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Scent Control and Spot and Stalk:
By now most hunters know the importance of scent control while hunting from a stationary position but not many think to utilize it for spot and stalk type hunts. The school of thought is you are hiking and sweating more and you are playing the wind to reach your prey, so why bother…. Although this is partially true….yes you are sweating more and yes you will be playing the wind…but scent control can be your ace in the hole…
I was fortunate to head up a team of researchers who did a 6 year study on scent control and you would be surprised on the information we were able to amass…but keeping to the topic at hand simply put scent control is very important all the time in any hunting situation…
Why? Well the long and short of it is… you cannot control the wind, you can only hope to come up with and educated guess as to what it is doing…. How many times have you busted your butt to get into range of a bedded buck and all of a sudden you start to feel a cool breeze on the back of your neck and 5 secs later your are watching a white rump bouncing away… It happens all the time… Deer position themselves often in spot where the wind swirls or covers them in multiple directions…
Well I’m here to tell you…that you can minimize this by a large percentage. I have been upwind of many deer and elk during our research in situations that would leave you amazed.
A couple of quick basics before we look at what I do based on my research….Like I said earlier yes when you are hiking you are sweeting, however a misconception is that sweat is body odor.. Sweat merely creates a prime environment for bacteria to grow that causes body odor. Well even that statement is not entirely correct. Sweat can smell if you are eating aromatic foods, or have a lot of toxins in your body, or if you are chronically dehydrated. But this can all be avoided by avoiding foods like garlic, onions, drinking alcohol, coffee and curry and eating lots of leafy greens high in chlorophyll. Simplified If you start with a clean inside your outside will be better off.
Back to the lecture at hand… you are taking care of your insides but you are still gonna sweat no matter what you do if your hiking… And you cannot eliminate 100% of your odor but what you can do is get it down to a level that can still give you an opportunity to make a shot. Deer, Elk and most game perceive odors in levels.. what do I mean by this? Based on their personal experience, how strong an odor is determines how great the threat is in so many words. So they may smell you 50 yards out but because the odor is so “detuned” they may believe you are 200-300 yards away become alerted but not bust out. Or it may be perceived as a human was here several hours ago but the coast is clear now… often when they reach this state they will be looking for a second sensorial confirmation like seeing movement or hearing you…Either way you are still giving yourself more of an opportunity to strike… Especially if they look for that other confirmation and after a while don’t get it and go back to doing what they were before..
So what do we do to minimize our odor footprint …?
1) We wear a new set of camo for each day and if can for each hunt…This especially includes your hat….There have been many times when I’m only hunting 3-4 days when I bring 8 sets of camo so I can change and bathe before I go out each morning and each afternoon. Nothing breads bacteria then sweaty dirty camo… I don’t care if you have a carbon space suit nothing is better than a scent free set of clean camo.
2) Bathe as frequently as you possibly can. Even though it may not be that easy in the field. Use soaps that contain bactericides. Pay special attention to scent zones: behind the ears, crotch, arm pits, head and back
3) A clean mouth is imperative, floss daily, and brush twice a day but a little trick chew spearmint gum (it doesn’t seem to spook deer or elk) and breathe through your nose while on stalk
4) Stay away from environmental odors that can permeate your camo (gas, fire, food, exhaust, etc)
5) Use topographical bactericides that will continue to work in the field as the day progresses like No Stinky scent eliminating lotion. ( 1 part rubbing alcohol in a little spray bottle mixed with 5 parts water work well towel off with a paper towel )
These are just a few things you can do….There are so many things you can do to minimize your scent footprint that I could write a book on it well actually I kinda have ….
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