Some believe scent-killer products are snake oil. For me, they are a pivotal part of my western big game and whitetail success, and if you develop a scent-free system of your own, they will up your odds as well.
When we think of controlling human odor to better fool the olfactory system of a cagey game animal, our minds typically drift to whitetails. I get it. The white-tailed deer is the most sought-after game animal in North America, and because of its ability to adapt, this game species is huntable in almost every state in the U.S.
However, the human odor game applies to more than whitetail hunters. It’s September, and hunters across the country are hitting the ground running, hoping to fulfill their whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn, and bear dreams.
All of these animals play the wind, and while some have better sniffers than others, the more scent-free you can keep yourself, the better your chances of punching a tag.
I’m a system guy. I have a system for shooting my bow, which includes reciting words I have penned in red on my sight ring. I have specific places in my pack for certain pieces of gear and only wear clothing items that come as part of a system. I’m not promising that being an obsessive/compulsive hunter like me will make you the best hunter on the planet, but I believe having a set system creates habits that create muscle memory, which leads to punched tags.
Pronghorn/Elk/Mule Deer Scent System
I break these three creatures into a scent-system trio for several reasons. First, for most hunters chasing western game, the pursuit means they aren’t back at the hotel each night showering, washing clothes, and the list goes on. Second, most western hunts in September require a lot of walking in terrain that tends to be extremely steep, and temperatures are hot, which means added perspiration.
This doesn’t mean I throw my scent game out the window when chasing western critters in September. Quite the opposite, actually, and my system has paid off in spades over the years. Here’s what I do.
- Run a blank load of just water through the washing machine.
- Run a load of hunt clothing and add Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula Laundry Detergent. Yes, I like the Autumn Formula the best and have had excellent results.
- Pull clothing from the washer, place garments in a scent-free tote, and hang clothes outside to air dry.
- After the air has dried clothing, I spray each garment inside and out with WRC’s Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula Field Spray and allow the garments to dry.
- After all the clothing is dry, I wear medical gloves, fold the clothes, and store the clothes in a scent-free tote.
- Before heading out on my first hunt, I shower in Scent Killer Gold Body Wash & Shampoo and dry with a towel washed in Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula Laundry Detergent.
- When I hit the hills or the prairie, I lightly mist my clothing one more time with Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula field spay, keep the wind in my favor, and hunt.
- Before dinner, I use a portable shower (if possible), or one of my absolute favorite, must-have WRC products — the Scent Killer Gold Field Wipes are excellent.
- Throughout the hunt, I use my in-the-field system and am never afraid to spray down or stop during midday and wipe down with my field wipes.
- If I get a chance to go into town after five or six days of hunting, I head to the local laundry mat and re-wash all my hunting clothing.
I’ve found over the years that if I don’t get lazy and stay true to my western scent system, it does help. If nothing else, I promise you after living off the western landscape for three or four days, nothing will rejuvenate you like dripping water from a shower bag, a towel treated in Scent Killer Autumn Gold Laundry Detergent, and some Vitamin E & Aloe enriched field wipes.
From day one to day, whatever is the last day I climb into a whitetail stand or blind for the season, I follow this scent routine to the letter. I have also added some anecdotes from my Whitetail Yoda, Terron Bauer. Terron is the best whitetail hunter you’ve never heard of, and this man has a system for growing and killing big bucks.
- Run a blank load of water through the washing machine. Add Wildlife Research Center’s Autumn Formula Detergent and wash.
- Remove washed clothing from the dryer and hang it outside to dry. If temperatures aren’t conducive to outside drying, clean the lint trap of your dryer and add WRC’s Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula Dryer Sheets.
- You will have to hang clothing dried in the dryer outside to be treated with Scent Killer Gold Autumn Formula Field Spray. Always wear rubber medical gloves when working with clothing items.
- Store clothing in a scent-free container until use.
- I skip this step, but Bauer is a 100 percent believer. The effort works for him, and I want to pass it along. Bauer invested in a Hunter’s Closet — a device that keeps human scent out, allows you to hang hunt clothing and he treats that clothing with ozone before hunting. Food for thought for all you over-the-top scent freaks out there.
- Take a shower hours before your hunt. Don’t take a scent-free shower using WRC’s Body Wash & Shampoo a day before or even the night before your hunt. When you climb into your bed, odors reattach.
- Throw on a Scent Killer Gold treated base layer, drive to your hunt locale, and dress in the field. Yes, even if it’s cold outside. Bauer is a big believer in getting dressed in the field.
- You can spray ozone-treated clothing down or not — it’s up to you — but if you spray down, I still like the Autumn Formula.
- Think before you start walking to your stand. If it’s even semi-warm outside and you have a walk more than 1/4 mile, you will begin to sweat, and odors will start to form. Layer properly. You can always lash additional clothing items to your pack, which should also be as scent-free as possible.
- If you worked up a sweat, stop where you plan to finish layering up and wipe down with WRC’s Scent Killer Gold Field Wipes.
That’s what I refer to as a system, and the closer I stick to my plan, the better results I have. Wildlife Research makes a slew of products that help you fly under the nose of deer, and you need to take advantage of as many as possible.
Don’t get lazy with your system. If you’re finishing this article and asking yourself why I prefer the Autumn Formula over the standard Scent Killer Gold Formula, which has no smell, it’s a personal preference. Autumn formula smells like dirt, and I’ve had great luck using it over the years.