Most whitetail hunters engage in some level of scent control. In its most basic form, playing the wind is a strategy. And it’s a good one. But counting on the breeze to stay consistent while you’re on stand, and of course, assuming your deer will follow the script, is a gamble. Oftentimes, you’ll lose.
While passive methods of scent control (showering, washing clothes and using sprays) are helpful, an active method, using technology to completely cover your scent stream, is a far better way to fool a buck’s nose.
I grew up hunting the bluffs of southeastern Minnesota, where playing the wind was oftentimes a simple proposition. With its countless ridges and hillside benches, those timbered tracts along the Mississippi River allowed for stands along steep drop-offs. With the right wind, all of my deer-spooking scent would blow out into the void well over a valley, and consequently, well over any nearby deer.
Where I hunt in my home state these days, the terrain is much flatter. In fact, I can’t find a hill on most of the properties I roam. This means that it’s much easier for deer to get downwind of me, or to put it another way, much harder to plan stands in such a way that I most likely won’t get winded. This reality has forced me to plan a much better scent-control regimen. Here are some compelling reasons why active scent control is far more effective and why new technology that can work as both a cover-up and an attractant may be the ultimate solution to fooling a big buck’s incredible scent defenses.
Passive Scent Control
Most of the ways in which we try to keep ourselves stink-free involve a passive approach. For starters, a lot of deer hunters will take a shower in scent-free soap before their hunt. The problem with this is that you are producing scent constantly, so even though you may have less odor overall after a shower, you still stink to a deer. And every minute that passes after the shower, you smell even more. If you don’t believe that, take your best shower and then try to hide from a decent bird dog.
Of course, I don’t know anyone who hunts in the buff, so the next logical step is to consider our clothing. We tend to look at treating our clothing like we address our pre-hunt bodies. This means we toss our camo into the washing machine with a scoopful of scent-eliminating soap and then, after drying, stuff our duds into a duffel bag assuming that a scent-free cleansing was good enough.
Unfortunately, this process is ripe for contamination, and again, this strategy offers us a slight advantage at best. Assuming our clothing is not taking on scent in the dryer is a feel-good denial exercise, not-to-mention all of the opportunities for contamination when traveling between our homes and the woods.
Then, once we arrive at our hunting grounds, many of us will spray down with scent-eliminating sprays. At this point we’ve engaged in three separate acts of passive scent control (aside from playing the wind, of course). Does this work? Sort of. It’s probably better than nothing, but having spent a fair amount of time trying to beat a black Lab’s nose, I’m skeptical. Not skeptical enough to skip any of the steps, mind you, but skeptical that it’s actually working to a meaningful degree.
I’m not alone in that skepticism, which is why there are new approaches to scent control that are not passive, but active. The idea is that you either should be eliminating scent or covering it up constantly throughout your time on stand. It makes sense, but is only possible in a few ways.
Active Scent Control
“Scent control” is a blanket phrase that we use to describe trying to overcome the olfactory power of all deer, but it also comes in two forms. The first, as when using in-field ozone generators, attempts to eliminate our game-spooking scent. The second, involves covering up our scent with an overwhelming smell that the deer are used to.
Anyone interested in the latter, will want to check out Hunter’s Kloak and their new Electronic Mist System, all which actually serves two distinct purposes. The first is that it can be filled with an Earth Scent Concealment Mist Cartridge to cover up your scent by overwhelming a deer’s nose. Simply choose one of the four settings on the Mist System to mist every three, six, nine, or 30 seconds depending on how much wind you happen to be dealing with during your sit.
Four indicator lights on the front of the unit allow you to see which setting you’ve chosen and there is also a cartridge window built in so that you can see when things are running low and it’ll soon be time to swap out an empty cartridge for a full one. What this means is that while you’re sitting 17 feet up in a tree producing scent nonstop, the Electronic Mist System is intermittently producing a cover scent at desired intervals, which is a vastly different approach to dealing with scent than the passive options we’ve become comfortable with over the last three decades or so.
If you’re not interested in concealment but would like to draw in passing ungulates by appealing to the rumble in their stomachs, Hunter’s Kloak has you covered there as well. They offer Mist Cartridges in buck-attracting scents like Acorn, Apple and Sugar Beet to trick hungry deer into range.
Hunter’s Kloak comes with a charging cable that allows you to bring a dead unit back to full life after about five hours. Once charged, you’ll get anywhere from 5.5 to 45 hours of operation, depending on the mode that you choose. It’s also designed with a lanyard so that you can position it perfectly in your blind or in a treestand to take advantage of the prevailing wind direction.
When we didn’t have a choice, there was nothing wrong with solely engaging in a passive approach to scent control. These days, we have options, meaning that while it’s probably not a bad idea to go the passive route, a better idea would be to combine traditional passive methods with an active approach. This is the best way to ensure that when that once-per-season encounter happens with a 5.5-year old bruiser, he won’t tip his nose skyward before bolting out of your life with his tail waving goodbye.