The Smell Test

November 3, 2017

You stink. And once you come to accept that, you’ll start having more success in the deer woods.

There are a lot of hunters out there today who fully realize how sensitive a deer’s nose is but don’t understand how that nose is used against them. Yes, a deer can smell you from a long ways off if he’s in front of you and the wind is hitting you in the back of the head. But he also sticks his nose on every weed, twig, and leaf that’s sticking out in the trail as he walks along, testing for the scent of passerby and food sources.

If you have scent-absorbing clothes on but wear a short sleeve shirt and let your arm rub a branch on the way in, he’ll know it. If you have your scent-free boots on but stopped at the gas station for a coffee on the way in, he’ll know it. A while back, I watched another hunter walking an old railroad grade to get to his stand. An hour later, I saw three deer coming down the railroad grade, not particularly alert. But when they got to the place where the hunter had entered the grade, they suddenly turned inside out leaving that area! The guy never saw or heard the deer. I told him about it later, and he said maybe he got something on his boots at the gas station. Ever look down at the gas station? The concrete is stained with oils and fuels of all kinds. Not a place for hunting boots.

Keep using your scent-eliminating spray and clothes, but remember your skin is loaded with oils that we can’t smell but deer can. Don’t let bare skin touch anything in the woods, and you’ll have a better chance that a good buck will wander into shooting range rather than exiting the area without you knowing he was even there.

- Barry Smith