First off, I don't claim to have a whole lot of science to back me up. Second, I used to think scent was THE SINGLE MOST important factor. Third, when I get wound up on this sort of thing, it is because I don't like to be flim-flammed.
Science, or lack thereof, is at the heart of all this. However, if you dig down, nobody has done any. You'd think there would be. There isn't. Even my experience is very anecdotal. Yes, I used to get busted a lot. In fact it was all the time. Then I read an article on hardcore scent reduction. I started bathing at camp and started washing my clothes between trips. Wow! What a difference. However, I kept going further and further down the bunny hole. I blamed all my bad luck on scent. The truth is that I was hunting where there were damn few deer. Once I found a spot that had a good deer population, I started having close encounters. However I thought it was because I was so rigorous in my scent discipline. It took over a decade for me to start to question the efficacy of all my scent goofiness.
Now that I have been on the same property for over a decade, I can tell you some basic thoughts:
1) A modicum of personal hygiene goes a long way. Read theShamanic Baking Soda Method
This is probably overkill, but it puts you on the right path.
2) I have grown to question how deer see us. High-pressure deer may be a whole other matter, but on my 200 acres the deer and I coexist in something other than a straight prey/predator relationship. Furthermore, I'm not really sure they see death the way we do. I
'm still a little hazy on this. But I have grown to question everything after 30 years.
3) I think we, as hunters, have let ourselves be led down a garden path of non-reality. We worry about things like chewing gum, but we are told the naptha fumes coming off a new pair of rubber boots can't be sensed by the deer. BTW: My LaCrosse boots finally succumbed after 20 years. The back seam went. They still smell lightly of naptha.
I have to run now. More later.