Sure, we can have a sane discussion, but there is a lot, and I mean A LOT, of insane thinking going on with this subject.
Last year after the Scent-Lok decision came down, I was really hoping we would all stand back a bit and start thinking of the broader implications. Here we'd had nearly an entire generation of hunters running around in glorified rain suits thinking they were invisible to deer and lo and behold we found out the technology was fraudulent. What that meant to me was that if scent moderation technology was fraudulent and nobody noticed-- that scent control really did not make all THAT much difference.
Y'all can jump on me and say that just because Scent-Lok was a fraud, it doesn't mean the other stuff is. Sure, but I think a saner approach should be this: look at all the goofy stuff we've done to control an invisible problem. Maybe, just Maaaaaybe it didn't make all that much difference in the first place.
Y'all have probably read my baking soda rants. Y'all have probably read my UV rants, and my Anti-Telepathy rants. In 30 years of deer hunting, I've taken deer from every conceivable direction -- upwind, downwind, crosswind. I've done it with all reasonable technologies. I've done it from the ground, from blinds, from trees. In that 30 years, I've been busted a lot. Usually its been because I moved at an inappropriate time. Sure scent played a part, but once I started bathing regularly and using baking soda most of the scent busting went away-- that was 25 years ago.
I reached the height of my scent-consciousness obsession over a decade ago. After that, I decided it was just too much trouble and started to gradually slacken my ritual, looking for what really works and what is just superstition.
What I've found that works:
1) A daily shower with unscented products and a baking soda rinse.
2) A twice-daily change of clothing
3) Washing all clothes in baking soda, air drying outdoors, and packing them in baking soda
4) Packing dry clean-only clothing in baking soda between hunts.
There's a lot more subtlety to it. If you're interested, here's something from my weblog that explains it in more detail:Baking Soda: The shamanic Method
No commercial preparation I've tried has given me any better results. Some products like cover scents have been downright counter-productive.
My outermost layer is a matched quad-parka and bibs with a Remington label that I got on sale at Walmart in 2002. They have never seen the inside of a washing machine. They have never been cleaned. They have never been treated with anything except baking soda. Deer regularly walk under my stand all season and seem to be oblivious to me.
But please don't get me wrong. I'm not going to say all this fuss I go through with the baking soda is all that effective. It's just the last remnant of what I used to do to stay scent-free that seems to make sense. I just can't fully let go. An 80 lb bag of sodium bicarbonate lasts me for a few years and it is far cheaper than any laundry detergent or personal hygiene product I can find. I can do my clothes, my hair, my pits, and all the rest for probably under $.25 a day -- I can even brush my teeth with it. If nothing else, baking soda is cheap.
The fact of the matter is that I've gone further in my experimentation. I've worn my dirty Carharts, the ones I use for chores, out hunting. They seem to work nearly as well, except I'm a little quicker to get a bust on the downwind side. I can still get a deer in them. I wouldn't recommend it for bow hunting, but I'm just saying. The biggest thing seems to be keeping down the pit stink, and eschewing all scented toiletry products.
We can all be so blind to what is largely superstition here. On the one hand, we'll go out and buy a $300 scent suit. And yet not really think about how we can smell the scent suit ourselves. We go and buy an $80 pair of rubber boots so we can be invisible to deer and never seem to notice they reek of naptha. I got news for you: I have had my current pair of LaCrosse Bowhunter boots for over 20 years: that naptha stink never goes away. Some of us put on our whole scent-reduced kit and then ride out on our $8000 ATV's. Yikes! I don't know about you, but I can smell an ATV. I got to thinking about that 25 years ago, when i was up in my stand and I had my leather shooting glove and leather arm protector, and wondered: I can smell the leather, why not the deer?
I'm not going to throw stone. You want to talk insanity? I was out the first few years, smoking cherry Cavendish tobacco in a pipe on the stand, thinking that was the way to attract deer. I had my Jon-E hand-warmer with the special scent reservoir that got loaded up with Jon-E scent ( I think it was just Anise Oil), and all this stuff had been scientriffically tested and I knew it worked. It was all right there in the Ad in the magazine. I had skunk pee, fox pee, apple stink, grape stink and acorn stink all in my kit. I even had something that smelled like an old Indian-- said so right on the bottle.