Scent control or play the wind?
Millions of dollars have been spent on products by the hunting community to combat stink. Scent eliminators, diffusers, ozone machines, wafers, vanilla sprays, carbon suits, campfire smoke, cedar branches in the clothes bag, etc. You name it, someone has come up with something to try to fool a deer’s nose. However, is there an element out there that no one talks about that can aid you in your quest to be scent free? Let’s discuss that later.
If you have ever had a conversation or read a hunting forum in regards to scent control you will always hear this answer. Play the wind. Yes, I know, play the wind. Ok. yes for sure, you got it. End of conversation. Right? Well maybe for some. Guess who else plays the wind? The scent master himself (or herself) depends upon your goal for the day. They very seldom play the wind like you think they will.
Matter of fact, some of my best bucks came off of quartering winds. These are winds where your scent cone is coming extremely close to the predicted path you expect the deer to come from. In other words, it’s nice to know that you have a buffer in case things don’t go exactly as planned.
I have been experimenting with scents & scent elimination products for 30 plus years. Here are some of my personal observations. These are once again, my observations and not verbatim. Your opinion may differ and that’s totally fine.
Cover up scents. They are to cover your scent up….supposedly. My first attempt was to place pine branches in my tote with my hunting clothes. After a few sits, this made no difference in the ability to remain undetected from the olfactory center of a whitetail's nose. I then tried the cedar and fresh earth wafers with still the same results. My opinion is cover up scents are like trying to cover up a hot pepper with ice cream, chocolate and whatever else you want to throw on it. The pepper is still there and it will be detected by the taste buds. Same goes for the olfactory system.
As far as scent eliminators go, these I have a little more faith in. In my own experimentation the scent eliminator with silver in it was more effective than those without according to my own nose. Silver kills bacteria by blocking the respiratory system of the bacteria causing it to die. I now only use scent eliminators on my boots and sometimes on my clothes. However, for my clothes I primarily rely on Ozone.
Ozone is pretty powerful in it’s own right. Ozone is utilized in many applications in which good old fashion soap and water are not effective enough to rid a space of smell. For instance, home cleaning companies will use ozone to rid a room or house of a particular smell. Ozone contains 3 atoms, unlike O2 that contains 2 atoms. The extra atom attaches itself to the stink molecules, destroying them.
Activated carbon. I currently use Scent Lok which has activated carbon in their materials. I primarily purchase their products as I like the construction of their garments & not as much for their scent capturing qualities. However, from wearing ScentLok I can say that I have noticed a a difference as far as getting busted by deer. However, this could also have to do with having a disciplined scent control routine.
Let’s get to the original reason that this article came about and that is to help control your OWN scent by getting in shape. First, we need to realize what causes us to smell. We have apocrine glands and eccrine glands. Apocrine glands are associated with hair follicles and eccrine glands are those that regulate body temperature through sweating. These glands emit bacteria onto the surface of the skin. Sweating cools us down by placing fluid on our skin. When it evaporates it causes a cooling effect.
When this bacteria comes in contact with sweat, it breaks down the proteins in the sweat which causes this foul odor. Matter of fact, perspiration in itself does not have an odor. Perspiration is made up of sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium. People who are out of shape tend to lose more sodium when they sweat. Hence why some sports drinks, assuming that are not loaded with high fructose corn syrup, are good for you, especially to replace those electrolytes.
Does working out help reduce sweat and essentially odor? Well yes and no. Some people just tend to sweat more due to their DNA. However, if you are obese and very sedentary you may start to sweat just after a few minutes of a walk. That’s because your body has to work much harder to get yourself moving. Also, fat acts as an insulator. So it’s like walking around with a blanket on which causes you to sweat even more.
Another factor is that people who are into high endurance training sweat more easily. It’s because their body has become very efficient and their body knows that it needs to initiate the sweating component as it’s aware that a workout is coming. As you can tell, it’s hard to get away from the ability to control sweat which inhibits odor. Obese and lazy or super active we are going to sweat, which causes odor, which causes deer blowing and white flags waving.
Individuals who are in excellent shape as long as they don’t run to their stand location will be way better off, as far as staying away from over sweating. Over sweating leads to the smelly bacteria, which causes you to stink to a whitetail.
So what else can we do to help reduce sweat, odor and the like. First, sweating is a good thing. If we don't sweat, we over heat, burn up and may find ourselves taking a dirt nap. So don’t get some hair pin idea that if you don’t consume liquids or try to consume a ton of salt to prevent you from sweating that you would be doing yourself a favor because you would be doing quite the opposite. Let’s take a look at 5 ideas that will help you reduce your own smell.
Workout and lose weight - Your body will become more efficient and you won’t overheat producing unnecessary sweat.
Watch what you eat before you go in the woods - Stay away from spicy foods or foods that have strong natural odors like onion, garlic, asparagus, curry, etc.
Wear scent wicking clothes with a bacteria inhibitor. These scent wicking layers that are in contact with your skin can neutralize the odor as it moves away from your body due to the technology in these newer garments.
Use bacteria killing, scent free soaps and pay special attention to the areas where the apocrine glands (the glands that make the smelly bacteria) like armpits, groin, feet and forehead/hair.
Utilize activated carbon along with Ozone for your clothes. This combo from my experience has greatly improved my ability of not getting busted. It doesn’t mean your scent free, it just means you have less of a bad thing. And yes, ozone works.
Hopefully this article was thought provoking on how you view scent control. Remember it’s scent control and not scent elimination. Like baseball, your goal is to bat 1.000, however a .300 batting average earns you a nice little paycheck. You will never be perfect in either. However, if scent control has the same averages as baseball, I will take not being busted 3 out of 10 times than not at all.
Thank you for reading and good luck in the woods this fall! Be sure to follow on our Facebook page Oak & Iron Outdoors. ~ Clint Ward