Is all scent created equal?
A good majority of bowhunters are aware of the necessary precautions that must be taken to control human odor when entering the woods. There is certainly debate whether or not some of the advertised products work, or if there is simply no substitute for woodsmanship.
Aside from that discussion, I recently encountered a situation that lead me to believe that other factors are at play in how much human scent a deer will tolerate. In this particular situation, I was positioned over a well used trail that entered a bedding area about 75 yards to the Northwest of my position. The wind was from the NE and I when I hung the set I suspected that the wind would carrying any scent out and over the approaching deer. In theory, this would be correct, but the conditions of the day (cool, damp, overcast) had the heavy cool air dropping more quickly than I expected due to a lack of morning thermal activity and the approaching deer were able to pick up enough scent to make them uneasy, although not spooked. I’ll be adjusting the stand by 25 yards the next time I sit, but that’s subject matter for another blog.
How might have this situation played out differently if it occurred on a field edge? In my experiences, areas where deer are more accustomed to encountering human scent may be a bit more forgiving when it comes to scent control. Field lanes, the edges or crop fields or old logging two tracks that receive more frequent human travel are examples of areas where deer may be less spooked when catching a bit of scent. Its not to say that you can enter these areas with no regard to scent control but you may be able to get away with a bit more.
As you push in closer to bedding areas, the necessity of paying attention to scent control becomes more imperative. There is no substitute for playing the wind, however, putting as many odds in your favor as possible is good practice. Mature deer that pick up even the slightest indication of intrusion into their bedroom are going to be alarmed. If you are inside their security cover this is not a normal occurrence for them. Unlike field edges, which receive human activity on a more regular basis, whitetails often bed in certain areas because they are secure and not invaded by humans. For this reason you need to consider both your airborne scent and ground scent. Avoiding an access route to a stand that crosses deer paths is imperative and setting up in a way to avoid your scent entering the bedding area or flowing over the deer trail is also necessary for success.
Deer will simply not tolerate the presence of humans in their bedding areas, and for this reason, bed hunting is high risk and high reward. Often, when accessing a remote bedding area, you are burning a bridge to get there and you will only have a hunt or two per season in that location. Choosing your hunting times wisely and waiting for the perfect conditions is important in order to stay undetected and increase your odds. An approaching buck that catches your scent close to his bed is not going to stick around and give you multiple shot opportunities like immature deer may do when encountering residual human odor along a field edge, so play the wind, consider your access and be as scent free as possible.
What do you think? Leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com