never truly believed enough in the scent lok technology to invest any serious dough in it. I'm careful in wind direction and thorough in my other scent control protocols, and I hunt hard. And Lord willing, often rewarded accordingly.

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shaman
 
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RE: scent dissipation

Postby shaman » Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:31 am

Oh, don't get me started on activated carbon suits!!!

On the other hand, once somebody starts to take scent seriously, it's always a good step.  Take me as an example:

1985:  The shaman pulls his wool clothes out of the bag that he put them in last weekend, slaps them on and goes off to hunt. You can still smell the mothballs, but the pipe tobacco hides most of it.  No shower from Friday morning to Sunday night.  Deodorant has a manly smell.  Shaving cream reeks.

1989:  The sodium bicarb bug has bit.  Everything is washed in it. A handful goes in every garbage bag. Wool is out.  Poly-pro is out.  I'm close to 100% cotton, because it does not retain scent.  I shower with sodium bicarb. I brush my teeth with it.  I dust with it.   If I can't shower between morning and afternoon hunts, I'm at least washing out of a bucket of water with sodium bicarb in it.  Shaving now with a bar of soap and a brush.

Yes, I see more deer. Yes, the deer get closer.  Yes, there are more shooting opportunities. However, the big difference is this:  I care more about scent.  That in and of itself is more important than anything else.  I have to admit that by the time I got home Sunday, I stunk.  It was okay, because nobody except the occasional truck stop waitress had to put up with it.  Just changing clothes a couple extra times each weekend probably did more than  anything.

The guy who goes from wearing the same coat into the field that he wore to work all week to using dedicated hunting clothes has improved his hunting possibilities. Whether that's a $500 MOP suit or just a pair of coveralls he keeps clean is probably immaterial. 

I've also said this before:  what makes sense with a small herd has little bearing on a larger herd.  If you're standing to honk off only 1-2 deer with your stench that's a big difference from a population of 20-30 individual deer in a season. Where I hunt now, I may get busted outright by a deer or two in a season.  So what?  If they leave the immediate area, there will be plenty of others to fill in behind them.  Twenty years ago, those 2 deer might have meant my whole season.
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