How to Keep Deer from Smelling You

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A nosy deer will always bust you on the stand. If there’s one sharp sense that all deer have, their sense of smell is an evolutionary natural selection masterpiece. 

If like me, you’ve been hunting deer a long time, you always know when you’ve been made, I mean they let you know. 

You are familiar with the snort blowing sound that deer make when they catch a peculiar sniff in the air. This tells you that the deer have smelt you, and your natural scent is responsible for ruining the hunt. 

It’s virtually impossible to hide completely from deer for a long time. However, there are ways to mask your scent and fool them for just a while longer to line up your shot. 

How Do You Mask Human Odor to Keep Deer From Smelling You?

You and I have heard the entire hullabaloo that surrounds scent masking tactics among hunters. Some folks swear on rubbing deer droppings all over themselves and their gear.

They hope that whitetails won’t know the difference between humans and a pile of their own poo. Others go to extremes with potent stuff like skunk scent, all in an attempt to fool a deer’s powerful nose. 

Some homegrown tactics like these have worked to a certain degree, even contributing to bountiful harvests. But there have to be better ways to keep deer from smelling you, aside from the foul-smelling variety.

Three factors come to play, including wind direction, odor control, and human scent masking.

While you must take care of odor control even before the hunt, wind direction and scent masking are practiced when you’re in the woods. 

No matter where you hunt, the time of day or season ensures that you are downwind of the deer’s position. You can also reduce the chances of being spotted by masking the surroundings with deer attractant and scent maskers during the rut.

Odor Control From Before the Hunt Begins 

The colognes, scented soaps, deodorants, and washing detergents that cover us are alike a blaring siren to deer and other wild animals. Alongside our natural human odor, cigarette smoke or sweat that forms a buildup of bacteria in our armpits is enough to ward off that potential buck. 

Limiting smells before the hunt works well to keep the deer unaware of your presence. Start by scrubbing down with odorless soap and shampoo, rinsing thoroughly before stepping out of the shower. 

Use a natural scent killer like baking soda to wash with. Dry yourself with a towel that’s not been washed with scented detergents, or use a hairdryer. 

An odorless antiperspirant, preferably of the rubbing stick variety, will keep down sweat related scent. Carry one in your pack to use while you’re in the woods. 

Odor Control on Your Clothing and Gear

Wash the clothing you’ll be hunting in using an odorless detergent and hang them to dry instead of using an electric dryer.  Spray the still wet clothing and other fabric items like hunting backpacks with a scent killer spray, leaving them completely dry. 

Store your clothing in an airtight bag once dry to wear only when you’re ready to roll out into the woods. 

Clean and spray all your gear, including hats, gloves, harness, or bunting pack. If you’re taking along a tree stand seat from home, take it through the same treatment. 

The Amazing Smelling Capabilities of Deer

Deer’s sense of smell is simply amazing. In comparison to ours, you can barely even comprehend the power of the nose on that whitetail you’re trying to hide from. 

A successful hunter must do everything possible to minimize their natural human scent, a critically vital deer hunting tactic. Before I tell you how to keep deer from smelling you, let me take you on a science tour of deer olfactory senses. 

Humans have five million olfactory receptors, the nerves responsible for turning odor stimuli into what you sense as smell. Dogs have 220 million, and that’s why your mongrel is so good at sniffing out fallen waterfowl.

Deer are above that, with a whopping 297 million olfactory receptors on their muzzled noses. As if that wasn’t enough, deer also have a scent gland in their mouth, generally termed a vomeronasal organ.

The deer’s brain may not be larger than ours in many areas, but not in scent processing. Theirs is nine times the size of humans, meaning a deer can smell nine scents where you can’t catch any sniff. 

Dog vs. Deer: Which Has Better Smelling Capabilities? 

Lots of research has been done on dogs than on deer smelling capabilities. I will therefore make an estimation seeing as deer have 30 percent greater smelling abilities than dogs.

Let’s make a comparison with what dogs can smell, and relegate a more remarkable ability to deer. 

  • Dogs identify a trace scent of chemicals that’s one or two parts within a trillion others. With deer, picking up the human scent is like looking for the proverbial needle in the one stalk of the haystack.
  • Dogs identify the scents emitted by hormonal pheromones of excitement, fear, and anxiety. A deer will sniff your excitement for spotting him from the tree stand, especially if the wind is wrong. 
  • Forensically trained police dogs can pick up the unique human scent from fingerprints seven days after the crime. Successful deer harvest requires that you, your equipment, a tree stand, and its surroundings be made free from human scents up to a week before. 
  • Dogs are being used by surgeons to alert patients with cancer by sniffing their breath, with around 90% accuracy. If you have recently used shampoo, laundry detergent, or perfume, deer will pick you out from across the field.

With this information in mind, you know that your presence in the woods is an abnormality that screams hazard signs at deer. Setting up more than a week before may seem impractical, and that’s why the market is flooded with scent dissipaters and maskers. 

An after the rain set-up also helps to mask the human scent. Rain provides a cleansing effect while also enveloping the deer with a scent they really like; soil. 

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