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Scent Control 101

Scent Control 101

By: Heath Wood

 

As a young teenager, my obsession with hunting grew with each passing day. Like many other small-town boys and girls, I spent the late summer watching hunting videos in hopes of learning more about harvesting a mature buck.

While trying to obtain more knowledge, I found a favorite video series by Hunters Specialties. In the late nineties and early two-thousands, scent elimination was something that many hunters were eager to understand. In the Hunters Specialties videos, they often spoke of the scent-a-way, scent elimination system. From the early 2000s to the present day, when buying a Scent-A-Way product, the package or bottle lists the scent control system in three steps. By following the three-step system, hunters have a more extensive advantage of remaining scent free when chasing mature bucks.

Fast forward to 2008, my childhood dream came to fruition. From 2008 until 2016, I served on the pro staff for Hunters Specialties, where I hunted, promoted, and tested their many products. During that time, I became more familiar with the Scent-A-Way products and learned how each product worked. Today, after working with several hunting companies in the industry, I believe in the same scent elimination system I discovered many years ago.

After hunting for twenty-five years and acquiring knowledge as I grow older, I have attained a few tips and tricks that can be added along with the original scent control system.  By combining these tactics, hunters can fool a deer and fight against their number one defense, their nose.

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I must admit that most of the things learned in the battle between human odor and deer have been gained only after a deer has smelled me or a foreign odor that they know isn’t right. This typically results in deer spooking and leaving the area. After the fact, I knew I needed to stay faithful to the scent control system combined with some of my tricks. Fewer deer smell me, and I have been fortunate enough to harvest several deer.

 

Step 1 – Clothing

 

The three steps in the scent control system are clothes, body, and field. The first step is washing all hunting clothing in a scent-eliminating detergent, then drying clothes and storing them in a scent-free bag or container.

One significant setback for hunting clothes is the everyday laundry that is done in the same washing machine and dryer. Most household detergents used on everyday street clothes are perfumed or have a strong smell. Day after day of high fragrance detergents being used, the inside of the washing machine and dryer will most likely have a strong fragrance that sticks to hunting clothes.

First and foremost, I begin my hunting laundry regimen by spraying the inside of the washing machine with Scent-A-Way spray. By eliminating odors before doing laundry, the scent-controlling detergents can fight odors on the clothes instead of all the fragrances inside the machine. The same goes for the dryer; before putting clean, scent-free clothes in the dryer, I first use a small ozone generator placed inside the dryer for five to six minutes. The ozone destroys all odors that are left behind.

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Step 2 – Body

 

In my opinion, this is the most vital step in remaining scent-free while deer hunting. The odor that causes deer to spook most often is human odor. Foreign odors such as gas, food, smoke, and many others can alarm deer, yet the smell of human odor to a deer is an instant red flag of danger. The best way to eliminate human odor is by cleaning the body with scent-fighting soaps and shampoos such as Scent-A-Way body soap and shampoo.

It is vital to pay attention to detail when showering as well. Use Scent-A-Way soap and shampoo on every part of the body. Proper use helps fight human odors from developing later while hunting.

After using scent-eliminating soaps, the mistake many hunters make is they dry off with a towel that smells like fabric softener, flowers, or other perfume-smelling detergents commonly used in the household. The solution goes back to step one. Always wash one or two towels along with hunting garments. When drying off, use a scent-free towel that is not instantly putting foreign odors back on the body.

 

Step 3 – Field

 

In the field can refer to two things. One indicates always taking the time to dress in the field. To avoid recouping odors, hunters should wear street clothes until they arrive at their hunting destination. Many odors can cling to the hunter and clothing from simple tasks such as stopping at a gas station, restaurant, or other places where odors are prevalent. Doing so will defeat all prior efforts to remain scent-free. Dress in the field and spray all hunting garments and gear with Scent-A-Way spray, such as the Muddy safety harness and other accessories.

Over the years, I have learned it is just as vital to undress in the field as it is to dress. After hunting, many wear camo around the camp, around the house, or while riding in a vehicle; they then proceed to throw the clothes back in their bag until the next hunt, allowing human odor entry into the bag that is meant to keep these very odors out.

The second in-the-field reference explains how to keep odors eliminated while in the field. During the hunt, human odors can reemerge. Sweat is the most common event that grows human odors while hunting.

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To remain scent-free throughout the hunt, it is vital to wear a moisture-absorbing base layer made with microbial products that can help prevent odors from reoccurring. Plus, they dry quickly, keeping the hunter dry and warm. I also prefer wearing carbon-based and silver-based clothing that can help absorb and destroy odors. Also, make sure to spray down periodically with Scent-A-Way spray throughout the hunt to remain scent-free.

Once clothes are scent-free, the next step is to dress in the field, not at home. Many odors can cling to the hunter and clothing from simple tasks such as stopping at a gas station, restaurant, or other places where odors are prevalent. Doing so will defeat all prior efforts to remain scent-free.

 

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Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy Outdoors

Tree Stands and Ground Blinds | Essential Preparation for Next Season

Spring Maintenance for Deer Tree Stands and Portable Ground Blinds

Hunting stand and blind maintenance is an afterthought for most hunters after the completion of a long deer season. Hunters are often preparing for spring gobbler or dusting off their trout rods for opening day in anticipation of warming spring weather. Spring, however, is an ideal time of year for revisiting your hunting spot and either removing or inspecting your tree stands. Take this break between outdoor activities to return to your tree stand locations, pull and/or inspect stands or prepare your pop-up ground blinds for turkey season or storage until next deer season.

Pulling Portable Tree Stands

The first thought before engaging in any activity involving hunting stands should be safety. Always approach climbing into your stand the same way, whether for a day long hunt or spring removal, safety first using proper safety belts and harnesses and general awareness on what you are about to do. Don’t take anything for granted, even ladder tree stands have risks associated with climbing and removal.

Portable stands, like hang-on tree stands and ladder tree stands, are best maintained by removing them after each hunting season. Not only does pulling your tree stands reduce weathering effects from temperature and precipitation but in some states it is illegal to keep your hunting stands on public grounds after each season. Having the stand on the ground gives you the opportunity to completely evaluate and repair all aspects of your stand and tree stand accessories such as climbing sticks or shooting rails.

Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy Outdoors

Maintenance Activities

  • Visually inspect your tree stands for signs of metal fatigue like stress cracks, especially in older stands.
  • Check each nut and bolt, tighten (or replace if necessary) any that may have loosen from use.
  • Proactively fight rust by priming and repainting areas showing signs of rust or parts that have been nicked or scratched from use to prevent further damage.
  • Examine cables, straps and pins for wear. Replace stand straps as needed or based on manufacturer recommendations, which is typically every two years.
  • Care for seats by checking for rips or tears. Cushioned seats are notorious for animal damage and wear faster than unpadded nylon seats.
  • Clean dirt and debris from climbing sticks, shooting rails or other accessories before storing.
  • Check safety systems for wear. Most harnesses have a lifespan of 5 years and should be replaced if older or if showing signs of wear that may impact performance.

Although safety is the most important reason for checking your hunting tree stands, maintaining stands also helps to improve your hunting experience. Rusty platforms and ladders along with loose bolts create noise that could be the difference between a successful hunt and one that sees your trophy running the other way as you move for a shot. Squeaks and other noises can be detected in stand and noted or attach your stand a few feet up in a tree at home. Move around your platform, lift the seat up and down and use the shooting rail to identify areas of noise and treat with a lubricant where applicable.

Parts that need replaced should be done with replacement parts from the manufacturer to preserve operating capability. Certain parts have specific specifications for their use and are designed for safety, using other parts may reduce safety or stand performance. Even the best hunting tree stands have a life span. Repairs can only go so far, know when a stand has exceeded its life, retire it and purchase a new one.

Neglecting Permanent Hunting Tree Stands

We all have it, our favorite deer hunting tree stand in that perfect location that you hunt year after year. Or perhaps it is a tried and true permanent stand along a field edge. Unlike portable tree stands, these stands stay out year round and often get overlooked when it comes to maintenance yet they still require upkeep to ensure safe hunts. Visually inspect for sturdiness on ladders or steps, rust on metal platforms, missing or loose bolts at connection points or worn strap on trees. Store any seats to prevent weathering or animal damage and loosen straps to allow for tree growth over the course of the growing season. Note any maintenance issues, acquire replacement parts and repair as needed so each stand is prepared for the start of next season. It is also a good idea to re-check permanent hunting stands prior to hunting the fall season to tighten straps and confirm the stand is safe and ready for your next hunt.

Ground Blind Preparation

Blinds like The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors are becoming more and more popular each season with hunters. Although constructed of durable, long lasting fabric these modern hunting implements still require care after each season and are often overlooked. Check tie down ropes as well as the shell itself for any signs of wear. Deer only blinds should be cleaned with a damp rag to remove dirt and grim from outdoor exposure and stored in the carry bag until next season. Prepare those that will be used in spring turkey by wiping down and checking that internal frames are fully functional.

Muddy Outdoors | Redemption Ground Blind Hub Style Set Up
(Video)- The Redemption Ground Blind by Muddy Outdoors is constructed with durable, long lasting fabric, and has extremely easy set up for reliable and portable use.

Secondary Benefits to Stand Maintenance

Unless you will be pulling your stand and opting for a new setup in the coming season, spring can be an opportunity to enhance your hunting location. The lack of vegetation gives you the same prospective you will see hunting in the fall. Take advantage and trim existing shooting lanes or create new ones by removing branches or small trees that may impeed future shots. If a portable hunting blind is more to your liking, make sure setup locations are free of debris and clear shots are available from all shooting windows. Be sure to preserve a balance between shooting lanes and concealment. Completing these activities in the spring also eliminates additional work, scent and disturbance in the critical weeks leading up to deer season. All that is left is a few snips on any new growth when you return to hang your stand or place your blind.

Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds Preparing for Next Season | Muddy OutdoorsShooting lanes are important but don’t forget about entry and exit points to your hunting spot. While pulling you stand or checking your set location, trim your trails. Clear fallen branches from winter and widen trails to avoid scent and noise that may spook game as you enter and exit during hunting season.

Reflect on the past season and determine if that tree or blind location is the best spot for success. Perhaps there is a better tree or setup based on your hunting experiences last season. Spring gives you the flexibility to analyze slowly and make decisions without the added pressure of deer season approaching and the stress of late summer heat and creepy crawlers.

Tree stands and hunting blinds are a tool and like any tool they require maintenance to perform as designed. Post season, spring-time is a great opportunity to get into the woods again. Revisit you hunting stand locations to remove and maintain your portable stands, check your permanent stands, care for blinds and spruce up your hunting locations, all in preparation for future successful and safe hunts.