For most of the country, the Whitetail Rut is wrapping up. Bucks are emerging from their love-drunken stupor and will again be as wary as ever as they recover from November's Chase. You may have gotten away with a few things this past month; you possibly could have even started being a little bit lazy on a few key details. But, If you let that trend continue, an old cautious deer can make you pay.
Scent Control is key in the "late season." Big bucks will be locking in on food sources and thick bedding. Of course, those are great places to be hunting! A mature deer knows to use his nose, especially in these core areas. If you plan to be in pursuit in the coming weeks, you have to keep the wind in mind.
In the last blog post "Play (tricks with) The Wind", we discussed the merits of hunting the "almost wrong" wind. Reducing the size of your scent cone is an integral part of cutting it close. Here are 8 things you may be forgetting when it comes to Scent Control in the late season:
*Disclaimer: Any and all of these items that can be treated with ozone, and I suggest you do. we've been using the Scent Crusher Bag this season and have really liked it.
1. Starting at the bottom: Your Boots
They have carried you in and out countless times this season, but they can also end up funkier than a 7th grade football locker room if you're hunting hard. You also never know who parked in the spot next to you at the parking lot yesterday. An old '85 Square Body Chevy makes a cool hunting rig, but that leaky gasket can leave anyone who steps in the wrong place smelling like Quaker State.
I like to sprinkle a spoonful of baking soda in each boot, the night before a hunt, about once a month. The next morning, go outside and give them a few waps upside down. The baking soda will have your boots smelling neutral and will also help with future foot odors. For the exterior, a couple stomps in the mud or a cow-patty should do the trick. Also, its never a bad idea to give them a spray-down with some scent neutralizing juice.
2. All the way to the top: Your Ball Cap
I'd be willing to bet money you hunt in some sort of a ball cap for most of the season. I might go all in on the fact that you've forgotten, at least once, to take that hat off before you entered the local eatery for a post hunt cafe special (one of the special joys of hunting). Sure your belly is full, but your head is smelly. The smell of grilled onions and butter might be pleasing to us, but it can't be good for the nostrils of a whitetail.
I don't always trust the sprays, but I think this is an effective application for such. Whether you haven't been the most diligent in protecting your hunting hat, or you're like me and work up a steamy head-sweat on most hikes, give your hat a few squirts of the scent control spray of your choice before you leave the truck.
3. Triggered: Your Release
If you're good at practicing all year, then your wrist rocket has seen some hot summer days. the strap on theses can absorb odors easily. Even if you shoot an all metal handheld release, there are crevasses that can hold human scent and oils.
Run a good amount of hot water in a plastic bowl. Add a teaspoon of baking soda and stir. Once the powder has dissolved, dip your release in for a minute or so. Rinse with hot water and pad dry with a scent-free paper towel. Allow to dry outside overnight. This will serve two purposes: Cleaning for function and scent.
4. Speaking of drying: Your Bath Towel
This is one I always forget. I'm the world worst about taking a good scent free shower, then stepping out and drying off with a towel that smells like a lavender scented teddy bear. (My wife loves scented detergent.)
Remember to wash a few towels, possibly some cheap ones you bought yourself, with your hunting clothes. Roll them up and keep them in a gallon ziplock stashed behind the "good" bathroom towels.
5. Weaponry: Your Bow
There is nothing like an Axe Body Spray-using buddy asking to hold your bow. Even worse, smelly bathroom soap. You gotta wash you hands, right?
I have a new rule: The bow is either A. in the case B. headed to the stand C. shooting at a target. No grubby hands touching all over it and no in-cab odors infecting my weapon of choice.
6. Going up: Your Pull Rope
I've used the same one all season. I feel pretty scent secluded 20-30 feet up in a tree, but its easy to forget that there is often a dangling little noodle that smells just like you reaching all the way to the ground.
I've started using a singular rope that I carry in my pack. I can wash it anytime I like so it doesn't smell like palm sweat. Also, I hook the bottom end onto a branch at stand level once I've retrieved my bow. This at least keeps any rouge scent particles up high with me.
7. Heavy loads: Your Backpack
If you are like us, you put seemingly everything you own into or on your pack. Food, water, clothes, camera arm, camera, climbing sticks, bow hanger, grunt call, antlers, toilet paper.... The list goes on and on. I look like a Mutant Hunting-Ninja Turtle on my hike in. It is a good way to warm up real quick, and your pack soaks in all of that backsweat.
This is where I think Ozone treatments really come in handy. Yes, they work on everything. However, backpacks are one of those things that are really hard to fit into a washing machine, so being able to zip them up in an Ozone bag like the Scent Crusher to detox is super handy.
8. Don't get HANGRY: Your Snacks
When the temps drop, my appetite grows. I act like a chipmunk trying to fill its cheeks. Everything sounds tasty, especially hardy starchy snacks. However, the full buffet isn't the greatest idea for hungry hangs. Garlicky chex mix and processed Vienna sausages are easy, but they are super pungent. (Not to mention they will have your arteries clogged before you climb down.)
Instead I (sometimes begrudgingly) opt for healthier and more natural foods. Granola bars are tasty, made of more natural materials, and can be healthy. Make sure they aren't too crunchy though. You'd hate to have a doe pick you off on a quiet morning because you were chomping too hard. Most fruits are a good choice too. They'll help you stay awake and alert. (I like apples. They don't get squished easily.) And what self respecting deer hunter doesn't like homemade Venison Jerky?