Most hunting-related scent products are designed to eliminate human odors. Four scent categories include: masking, odor-adsorbing, odor-eliminating, and oxidizing. Each has advantages, disadvantages, and preferred applications.
Masking scents are most misunderstood. Covering one scent with another is a poor approach to odor management. Game possess olfactory senses many thousands times better than humans. Dousing oneself with masking scents means game animals simply smell you and the cover scent.
Odor-adsorbing products are better solution, but after active ingredients (baking soda, activated carbon, Abscents crystals/powder) reach carrying capacity they will adsorb no more. They’re certainly effective but require frequent recharging.
Odor-eliminating or oxidizing products prove most effective on a wider variety of odor sources and have become the industry standard. Active ingredients chemically neutralize or oxidize odors. In the first case key chemicals react with odor molecules to turn them into inert, odorless compounds. Oxidizers quickly accelerate the break-down of odor compounds to make them disappear.
Unlike masking or odor-eliminating scent-control products designed to camouflage game-spooking odors, bowhunting lures are meant to attract attention. These contain urine, glands, or hormones to arouse sexual interest from game. Some also contain “curiosity” agents that many deer feel inclined to investigate. The latter are used for early seasons preceding the rut.
In general, game lures, like “doe-in-heat concoctions, are most effective during rut periods when males seek female companionship. Many over-zealous bowhunters dump entire bottles of lure around stand sites hoping to attract full-out charges from love-crazed bucks. It could happen, but it is highly unlikely.
Effective approaches to sex-lure attractants include creating drag-lines to bring trailing bucks within range and placing scent pods to stop animals in desired shooting lanes. Regarding drag-lines, take care to assure that your human scent doesn’t mix with the scent line. Tie a clean length of cord to a long switch, a wick, or clean cloth saturated with lure attached to the end. Hold the branch at arm’s length. This distance, plus the added reach of the switch, will help leave your drag-lines free of human scent. If you know that your boots are completely scent-free, you can apply lure scent to your boot soles and trail in.
Create a multitude of drag-lines around stand sites. Each line vectoring toward your stand can help bring a rutting whitetail buck in for a closer shot. Too, by paying attention to wind direction, you might actually be able direct animals away from your downwind quarter and avoid being winded.
Using scents or lures to stop or distract animals is also effective. Place scent-charged wicks or scent pods upwind of your position to create standing shots at preoccupied animals. Placing scent pods behind stumps, tree trunks, or rocks might also stop deer while also blocking their vision, allowing you a chance to draw your bow undetected.
Scents of all kinds can prove to be highly effective tools to regular bowhunting success. Use today’s array of scents to disguise your own scent, to better position animals for the shot, but do so wisely. Avoid desperate measures and always, always watch that wind to prevent educating animals in your hunting area—or sending them into retreat at the moment of truth.