Smoke baths are a natural deodorant that kills the bacteria that generates odor on the human body. Smoke is also a natural odor, albeit a bit more obnoxious one that humans relate to danger — but this isn’t always the case for wildlife. While personal preference will dictate when and where it is effective, it has proven to be a legitimate way to cover your own scent while not spooking deer in a wide variety of situations. If your farm is surrounded by wood-burning houses and you hunt in close proximity, trying smoking your clothes and body before entering the woods. Deer are used to the smell of the smoke, so why not?

When people first hear about smoke baths, their first thought, as was mine, is how does making yourself smell act to cover your scent? A logical question, but honestly, what is the difference between using smoke and using a bottle of pine cover scent? A deer’s nose sensory glands are more receptive to smells than I believe any human can truly fathom. They can smell everything and anything, and any foreign smells are what they use as an alert trigger. While pine might be a common smell, do all pine trees smell the same to a deer, and does a scent with a “general forest” smell really sound like the rotting leaves and dirt of your particular hunting area? The answer to both of these questions is undeniably absolutely not. Masking your own odor with them doesn’t eliminate it, it just blends your stench with its more natural smell in hopes to cover it.

That is why a scent-free odor-eliminating spray is often a better choice, but also not foolproof. Sprays can’t get into all the nooks and crannies, and when you sweat underneath your clothing, can it really mask what is coming out of your sleeves and hat? This is where smoking your clothes comes in. Smoke will penetrate your clothing and actually remove bacteria from the skin, and while it might sound conflicting, provide a cover scent that sticks with you and is natural to nearly every populated area. And it works.