One of the most important things to remember during your deer, rabbit, or squirrel hunt outing is scent control. It's important to keep the forest smelling like the forest. Everyone knows the sense of smell of a deer is keen. They can smell you long before they see you, that fancy gear and camo you just bought isn't even in the equation if your flooding the field with the smell of hotdogs, cigarettes and gasoline from the car die over. Heres some things you can do to take your scent off the table and up your chances of making a quality harvest this season. Let's start with the night before.
Don't shower... the morning of your hunt. I know that the shower in the morning is part of the waking ceremony for some folks but X this one off your hunting morning routine. The ingredients in many of the shampoos and conditioners are made for the majority; that majority likes pleasantly scented synthetic fragrances. Animals don't like this. Remember anything weird triggers the "I'm outta here response" in your respective game specie.
BUT... You could shower with un-scented soaps. You can find them in wally world from time to time or just order them online. This is a great alternative and it removes whatever scent you were unknowingly carrying on your body. If your really cheap or just into making stuff then you can actually make your own unscented soap pretty easily. (I think I'll tackle this how-to in another post)
Is an unscented shower better than no shower at all? After all we do have natural body odors and scents that are all natural right?
That's a yes and no answer. You carry pheromones (airborne chemical hormone messengers that propagate from mainly your pits and feet. Also you need to add sweat into the equation. How sweaty were you the day before? Even though every organism sweats to some extent your sweat is laced with whatever you ingested. Unknown to you some of the chemicals you ingested make their way through your blood stream and are filtered out by your kidneys.
Example? Drink too much last night? Ever smelled the guy you has? If you can pick up on it imagine what that burly buck will think...
Here comes the next point...
Since what you eat shows up literally in your scent, help yourself out and eat right. But what to eat? How about what to not eat.
Stay away from anything too full of sugars, just think healthy stuff. Greens, nuts and seeds, berries, corn and please stay away from anything that may cause too much flatuation; don't think that one needs explanation. And besides if you eat a diet full of stuff that is local to the animals your after then all the better. If your scent does show up you want it laced with attractive scents like corn, beets, nuts and berries. Ease back on the proteins and green it up for two days prior to your next hunt, it takes between 16 and 24 hours for you to pass the food. A little over the top on scent here but is there really a top when it comes to scent?
Choosing your layers
When it comes to choosing layers the first thought many ponder is warmth, being warm is important, not sweating but still comfortably warm. But how much have you thought about scent holding? The double edged sword is usually those thick cotton layers that keep you warm also are known for holding tremendous amounts of scent. There's not an easy way to get around it. Wash your clothes with either unscented detergent or baking soda. You can find countless ways to get this done online. Also remember to wash everything your going to where all the way down to the underwear and socks. This should help get rid of the scents hitching a ride on your clothing.
Also you have a choice to make with your boots, rubber or cloth thinsulate? Even being aware of my scent I personally choose my Wal-Mart thinsulate boots most of the time, but the rubber boots, though lacking in the insulation department, absolutely shed off scent. Depending on how warm it is I'll go with rubber boots if my toes can survive with only a couple layers of good socks. If that's the case, go for it.
One the best and cheapest scent masking habits I've started is storing my gear with natural substances. In short I grab a couple good helpings of dirt and place them in a large black contractor bag. I then rig this bag around the hanger my thick coat and pants are stored upon. Throughout the day and night my outermost layers are trapped in a dirt gas chamber. Try this out and see if those close come out smelling like dirt. In a good scent-invisible hunter kind of way.
Don't put your coat and pants on until you park.
Leave the clothes in the black bag until you pull into your spot. I pull up with my long johns on and the first thing I do is pop the trunk and put on my scent masked and cleaned pants. Doing so decreases the amount of car scents that have contact with your gear. Don't even put your coat on until you've grabbed everything you need out of your car.
Chase the wind
Always be aware of the wind. When selecting your strategy for whatever your hunting, first thought should be cover, animal resources, and wind. It's obviously important to blend into the environment. Use the wind to mask your scent and sound on your way in. If your hunting that bedding area and have the natural funnel staked out, go in from a direction so that the wind does't carry your sent in before you show up. Also remember the high ground for in and out travel is a great way to get your scent out of nostril reach of your prey. I love to stalk the ridges for this very reason (and cover...and field of view). The point is simple. Try to keep it part of your game plan, it's easy to get caught up on how to position your overalls or visioning that buck finally showing up; before any of that can go down that monster buck has to not smell you first.
This doesn't taste good
I'm really not sure if this helps or not but I do it, I think more so for good luck: but still it makes sense. Grab some vegetation and chew on it. I've chewed pine needles, englishmen's foot (also called white man's foot), grasses, maple leaves (those aren't bad), and various others just to mask the scent of my breath. I should probably note that it's a good idea to be able to identify poison ivy if you start this habit, don't want to find out your allergic to it this way...
Air out your spot
Try not to walk around and stench up your hunting spots. Your scent will linger for around 3 or 4 days after you move through the area. Remember moist air will hold scent closer to ground. Areas blocked from wind and sun will keep residual scent held for much longer time spans. This means if you have to walk through the active deer run then you should do so in barer spots with less vegetation and thorns. You don't want a piece of thread latched onto a thorn bush driving out the game that often makes use of that run. Scout but leave yourself a 3 or 4 day window to air the place out.
The important ones
I may go a little overboard on my scent "ritual" but maybe you can pick up on just a couple of the important points. I hope anything I've type in can help improve the amount of activity you get out of your stand.
Or if you have the cash: just go buy your scent spray.