Are you hard-core? A lukewarm believer? A skeptic? No, I didn’t steal these questions from my preacher. In fact, these are the three categories, after years of spit-balling about the subject with bowhunters, that I separate stick-and-string goers into when it comes to scent control.
The hard-core crowd goes above and beyond. They research new scent-eliminating technologies and have a definitive procedure they follow every time they go afield. Some even – and I’m not joking here – have a separate bank account they stash money into throughout the course of the year so they can spring for the latest and greatest scent-elimination products each fall.
Those with lukewarm scent personalities may don scent-control apparel from time to time and mist themselves in odor-eliminating spray before heading into the woods, but that’s about as far as this group takes it.
The skeptics, well, the name says it all. No scent-control clothing or scent-eliminating showers. No watching what they eat or dowsing themselves in – as one hunter put it last fall – “snake oil in a spray bottle.”
Regardless of what group you fit into – what role scent-eliminating products play or don’t play in your fall hunting arsenal – it’s my belief you’ll find the following information very beneficial. I polled three accomplished bowhunters, all of whom work for different companies in the outdoor industry. What do they have in common? All work for top-end manufacturers – manufacturers who pay ultra-serious attention to scent elimination. Even you skeptics may have a change of heart after reading this, and you lukewarmers may cross the “hard-core” line.
ScentBlocker Marketing Director Mike Swan noted that scent control is a strategy that must be followed from beginning to end. Swan said that by passing any particular step means bowhunters significantly reduce the collective benefit of the strategy as a whole.
“It all starts with personal body care,” Swan said. “Using ScentBlocker body care products such as shampoo and body wash in advance of the hunt will cleanse your body of perfumes and odors. I shower before each and every hunt. Doing this helps eliminate food, fuel, smoke, new car smell and the like that cling to your body and hair. When talking to those skeptics out there, this is the step they commonly ignore, and it’s a step that simply can’t be overlooked if you expect to fly under a buck’s olfactory system.
“To get the most out of your ScentBlocker apparel, you should properly wash and dry your gear with Trinity detergent to remove odors collected during the manufacturing process, at the retail shop and those you’ll collect while afield. Go the extra mile and run an empty wash load or toss a couple of bath towels in the washer along with some ScentBlocker laundry detergent. Running a blank load or a load with a few towels helps eliminate any fragranced detergent residue.
“When it comes to actual in-the-field use and storage of my carefully prepared apparel, I disregard trash bags and duffel bags. Neither block out odors. In fact, these items often contain the odor of plastic and other chemicals. I use ScentBlocker compression bags, which are inexpensive, work great and compress my gear down for travel.
“When walking to and from my stand I dress in ScentBlocker treated shirts and pants and, cold or not, dress in my actual hunting garments at or very close to my stand. I lay a piece of carpet down on the ground and gear up, starting with my chosen ScentBlocker base layer garments, which contain Silver Anti-Microbial in the actual thread to better prevent odor formation.”
SCENTLOK’s Alex Gyllstrom is a die-hard whitetail fanatic and chases lots of big bucks on public land each year. Here are a few sound, tried-and-true “Gyllstrom” stay-scent-free tips.
“SCENTLOK’s Carbon Alloy is always adsorbing; there’s no switch to turn it on or off,” he said. “In order to maintain its effectiveness between reactivation cycles in the dryer, proper storage is a must. The best way to store SCENTLOK clothing is to keep odors from ever getting to it by placing garments in totes, bags and/or containers that are as airtight as possible. For the best one-two punch we recommend using one of our replaceable carbon mats in your storage tote or bag. The carbon mat will adsorb any odor molecules that make it into your storage container.
“One of the common misconceptions about SCENTLOK garments is in order for them to last and for the Carbon Technology to be clean, they must be washed regularly. Washing SCENTLOK clothing only cleans the fabric, not the technology. The only way to truly clean or recharge SCENTLOK garments to ensure their longevity and the adsorption abilities of our Carbon Alloy is to reactivate them in the dryer. Hunters only need to wash their SCENTLOK garments one or two times per season or when they are, like we say, ‘muddy or bloody.’
“I try to strategize my hunt from start to finish from a scent-control standpoint. I hunt a fair amount of public land, which usually means two things: long walks to get where other hunters don’t want to go and pressured deer. When hunting public ground a good scent-control regimen is crucial. I almost always wear a single BaseSlayer to get to my setup; this keeps heat down and sweat to a minimum. For added insurance I will take a fresh reactivated BaseSlayer in a freezer Ziploc bag and change once I get to my spot before layering up and climbing into my tree. I also keep scent-free wipes in my pack to wipe down all of my scent hot-zones like my face, hair and underarms. I also carry an extra airtight storage bag which I label ‘reactivate’ where I put any clothing that is no longer fresh and needs to be reactivated after my trip.”
No doubt some sound advice from a pair of savvy Midwest whitetail fanatics, but what about those who chase horn out West? How do bowhunters who slither across the plains, conquer canyons and trample over mountains keep human odor under control? Hard-core western hunter and member of Under Armour’s marketing team Koby Fulks had this advice:
“Let me save you the suspense and tell you western bowhunters that there is no scent-free tip. Rather, it’s about doing your best to manage your personal scent. For starters, don’t wear your hunting clothes until you actually start hunting. Don’t wear them on the hike in. Don’t wear them around camp. Don’t wear them if you have to run into town. Always have some spare clothes you can slip on whenever you’re not hunting.
“Depending on your activity level – extreme hiking versus sitting and glassing – dress in appropriate layers so you’re able to manage moisture easily. Keep warm layers in your pack until needed and remove them before hiking or moving so they will not absorb moisture from your body. The less odor-absorption pressure put on your apparel, the longer it will work for you.
“Finally, when hunting in the backcountry, use a stream and bio soap to wash clothing in the field whenever possible. Western air is dry, and performance apparel will dry quickly after a good wash. I will try to get four days out of a set of base layers when hunting the backcountry before scrubbing them down, and I always take advantage of natural cover scents like smoke from a campfire.”
Some real, true and applicable scent tips and tactics from three men who eat, sleep and breathe this topic. Put their advice into practice no matter where your bowhunting dreams take you. Just be sure to bring along an extra cooler for all the meat.