Scent Control Revisited

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SwampLife
 
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby SwampLife » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:13 pm

ORIGINAL: tex3012

Question to figure out in this case is, If you did this multiple times during a deer season, would you still see as many deer? i believe once you educate the deer with your scent equals danger, then you wouldnt be able to get away with laying scent everywhere..


Well, simply putting my scent through the woods does not equal danger unless these deer have had a bad experience where my scent was present. If you ever encounter deer that are not hunted they are a completely different animal than the ones most of us chase around the woods, deer will accept and tolerate human presence until given a reason not to.


I am going to do a write up about my thoughts on deer psychology... I find it fascinating. I mean I am far from an expert or from completely understanding them but I feel that I have learned a lot from some research and observation, things I have never or rarely heard discussed.
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby Woods Walker » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:20 pm

ORIGINAL: SwampLife

ORIGINAL: tex3012

Question to figure out in this case is, If you did this multiple times during a deer season, would you still see as many deer? i believe once you educate the deer with your scent equals danger, then you wouldnt be able to get away with laying scent everywhere..


Well, simply putting my scent through the woods does not equal danger unless these deer have had a bad experience where my scent was present. If you ever encounter deer that are not hunted they are a completely different animal than the ones most of us chase around the woods, deer will accept and tolerate human presence until given a reason not to.


I am going to do a write up about my thoughts on deer psychology... I find it fascinating. I mean I am far from an expert or from completely understanding them but I feel that I have learned a lot from some research and observation, things I have never or rarely heard discussed.


You are right on, Swampy. It's all about CONTEXT.

Case in point.....I know of several situations where a person was sound asleep and SNORING, and the deer came right by him. In one case they actually APPROACHED him to see what in the hell was making all that noise! Now I'm NOT saying that all deer will react like this all the time, after all, I'm not Scent Lok! [:D] But if you think about it, when are deer ever threatened or harrassed by someone that's snoring? Unless they have had a bad experience where someone was snoring, then it WILL NOT necessarily scare them off. In fact, the opposite may even occur.
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loneranger
 
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby loneranger » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:40 am

I also think all deer are different. Just like humans. Some skiddish, overly cautious, others curious,,or carefree. The less cautious usually don't live to see many yrs. I grew up hunting deer in MI. Most in N. MI. on public land. MI has 400,000 bow hunters,,800,000 gun hunters. I can tell you, the deer there, even fawns, are very cautious and skidish. I know from experience. I paid for a hunt in S Dakota once on a 3,000 acre cattle ranch. They took out maybe 10 rifle hunters a yr. The deer there were like cattle. They came out of the timber way before dark and filed past me sitting on a 5 gal pail like I was not there! Some nice bucks too and does with fawns. Those deer were not harrassed by humans, you could tell. I now hunt in Iowa. Deer here are not as tame as the ranch in S Dakota, but way more tolerant of humans than in MI. The number of humans after their hides, does make a difference on how cautious they are.

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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby shaman » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:05 am

You bring up a good points about hunter density and individual personalities.   Take two examples from my time here at the farm. 

One was Madge:  Madge probably saw me shoot her mother and her son a year apart from the same stand.  Something snapped  in Madge's head, and she took every opportunity to hunt me out and would stand and stamp and snort for sometimes as much as a half hour while the rest of the herd would loiter around quietly eating acorns.  They'd obviously gotten tired of her staring into trees and snorting at things they couldn't sense.

The other is this current doe I have hanging out by my stand:  She knows I'm there, but up until last Monday she had no clue what I doing. One day, I saw her following my boot tracks down towards the blind.  She stopped about 100 yards from the bllind, turned around looking a bit bored and sauntered back, swishing her tail.  I guess she was just checking on me.  We'll see if she shows up next season, and if so, we'll see how her disposition towards me has changed.

Now, both these deer were resident doe.  They see me a lot out of season under neutral circumstances.  However, I probably put existential fear into one, and the other?  I'm not sure.  I don't know if she has a clue. The point is they generally lived on  opposite sides of a large sanctuary area . Two deer, same property, very different reactions to hunters. 

Hunter density?  On our place it never gets to be more than 3 on 200 acres.  However, I know that there's at least 8 on 100 acres to my North, and judging from the shots I hear, I'd say there's more than that on my other sides.  The CO told me on Opening Weekend that our part of the county is the most hunted.  This year, I heard 70 shots per hour, each of the first two hours of each of the first two days of the Rifle Opener.

Back to scent control.  What does this all mean?  What I say it means is that I agree there is a lot of difference deer to deer, plot to plot.  When you take my experience of 200 acres of private heaven and put it up against a heavily hunted WMA, things are going to be quite a bit different.  Just the individual experience deer-to-deer is going to be different. 

However, let me throw a third monkey wrench into this mix, and that's time of season.  I could have taken as many as 6 bucks in the past two weekends.  Up until this past Saturday, none of them showed the slightest interest in me.  Some were upwind of me, but a sizeable number were downwind.  They were in rut.  They were out sniffing for doe going into estrus, and my scent was superfluous.  I watched several bucks following scent trails.  Sometimes my boot tracks crossed or even ran parallel to their search-- no clue or at least no reaction. I had one buck get straight downwind of me this past weekend.  His reaction?  He snorted at me after I got up to stretch, but he held his ground and kept present me with decent shooting opportunities.  When he got upwind of me and I had sat back down, he gave up and went about his business. 

Anyhow, I just thought I'd drop by and throw some more stuff on the wall.
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby JPH » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:17 am

I definitely accept the case for hunting pressure and I kind of accept the part about context.

I still think we are doing a little too much anthropomorphism. (That's when we attribute human traits to animals. I had to look it up.) I just don't think deer remember or reason the way we think they do. They live on instinct and the closest thing we have to the experience of instinct is emotion. Emotion is the whip of instinct.

Let me explain. Let's say that I had a traumatic experience involving fire as a kid. I may well live my entire life with an irrational fear of fire. It might bet so bad that I experience the emotion of fear when I see a fire in a movie. Or maybe it will kick in with the smell of smoke from a bonfire. I may know it is irrational and control it, but it is always there. The same can be said for good emotions. The sight of fall colors or the smell of your your grandfather's pipe tobacco may elicit good emotions even when they do not fit the actual situation. As humans we can generally control our emotions (at least some of us can) and lead somewhat civilized lives. This is what separates us from lower animals. I suspect that a deer neither recognizes the source of their "emotion" in the form of a memory, nor do they reason though the context. "As a fawn, momma used to snort and run away every time the man stench came down the wind. That gave fear. From now on it is just a hardwired reaction to flee."

The more exposure deer have to humans, the more chances they have to imprint a negative reaction to them. The home range of a free ranging deer goes beyond the boundaries of most of our hunting properties, so I do not believe we can assimilate into their lives and make scent unimportant. I also do not believe that deer understand what has happened when we kill one of the herd. I spine shot a doe this season and soon had another 9 deer standing under my stand looking at her with curiosity. No, what I think they fear is when we climb from the stand and start the work of recovery. then they can hear, see and smell us.

I just think that the negative reaction to human scent is imprinted on the deer we hunt far before we start hunting them, or at least most of them. So I still consider scent control/reduction to be a vital element.  
 

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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:20 am

ORIGINAL: SwampLife

Let me tell you a story...

I have been hunting this block of woods 4 days in a row. I walk the edge of a standing cornfield and climb right up without entering the woods at all. Wind blows perfectly form the woods/thicket toward the corn. There is about a 10 acre woods/thicket patch that I am hunting(surrounded by plenty of standing corn with tree lines connecting it to much larger woodlots), it has been completely unmolested all year of any human intrusion to my knowledge. I have seen outstanding deer movement every day, and have not been busted once. I strongly suggest to my buddies that the lack of human odor/presence is the reason I am seeing so many deer.

I shoot a buck at 8 am. I retrieve a blood soaked arrow but still was not sure about the hit, rather the reaction to the hit. We back out and go change into our smelly 'tracking/cleaning blood clothes'. We go eat breakfast at the local diner in these clothes then go looking for my buck.

5 guys, hands and knees, bare hands on the ground. Blood trailing, spreading out and searching, through every brush pile and jagger patch within about 1000 yards of my stand.

That evening I sat in the same stand out of frustration and purely being stubborn. That evening I saw the most deer I had in one sit and the two biggest bucks we know of on that property. The does came in, sniffed I think every inch of where we had been, calmed down and started eating acorns. The bucks came in later and were completely oblivious to anything except the does and one another.

So I don't know. That evening pretty much re-wrote everything I thought I knew about deer hunting.

Not trying to discredit scent control, but that encounter really had me confused and thought you might find it interesting.


I have seen this too, and more than once. I'm beginning to believe that what's worse than human scent in an area, is having deer SEE YOU in an area on numerous occasions. For some reason a visual contact retains or alarms them more than a scent one. Of course, this also depends on where you are hunting. In most farm states in the midwest, deer smell humans all the time, so scent detection in and of itself may or may not be that big of a red flag. If it were, they'd never stop running.

Even with visual sightings it comes down to context many times. I live on 5 acres that's surrounded by larger wooded tracts. Those tracts have homes on them. I see deer almost every day, and as long as they see me walking to and from my barn, or doing the "usual" things I do, they just stand and look at me. But if I come from a different way or am in a place that I'm not normally, then they act like they've never seen a human before. They adapt, and they adapt well. That's why we have so many of them that live right with us. They also do this with scent.
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby shaman » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:24 am

That reminds me of what happened last Thursday.  I was cooking dog food out of some superannuated deer meat I found in the bottom of the freezer.  I spent all morning thawing it out, cutting it up, and stuffing it in a stew pot.  At Noon, I finally threw the lid on and let it simmer.  It was hot and close in the kitchen, even with the fan running, so I went out to catch a bit of fresh air.

I step outside and there is this doe, peering at me through the fence.  She's over in the next door neighbor's yard. 

"Little one," I said. "If you knew what I was doing inside that house, you'd run away."

She regarded me for a bit and then slowly walked off into the bushes.
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Woods Walker
 
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby Woods Walker » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:03 pm

It was probably Madge's niece casing your place for the hit she's put on you.
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby SwampLife » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:54 pm

Yes, all these posts are pretty much on cue with what I feel.

Deer can remember, thats for sure. Instinct is driven by triggers. Scent, sight, sound, body language, eye contact, location, time of season, time of day, weather all trigger different reactions in deer for different reasons, mostly experience. Deer do not know that you are a human, they view you as another animal and you can communicate to them, to a certain extent.

I wish I could find more information on deer psychology, all I can find is deer behavior. Understanding how deer behave and why deer behave the way they do are two completely different things. I can't find any information on the relationship between deer and dog psychology, because there is an abundance of information on dog psychology. Almost everything I have learned from dog psychology carries over to deer as far as I can tell. Like I said in another post I was able to tame and train a wild piglet using basic principles of dog rehabilitation, it was no different than training a puppy and I imagine a fawn would be the same way.

Like JPH said, unless you own a large tract of land all of this is pretty pointless. But I still find it fascinating. Funny you bring up anthropomorphism because that is the main reason that people have problems training dogs, dogs don't speak english(or any other language), they speak dog, which is body language, touch, scent, eye contact and tone. If you understand how to use these things and how dogs use these to communicate you can teach any dog to do anything pretty much.

The best way to make any animal feel comfortable with your presence is to ignore them until they ignore you. Once they have accepted your presence(this may take days, weeks, months) you can do something positive to gain their trust, such as feeding them.

A couple weeks ago I had a doe feed up to me right at the end of shooting light, the mosquitoes are pretty bad so I stood up and packed up while she was 20 yards from me. I glanced with my peripheral and saw her on alert. I kept my back to her, didn't make any sudden movements, then slowly and calmly started to walk away from her, i was in the wide open and on some crunchy leaves. After i went about 20 yards I could not believe that I hadn't heard her run or blow at me. I stopped and took a slow glance over my shoulder expecting her to be on full alert still, she was feeding not paying any attention to me whatsoever. I turned and kept slowly walking away.

Now had I stood up, stared at her and excitedly reached for my gun I am more than certain she would have bolted.
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RE: Scent Control Revisited

Postby JPH » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:46 pm

The geek in me never gets tired of this topic, so here's another scent question to ponder. What about wood smoke?

When I am hunting from my house, I stay very "clean". I always shower just before I leave and I do not dress in my hunting clothes until right before I head to the stand. But when I am hunting out of my little cabin, it is another story. Things are primitive and the quarters are tight. All my heat comes from an old barrel stove. If I get my gear wet, it comes into the cabin to dry out. After a day or two, I have wood smoke in every pore and hair follicle on my body, and some of my clothing smells pretty smoky too. There is just no way to avoid it.

 The thing is, my cabin is in Amish country. There is always a smell of wood smoke in the air. I assume the deer are quite used to that odor. What I have always wondered is, can deer figure out the difference between wood smoke trapped on a hunter and wood smoke drifting from a chimney? If they cannot, wood smoke might be the most effective cover scent a hunter can use!

Thoughts?

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