Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts on Scents

I was busy photographing this young rutting buck when a stray gust of wind carried my scent directly to him.  Immediately he burst into flight; as did the dove trying to escape his pounding hooves.

Much is made of scent in the world of deer hunting, and indeed human scent can take a whitetail from relaxed to full speed in a split second.  Hunting magazines are full of articles extolling the virtues of the deer's sense of smell and the difficulties in overcoming this seemingly perfect defense mechanism.  As a matter of fact they will lead you by the hand straight to the retailers who sell products supposedly to overcome the deer's ability to scent the hunter.  Shelves full of masking scents, scent free soaps, detergents, and carbon scent blocking clothing and hunting blinds are ready for the buying.  Add in the scent attractants like apple, acorn, doe urine, etc. and you have a huge market generating a tremendous amount of economic activity each year.

Do they work?  Some swear by them while other swear at them.  To defeat the deer's sense of smell you only have to remember a few things.  First remember, you stink!  At least to a deer you do, and no amount of anything you can put on will cover it up.  The deer will simply smell whatever it was that you applied plus you.   The wind only blows one direction at a time and typically your scent will follow a narrow path as long as that path misses the deer the deer misses you.

I would be the last person to ignore the deer's nose but I do miss the scent section at the local sporting goods store.  Your local grocery store carries scent free laundry detergent, ivory soap is scent free as well and both much cheaper than those packaged for hunters.  And forget about dryer sheets, they all stink.  Wash your clothing in scent free detergent, use a pure soap like ivory, and go out and enjoy your hunt.  If a deer does scent you enjoy watching it's incredible grace as it flies through the air, or enjoy listening as it snorts and stomps and remember no matter what you could have spent on the latest scent lock gear and cover scents it would not have made the encounter any different.


Anonymous said...

Just to back up what you are saying, most people do not realize how much they stink up the area. Pipe, cigarettes, “mint” toothpaste, cologne (the worst offender in my case) all that stuff makes a human stink.

We keep a fragrance free home. No dryer sheets, no “Irish Spring” soap or any of that junk. As a result, in the summertime, I’ve been able to smell the bubblegum that the a girl was chewing in the car ahead of me going down the road at 35MPH.

Fragrances are made from coal tar, are particulates and irritants. I challenge anyone to live fragrance free for a month and see if you start noticing the difference in the environment. After a month, don’t be surprised if you start sneezing when your neighbor starts running their dryer and you smell Bounce polluting your space. I guarantee that you will not want to walk down the soap isle in the grocery store after this exercise.

Let’s not forget that our noses are there to not only let us enjoy the smell the roasting turkey today, but to provide us warning too! Rotted food, something burning, you get the idea. Artificial fragrances cause nasal fatigue and DULL YOUR PERCEPTIONS. As I said earlier, they are particles and irritants and hang out in the environment. Natural scents generally do not have these properties.

Sorry I got carried away. I’ll get off my unscented soap box now.

Coy Hill said...

Thanks Steve, and I totally agree with your opinion. We too live in a fragrance free home because of my wife's allergies and it is amazing just what you can smell on others. I can only imagine how strong we must smell like to a deer with their scenting abilities.