Okay something I forgot to add in the OP, then more thoughts:
The deer who have winded me this year seem to think I am very far away. When I have had deer get downwind and smell something, they have responded by looking far in the distance for the source. I had one doe at 20 yards, directly downwind but she was looking onto the next property. Hmmm.
Anayway, I think I should have prefaced this thread with the explanation that I am a bow hunter. I hunt the gun seasons, but I'm still just a solitary bow hunter with a gun. I don't update my tactics much when bow season gives way to gun. This probably explains why my gun hunting success has been pretty lackluster.
Scent control is not necessarily vital for success in every style of deer hunting. If a hunter only needs to get a deer within 50 yards, I'd say that careful scent control is not so important. Nor is it important if a hunter is a spot and stalk or dedicated still hunter that can move with the wind. And again, I don't pretend that you will never see a big deer up close without scent control. What I am saying is really pretty simple. One, whitetail deer have an amazing sense of smell. Two, whitetail deer are, as a rule, afraid of human beings. So, I conclude that if you can somehow reduce the amount of human scent you emit, you will ultimately see and kill more deer. I think this is particularly true for bow hunters on small properties.
This topic is not for everyone, because not everyone needs it. I just happen to be in the camp of hunters who do. Somehow these conversations seem to get sidetracked. I'll be honest, when it comes to scent control conversations there are two extremes that pretty much lose me right away:
Those who claim to have found the magical cure. Those guys who have found a product that they claim makes them virtually without scent. These are the guys who claim to have never been winded since they began using _____.
Those who claim that deer are not afraid of scent, thus making scent control silly. These guys delight in telling you that they smoke on stand, fart at will and eat raw garlic cloves on stand and still have B&C bucks lick their boots every year.
I've burned much of my adult life talking with other hunters and reading about deer hunting. Trust me, both groups are well represented at every rural tavern, bow shop, and internet hunting forum in America. To both groups I offer a resounding "Bulls**t!"
The guys I want to talk to are somewhere in the middle. They accept that deer have a wicked good ability to detect hunters with their nose and they accept that the pursuit of total scentless zen is a wild goose chase. But they also at least buy into the concept that less scent would be a good thing if we could just come up with a formula. Again, trail and error baby.
I think that within 20 yards deer are going to smell us NO MATTER WHAT.
However, by thinking that we are 300 yards away, we provide almost no threat to them.
I won't lay out a grocery list of my methods- scent free wash, baking soda and spray is all I'll say, nothing outrageous. What I will point out though, which I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned much or at all, is stand height.
My climber is only 14.5lbs or so, and I can slip in and out of places in the dark quietly, and climb as high as I want. But back to my point...the previous nine years of my hunting wasn't high up...
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