Scent and Deer Hunting

Scent and Deer Hunting

4 Ways to Fight Scent When Deer Hunting

The most serious challenge when deer hunting is scent. Human scent will send a deer scampering into the next county. This is especially true on public land or land that receives a lot of pressure from hunters. I will admit that I was one of those bowhunters that sat in a treestand or on a tree limb back then, during a hot early season hunt daylight to dark wearing mopp gear from the Army surplus. Oldtimers know what I am talking about. Plenty of you wore those hot ass suits while many of you laughed at those that did. It’s all good. I’m not sure how well those things worked but it taught me a few things about scent control. Here is 4 of my favorite ways to fight scent when deer hunting.

Scentlok Clothing For Deer Hunting

Scentlok has become synonymous with scent control within deer hunting circles. It was so far ahead of the late comers that they were sued and they won that lawsuit and still produces great scent control products to help you fight human scent while deer hunting. Scentlok clothing is much more comfortable than that mopp gear us crazies wore in the old days. I wore mopp gear in the Army and sat for hours in a bunker in full mopp gear while the bombs shook Baghdad in Desert Storm.

We couldn’t wait to turn that stuff in when I got out of the Army only to find myself searching high and low for a mopp suit to wear when the rumors were that they would stop scent from escaping while deer hunting. I laugh at all the things we did in the early days and the mopp suit ranks right up there with the skinned up chest and belly from bear hugging those hickory trees and oaks with those fancy Baker treestands.

Do You Need Scentlok Hunting Clothes

Many still today are skeptical of the performance of scent control clothing like Scentlok. They claim that they don’t work. It is my opinion and by the way I wear it religiously while deer hunting. I wear Scentlok and other scent control garments for a couple reasons. First I think they do work to some degree. I have always felt that Scentlok technology definitely helped get deer in closer. Does it kill your scent completely? I would say no to that but it kills human scent enough to get them within bow range.

The other reason I wear Scentlok hunting clothes is because they are excellent quality garments. They have great camo options. They fit well and last forever. I have Scentlok clothes that I purchased 20 years ago and they are still going strong. Luckily I bought them extra big back then but really I still wear Scentlok that I bought 20 years ago. I would like to add that I hunt a lot. I used to hunt every day for 6 weeks so these Scentlok clothes have been hunted in a lot.

Scentlok Hunting Clothes Help Get Deer Close

To me one of the things I’ve noticed when it comes to getting deer in close is the fact that the Scentlok keeps your scent low enough. When a deer is coming in from downwind it won’t get a whiff of you and eventually will change course. When their course changes it moves out of your scent cone. It can then come on around to your position because it is upwind by the time it gets in bow range. Of course this can work the opposite way in that the deer could move from upwind and into your scent cone close to your position.

I have seen this happen and the deer may pick you off but for one thing the deer is much closer and maybe in bow range before the scent signal is potent enough to trigger a fear response from the deer. Usually when there is you can tell the scent signature was small because they just kind of vacate the area cautiously as apposed to snorting and stomping and acting a fool because they received such a strong scent from you. This is why I am confident that the Scentlok technology works.

Cover Scents For Deer Hunting

I remember my dad’s hockey puck that he pinned to his hunting clothes. When you turned the hockey puck the distinct oder of skunk filled the air. IO loved playing with that old hockey puck but my mom and dad always knew when I was. I would turn that thing and it wouldn’t be 15 seconds until I heard one of them yell, Kenneth. That’s all they had to say. I remember my dad explaining to me that it was a cover scent and was meant to overwhelm his own scent so a deer wouldn’t know he was there. My dad swore it worked and it was cutting edge technology back then. As a self taught bow hunter, my dad left when I was 5, I took these lessons to heart.

He gave me his bow when I was 13 and with it some instructions on the gear that came with it. Needless to say I was all about cover scents for many years. Raccoon pee, fox urine, acorn and apple scent then those scent wafers that smelled like dirt. Those wafers won out and is all I use today as a cover scent. They are the most natural oder in the woods. I feel that the strong oder of apples along a ridge covered with big oaks will just put the deer on alert.

Should You Use Doe In Estrus Scent

When I say cover scent I mean scents on your body or near you on stand to cover your scent. I do use scent to attract deer. This can help cover your scent by overwhelming the deer’s senses. Having said that I know a lot of deer hunters that swear by doe in estrus scent and I know it will attract bucks during the rut, but I stopped using it after finding that does seem to be alarmed by the smell. The only thing I can figure is they have been harassed all night and know that any hint of a doe in estrus will attract bucks and thus more harassment. This is just a guess, but while I’ve never had a buck spook from the doe in estrus I have had does spook. I do nit like to spook deer when I’m hunting, so I stopped using it.

The Scents That I Use To Hunt Deer

The only scents I use these days are those dirt wafers, dominant buck urine and  Code Blue’s Rack Rub Gel. Rack Rub is the ultimate forehead gland and preorbital scent for stimulating rub activity. I smear it on a licking branch above mock scrapes. This is the only scent, along with dominant buck urine in the scrape, that has consistently attracted bucks during the day. I have killed my three biggest bucks after creating mock scrapes and adding this Rack Rub above it. Over the years after using about every scent on the market as well as harvested glands and urine from deer that I have killed I’ve settled on these three scents. I have been happy with the results.

Scent Control Spray

Scent killer sprays could be considered a cover scent I guess. However, I classify these scent control sprays as a scent killer. The technology in these sprays actually work to kill the scent by neutralizing the scent molecules that can alarm deer. A lot has been marketed towards these sprays with hunters spraying down before leaving the truck to walk in. I even carry a small bottle of scent control spray in my pack when it is hot. When I think I’ll sweat going to my treestand I have the scent control spray with me. I spray down once I cool off and the sweat stops. These scent control sprays can help kill the scent molecules that permeate through your hunting clothes. These sprays along with cover scents all help in your quest to get a deer in close.

Scent Free Soap For Deer Hunting

This paragraph might shock some deer hunters. I think that bathing is the number one best way to control human oder in the deer woods. There is plenty of scent killing or scent free soaps on the market and you should definitely be using them. These soaps to include scent killer laundry detergent can be the single most important aspect to scent control, in my opinion. Scentlok clothing helps just like all the other things mentioned in this article but if you were only going to do one single thing to help kill your scent in the deer woods it would be to shower before you go.

Use A Loofah For Scent Control

Scent killing soap is a must. You don’t want to smell like mountain forest wildflowers when you’re trying to fool the nose of a whitetail along the Mississippi low lands. While the soap is the start there is one thing I think will do even more to sluff off scent molecules than soap. This is what my wife calls a Loofah. Click the link to see what I’m talking about.

This loofah scrubs dead skin from your body. By using this loofah and scrubbing your entire body you will remove the majority of dead skin cells. These dead skin cells are what falls from your body onto the ground or onto brush and tree limbs as you make your way to your deer hunting spot. This is why rubber boots are so effective in leaving a scent free trail where you walk. Just like wearing gloves and a head cover all the way to your stand can help minimize scent. You will never keep all of the scent out of the woods. Deer just have too good a nose. However, you can absolutely minimize your scent signature and get more deer to come into range when you practice serious scent control. Take it serious because it works.

Does Human Urine Spook Deer

I added this section because I’m asked often or I see this question asked on forums and social media. Does human urine scare deer? I can say without hesitation that I don’t think so. I’ve actually killed a couple deer while they were sniffing where I had urinated before getting into my stand. One was a doe that came in literally within 5 minutes of me getting situated in my treestand. It was obvious that the 5 or 6 does came to investigate the noise I had made climbing with my treestand. I’ve had this happen a lot of times. When the deer came trotting in one of the does broke off from the group and came to the base of my tree and literally stuck her nose in the spot where I had urinated. I could hear her actually sucking the dirt into her nose when I shot her.

Fresh Dirt And Deer

About the dirt. I’ve read someplace that deer are attracted to fresh dirt. Maybe because of scrapes I’m not sure but I did read that in the past. So if I have to urinate near my treestand, before climbing up. I always use my boot to create a hole to pee in. I then cover the urine with the dirt. If I am already in the tree I have urinated from my treestand because I had no other option and I have had deer come into bow range after doing this. I would note that I have never had a mature whitetail show up after I had urinated near my treestand which leads me to the next paragraph.

Mature whitetail bucks and human urine. This whole section is a personal account of my experience with human urine scaring deer while hunting. Everything mentioned above is on hunts that I was hunting any deer and not focused on mature bucks. I spent almost 20 years hunting only mature whitetails from mid-October to mid-November. I actually quit my job every year at this time to hunt every season but a couple I spent nearly every day during that 30 or so day period in a treestand. During this time everything I wrote above about deer not being spooked by human urine was not considered. I would never urinate near or from my treestand while hunting mature whitetail bucks.

I’m not sure if it would spook mature bucks or not because urinating would never even enter my mind when hunting them. I always carried a pee bottle during this time. Hunting mature whitetail bucks is a whole other story if you plan on consistently taking one, with a bow especially. A thousand experts could tell me that human urine doesn’t scare deer. I still wouldn’t even consider urinating anywhere in the woods I’m hunting. It just doesn’t make sense, to me at least, to add any foreign odor into an area where I’m hunting mature bucks. I finally began killing mature whitetails when I implemented very strict scent control to my regiment. When it came to bow hunting. This regiment was to eliminate all foreign odors from myself and equipment while also “playing” the wind to get bucks into bow range.

Note: I can’t emphasize enough the importance of utilizing everything that helps to minimize human scent. If you do this, along with practicing those old school woodsmanship practices, something I think a lot of young hunters either ignore or just haven’t learned, and you will absolutely see more deer and be more successful in the deer hunting woods.


Check Out

Trophy Deer Hunters: A Realistic Perspective

Deer Summer Sausage Recipe

Hunting Sitka Blacktail Deer

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.


  1. Found this article very useful for deer hunters. I am curious though, using all these products and then jumping in your scented vehicle to travel to your blind, wouldnt it defeat the purpose? That part has never made sense to me. Otherwise, I truly enjoyed this article.

  2. Hi Ashley thanks for the comment. Well, if you are serious about scent control which I was for many years, you strip down at your tailgate and remove clean hunting clothes from a sealed container and dress before walking in. This is everything. Nothing that went into the woods with me got near human scent of any kind besides what got on them when putting them on and even then it was minimal as I would even put a pair of latex gloves on just to get dressed. I know this all sounds crazy and it might have been but when you want to be scent free then you can’t stop at the gas station and get a cup of coffee. I only drank water after the 3 am shower. There is no way to keep everything off of you but you sure can minimize it. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.