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May 23, 2007

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What Is That Funky Smell I Smell?

Now I am a simple fellow, uneducated in the ways of science, but I have a serious problem believing that scent-blocking clothing can make a difference while hunting. Since this is a blog, and not a place for a systematic argument, I can only offer some notes from my decades in the woods.

*The four best deer hunters I’ve ever known were all smokers. Two of them smoked cigarettes and absolutely reeked of it, while the third merely smelled. The pipe smoker smelled a little bit. It didn’t seem to matter. If there was a deer around, they’d get it.

*I’ve seen the same thing in such diverse places as Quebec, Alaska, and Africa. The people who reek the worst seem to get game anyway.

*On at least half a dozen occasions when I had been very far from soap and water for a number of days and did not smell like lilacs, I’ve had deer come within a dozen feet of me.

*Some people smell worse than others. I’ve walked into cabins and tents where it smelled like a troop of baboons had just left. How a little charcoal sprinkled in fabric would act as a barrier to that olfactory onslaught is beyond me. (One of the key abetters of body odor is all the supposedly odor-proof poly underwear that’s in use.)

Rather than spend money on stench-blocking clothing, you would do better to pay attention to the wind, be careful how you move, and don’t trip over stuff. Unglamorous, but it works.

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Comments

Michael

As P.T. Barnum once said, "There's one born every minute"
With the current craze of trophy deer hunting if Chanel said you could kill a B&C buck wearing their perfume, suckers would be lining up to buy it.

Ralph the Rifleman

I agree...use common sense hunting techniques, and I like using a "cover" scent; apple scented soap, or pine scented spray-even vanilla extract! Cheap, but effective.

Andre

The French have used this formula successfully for years. No bath, a Gauloise between the fingers and a healthy amount of confidence.

John

Did you guys hear about the drug dealers trying to smuggle dope in charcoal lined clothing? I'm kidding, but if it was really that good, drug dealers would indeed be using it on their shipments to get by the dogs!

Steve C

I assume F&S would never do an objective story on the effectiveness of this stuff. Perhaps Mythbusters will take it on some day.

Phillip

I've got a friend who trains search and rescue (recovery) dogs for law enforcement and rescue.

He's sent out inquiries to several of the scent prevention/blocking manufacturers asking if there is any interest in letting him try their stuff with his "students". So far, oddly enough, none have stepped up.

The marketing machine that drives all this crap is probably important to our free-enterprise system, but it sure annoys me how many people fall for some of the crap they're selling.

What really gets me, is when I fall for some of it too.

Mark

Yeah, I consider scent-proof clothing in the same category as snake oil. I also get a charge with big game hunters shunning blaze orange for the various colored camo. I understand most big game animals are color blind. Movement attracts their attention more than color.

Mike

I have tried with it, and tried without it, success is about the same. Acutally come to think of it, more success without the funny smelling charcoal suit. My buddy uses cherry flavored spit tobbacco in the stand, he does better than any of us, he claims it attracts the deer. I think it is because he keeps horses and smells like a horse most of the time!

Mike

I have tried with it, and tried without it, success is about the same. Acutally come to think of it, more success without the funny smelling charcoal suit. My buddy uses cherry flavored spit tobbacco in the stand, he does better than any of us, he claims it attracts the deer. I think it is because he keeps horses and smells like a horse most of the time!

Dr. Ralph

I have noticed that if you work up a sweat walking to your stand, you will never see deer. Now I get there earlier, take my time, and rub deer dung on my boots whenever I see it. The Native Americans were big on using smoke from their fires to cover their scent.

Buddy Hinton

We are Worker Cadres For Hillary. We demand free meds and French holidays along with 3 day workweek and six hour day with four hour overtime. You fat cats will pay and pay. Under Hillary, we will remove U.S. military elements from Iraq and re-deploy to Chile, where we will effect urgent reforms of chilean retirement system, returning to collectivist supertax like American Socialist Security System. ALL HAIL NEW DEAL FOR STRUGGLING CHILEAN WORKER MASSES! ALL HAIL HILLARY IN SOLIDARITY WITH CHAVES, CASTRO, AND ALL PEOPLES' REVOLUTIONAY HEROES! HOORAY!

Dr. Ralph

Now that I think about it, the largest deer any of my friends have ever shot was shot by someone who was walking through the woods smoking a cigar! This guy is incredible though... he will outfish you from the back of the boat every time. Never hunts in camo, just keeps his eyes open and becomes one with the surroundings.

Walt smith

Hey Buddy,what free meds are you on?

Clay Cooper

What gets me, I’ll spend hours even days cooking up a load for a dime size group and sight it in at 200 yards. Then some fella would come out to the range at 50 yards, place a paper plate up and if he gets close to middle that was good enough. Darn if he limits out every time he went out. Biggest rack or longest turkey beard! Doesn’t matter, noisy and smells like

T.Bertram

Move slow and keep your nose in the wind, bacon grease and pipe smoke work for me and my group.

KJ

Dr. Ralph,
I wonder if the reason you don't see deer after working up a sweat walking to your stand is that you start feeling the effects of hypothermia, and have difficulty sitting still? I ask this because I have found this to be a problem. Where I hunt it is almost always pretty cold during firearm deer season, and getting sweaty is the surest way to freeze sitting on a stand. I really don't think it has much to do with odor, but more to do with movement - at least in my case. I just can't sit still while shivering. I've learned to carry a day pack and not wear my heavy coat/bibs to the stand, stop frequently, and wait after getting on stand to put the coat on. Just a thought.

Chad Love

Wind? I laugh at your quaint, outdated notions of hunting! We doan need no stinking wind! Thanks to my $400 worth of charcoal-activated scent-atomizing clothing and matching accessories, I can fart in your or any deer's general direction...Dude, caring about wind direction is, like, so 20th Century...

Am I belaboring my point here? Did I even make a point? When it comes to gimmicks do you even need to make one, or is the gimmick's existence point enough?

Galen Burgett

Great comments. I myself have witnessed the same things others have posted here. I fell for the camo craze for a couple of years and then realized the best hunters I knew wore denim jackets, greasy old Stetson hats, and smelled more like horses than people. The number of consistently successful old timers that sat their stand or blind puffing merrily away on a pipe, is also brought to mind. In fact, if it wasn't so cold in the winters here, I'd hunt naked and not use toilet paper.

Dennis Smith

Technology cannot compensate for poor hunting skills. Woodsmanship, stealth and animal lore are at the core of this game, not gadgetry. Some years back I forsook blistering velocities, monstrous scopes, camo clothing, cover scents, etc., and returned to my roots: Wool clothing, lever guns with iron sights or low-powered scopes and playing the wind. Suddenly I felt like I was hunting again, and my freezer reflects the wisdom of returning to the basics.

3kidsdad

It is still my contention that being still and quiet makes you more invisible than any scents or camo. However, you have a hard time marketing "sit down and shut up"

KJ

"In fact, if it wasn't so cold in the winters here, I'd hunt naked and not use toilet paper."

Thanks for that visual. I just threw up in my mouth.

Mtnhunter

I have also wondered if the scent locking clothing was worth the price. I have used scent removal soap, shampoo, and body wipes while hunting and wash all my hunting clothes in scent killing laundry soap, but cannot quantify the results. Why would campfire smoke spook game? They smell that odor often, but do they associate it with humans or other predators? I think contrast with your background, noise, and movement are much more important at rifle hunting distances. I'll keep my wool clean and spend my cash on hunts rather than technology.

Zermoid

To Dr Ralph,
Perhaps it's not the sweat but all the noise and movement caused by moving fast enough to raise a sweat going to your stand, and alerting everything within a mile of your presence?
I've shot deer after two weeks without a shower, while smoking a cig, at about 25 yards distance, and in an Orange vest!
I absolutely believe it's wind direction and movement that's important, and BTW a lit cig is a great wind detector! You can watch the breeze move and swirl around with your smoke!
I've also come to believe it's not your human smell but the chemical smell of all our deodorants and cologne and aftershaves that really spook deer, natural smells are natural smells, artificial ones are out of place in the woods.
My opinion anyways.

Chad Love

"I have used scent removal soap, shampoo, and body wipes while hunting and wash all my hunting clothes in scent killing laundry soap, but cannot quantify the results."


I don't think you could empirically and in a controlled setting quantify the results of about 98 percent of the truly ludicrous products on the market today, but if you try to point that out you're decried (for examples see shortfat comments) as a hopeless Edsel-driving nostalgia-addled Luddite.
Which is fine, of course. It takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, even suckers...


Dr. Ralph

I'm so old and out of shape just carrying a rifle, tree stand on my back, food and water to last 12 hours while wearing enough clothes to keep me warm when it's 16 degrees makes me sweat after about 20 yards. I too have not showered for long periods of time and taken game. I usually follow a trail most of the way in and do everything that is humanly possible not to make noise but when I sweat, I see no deer. I'm talking about hair wet, droplets running down your back into your thermals sweating! And I don't move on stand. That will ensure a failed hunt every time. I learned way back that animals are mother nature's motion detectors and wild turkeys are on the forefront of this technology. Every one's body chemistry is different and mosquitoes ticks and fleas do not like me either... thank you Jesus, thank you Lord.




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