Clean Up Your Act | Great Days Outdoors

The hunter’s main objective is outsmarting the nose of a deer.


In the world of humans, odors or scents have a certain effect on our attitudes and reactions. The aroma of bacon frying over an open campfire or a pot of java brewing signals breakfast is on the way. The fragrance of a perfume or cologne can arouse our senses. Certain aromatic odors can evoke memories from our past. The redolence of fresh-cut grass or the freshness of the air after a summer rain takes us back to former days.


Body odor alarms deer

However, certain odors can be repelling and downright offensive to some folks. We shower with fragrance-added soaps and apply deodorant along with other products to control foul odors. No matter how clean we think we are or how much we wash our bodies and clothes, to a deer we still stink. It’s time deer hunters clean up their act.


Human scent is alarming to deer. Though we attempt to clean our bodies, we continue to emit odors. Perspiration through the pores of our skin is a major source of our foul-smelling scent. Another is any place on our bodies where skin meets skin, like underarms that transude odor. An old-timer once told me, “If skin touches skin, wash it good.”

While we cannot totally eliminate our scent, we can minimize it and/or cover it up.


Body wash

“Several companies make soap and shampoo that helps eliminate and control human body odor,” advises Jim Morris of Weaver, Ala. “Keeping your body clean is the first step to being successful for bowhunting deer.”

Products like Scent Away and Scent Shield offer various types of body soaps, sprays, laundry detergent and scent-free wipes for deer hunters.

Bathing with these special soaps helps clean the hunter’s skin and hair. It washes away many of the odors that our body releases, plus others we come in contact with. Mouthwash and toothpaste can cover up bad breath.


Serious hunters avoid using any type of fragrance-enhanced soap or shampoo anytime during the hunting season. The perfumes and sweet-smelling additives can accumulate with daily use. Even washing in scent-free soaps may not remove all of the foul fragrances that can easily reach a deer’s nose.

Deer hunters must always be aware of odors emitted plus odors left behind from foods. Coffee, tea and soft drinks all leave a scent that can be detected by deer. Food odors are easily absorbed into clothing and hair. Bowhunters especially should avoid wearing their hunting garb into a restaurant or gas station before a hunt.

Our hands are another method we can transfer foul odors to our hunting gear. We grab door knobs, car handles, food and other items that transfer scent to our hands. If not cautious, hunters can then spread those scents to bow, binoculars, calls and shooting release. Using a scent eliminator such as Handi Wipe before touching any gear is a smart idea to avoid carrying bad odors to the deer stand.


Wash cycles

As humans, we underestimate how many different odors cling to our clothing. Scent molecules are easily captured in our garments. These odors are not detectable by the weak olfactory system in humans. However, a deer’s nose is what leads him around. Outsmarting the nose of a deer is the hunter’s main objective.

“After I have washed my hunting clothes in scent-free wash, I hang them outside to dry and away from anything unnatural,” comments Brad Stone of Munford, Ala. “After the clothes are dry, I seal them in a large plastic bag. I don’t take them out till I’m at my deer stand.”

This may seem like a lot of extra work, but if you are pursuing big bucks, it will pay off. To keep their clothes fresh before a hunt, bowhunters can use trash bags—unscented of course—plastic storage containers, or specialized gear bags designed to keep foul odors out. Hunters may want to carry the bag to the stand before donning the outer hunting garments.

Deer hunters should avoid washing their hunting clothes in the same washing machine used for the family laundry. Regular detergents have added fragrances that can linger in the washer and dryer.

Hunters can use a large plastic storage container to hand-wash their hunting clothes and prevent any unwanted scent. Rinse the clothes in clean water and allow to dry outdoors.

After the clothing is dry, use a scent eliminator spray on all clothing and seal them in a container. Wash and clean every piece of clothing to be worn during the hunt. This includes hats, gloves, facemask, camo T-shirts, socks and even underwear. Go to the extra effort and take no chances on foul odors.



Bowhunters can apply different tactics to assist in keeping odors off clothes and also help cover up any unwanted scent. Hunters should avoid wearing their hunting clothes out in public. When the hunt is completed, pack the clothes back in the container. Once back at home or camp, repeat the washing process.

A quality pair of rubber boots will not leave any scent from the hunter while walking to his stand. New boots may have some slight rubber odor but a little washing with scent eliminator soap will solve the problem. Also, it’s a good idea to take a walk in the new boots before hunting season.

“I break up a few pine needles and place them in the bag with my hunting clothes,” Stone explains. “This helps to add a little cover scent.”

Deer hunters can break off a few pine limbs and brush them over their clothes and boots before walking to their stand. After reaching the stand, do not place your bow or pack on the ground. This can leave scent on the ground at nose level to a deer. Hang your bow, clothes and other gear on the stand or a rope tied off to the tree when you place the stand before deer season.

“During warm weather, I like to carry some extra clothes to the stand,” Morris advises. “Once in the stand, I change my clothes.”

Manufactures of scent control products are releasing new stuff every season. Enhanced odor eliminating sprays, washes and clothing are available to assist deer hunters in staying scent-free. The new silver ion clothing was developed by NASA for use by astronauts on space missions. The clothing is designed to pick up body odors and keep them in check.

Deer are guided by their noses. Scents and odors direct their every step. If deer hunters will clean up their act, the chance of a buck stepping into bow range will greatly increase.


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