5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Scent Control for Better Hunting

Less Could Help You Be A More Successful Hunter

Successful hunting is often a matter of controlling the variables as much as possible. You work at becoming a better shot to lower the chances of missing, you research deer trails to increase the chance of finding them, and you do everything in your power to keep your hunting clothes as odorless as possible. Or at least you should. An often cited fact about the whitetail deer’s sense of smell is that they have nearly 300 million olfactory senses. For the hunter who hasn’t put much thought into scent control, here are a few easy tips.

Keep Your Hunting Clothes Fresh

White tail deer have a great sense of smell

Photo by Larry Smith

That means keeping them out of the kitchen and away from gas stations right before the hunt as a bare minimum. Make sure you fill your truck up well in advance, and don’t definitely change after eating your breakfast. A lot of hunters are under the impression they can just coat themselves in a bunch of spray to overpower other scents. The thing is, thanks to the Joshua organ and the large portion of their brain dedicated to smell, a deer’s sense of smell is highly sophisticated and they can pick out several distinct smells from a single source.

If you’re really serious you won’t even let your hunting clothes stay in the house after you wash them. Keep them in a bin with a vacuum sealed bag in your truck and change into them when you’re out on the lamb and ready to start tracking. It should go without saying that your hunting boots are included in this, but their actually a pretty easy detail to forget. While you can’t wash them like your other clothes, you can at least spray them down, and avoid wearing them around town. The more strictly you can keep your boots to hunting ground the better.

Get Obsessive about Gear Storage

Sealed container for hunting clothes

This might sound a little over the top at first, but once you set up a good storage container for your hunting gear it makes this aspect of scent control a lot simpler. Get a good, airtight container. An ice chest will work fine so long as it has a rubber seal. Only use that container for your hunting clothes to make sure that any odor in it is from the clothes you wear out in the bush. You can wash it out with water and baking soda if it has that weird “new from the store” smell, but aside from that, just leave it alone.

You can take it a step further and crumble leaves, dirt, or grass into it from your usual hunting grounds, but your clothes are going to pick up that scent pretty quick once you start stepping through dirt, and there’s not a whole lot of consensus on how much crumpling leaves in with your clothes works anyway.

Watch What and When You Eat

Some foods are better for scent control than others

Photo by Jason Ippolito

If you can smell something on someone’s breath, you better count on a deer being able to smell it on you from at least a quarter mile away. Things like alcohol, garlic, and heavily fried foods are going to be a liability if consumed less than a day before the hunt.

This is gonna sound like a bad diet, but cut down on the red meat and fries before a hunt, and try to keep to mostly fruits, vegetables, and nuts. And especially be careful of what you bring to eat on the hunt. Dried foods like jerky and nuts are probably the best options. Also, make sure you’re drinking at least a gallon of water a day about a week before the hunt, as this keeps your system clean and cuts down on the odor of your body waste (you should be drinking that much anyway, but we’re not here to tell you how to live your life)

Remember, you’re going to be moving around a lot out there, so your body odor will become more of a factor as you start to sweat. Deer are going to pick up on pretty much anything odd in your scent, so the more “natural” you smell to deer, the better.

Use Strong, Scent-Free Laundry Detergent

Use Strong, Scent-Free Laundry Detergent

There are a lot of detergents out there for hunters that claim to make you less visible by not using “UV brighteners,” or to not only completely remove your human scent but replace it with something more agreeable to game. The science on brighteners is debatable, and “complete” scent removal is… not really a thing. But it’s definitely important to find an unscented detergent with a kick.

When it comes to laundry detergent, the surest thing is to find something strong and odorless, without any unnecessary additives. You can find a lot of these kinds of detergents at your grocery store, however many of them use bleach, so if you wear camouflage you’d be putting the color of your fatigues at risk.

One of the best solutions here is something like Hog Farm Laundry Soap. It’s an industrial grade detergent that uses an enzyme solution to remove odor and is completely color safe. It was originally made to remove the smell of pig manure off of farmer’s coveralls, so it has a pretty potent solution, as you can imagine. You won’t find many things that will remove more organic material. Scent elimination might be impossible, but Hog Farm Laundry Soap is about as close as you’ll get to scent reduction.

Scent Control is No Substitute for Hunting Skill, but It Helps

A young woman using a dead tree to brace her hunting rifle

Photo by Lwp Kommunikáció

No one can tell you that finding the best laundry soap for hunting clothes will guarantee you’ll bag a 10 point buck. The best way to get that is to learn how to track, shoot, and read the wind, and those are skills that take time and experience to develop. But there’s still a lot to be said for learning how to optimize your hunting gear so it at least doesn’t get in the way of the skills you already have. Proper scent control on you and your clothes is probably one of the most helpful but looked over ways of improving your hunting game.