In Pursuit of Pope & Young (PYP) -Scent Control 101

cleaning clothes (1 of 1)

Ben Brettingen

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The never ending battle. It’s just another thing where people’s opinions vary greatly. You always hear the story of ol’ Jim, who sat in the same stand every year for 50 years, smoking cigarettes like it’s going out of style, and seems to shoot big deer.

If you talk to any big game hunter, scent control is a giant part of success when chasing trophy deer. There are many levels in scent control, some I opt to skip but many I follow religiously.

Consider this…

  • The nose of a whitetail deer has up to 297 million olfactory receptors, dogs have 220 million with humans limiting out with just five million… making the whitetail deer’s sense of smell is a third greater than that of a canine.
  • Experts state that a whitetail deer can detect human scent for up to 10 days after it’s left.
  • In tests, dogs have been able to pick up chemical solutions that form one or two parts in a trillion. That is the equivalent of smelling one bad apple in two billion barrels.

So in conclusion, deer are going to smell you if you are in bow range. Despite, all of the ozone emitters, scentlock clothing, cover scents, and what ever you want to throw at them.

Ben in SL

There is one thing which can trick a mighty whitetail, the wind. Use it to your advantage…always. If the wind is wrong for a certain stand, leave. It’s not worth a big buck busting you, which in turn may send him into a nocturnal pattern.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t use any scent control products because I sure do. The way I think about these products is like this: the deer may still smell you, but it creates “distance”. So if you are only 20 yards from a deer, these combination of scent control methods would make the deer think you are maybe 60 yards instead. This could possibly put them at alert but not enough to spook them out of the area.

Clothes stack

*iphone Photo

Here is my scent control regime.

  • I’ll start this off in the shower. A day before I am planning on hunting, I’ll avoid any sort of scented deodorant, or cologne and opt for a scent free deodorant.  I will shower with a scent “killing” body wash and shampoo. Another big thing is to avoid strong smelling foods. For example, I cut up an onion about 24 hours ago and I can still smell it on my hands after 2 showers.
  • Base layer. Early season scent control is extremely difficult, your sweat glands are more worked up than a teenage boy at the school dance! I don’t personally have any scent lock under-layer but use a moisture wicking shirt such as Under Armor. Everything I wear into the field has been washed in scent reducing or scent free laundry detergent and immediately put into a plastic container.  Is this a little overkill…maybe! If it is going to mean the little difference between slamming a 100 grain broadhead into a buck or having it’s white flag raised in my face, overkill is okay!
  • Carbon clothing. The merits of carbon scent control clothing has been debated but again I do believe it creates “distance” for yourself. I will leave my clothes outside for a few hours to a day, outside hanging in a tree to let it “air out”
  • Accessories – Everything I bring into my blind or my treestand has been hosed down with scent spray. Blind, backpack, the whole works.
  • The morning/afternoon of the hunt.  I won’t put on anything I plan on wearing into the stand on my drive to the hunting spot. I often stop at gas stations, and that would be a huge no-no. Another suggestion is to avoid wearing your hunting boots in the truck. I also put these in a plastic bin and put them on when I arrive to my spot. Often times I may be a little lax on changing my under layer before going to the field, but I never put on my outer clothing on before my car ride.
  • Arriving to the spot.  I will throw on all of my gear, spray it down with scent spray, especially my boots and head on out to my stand or blind.
  • Last note. I wouldn’t encourage peeing off your stand. Some people say it attracts deer, but I’m sure those deer will smell that asparagus you had last night!

I am headed off to Lake Michigan to chase after Salmon for a couple of days and then Bret and I are North Dakota bound to take our first shot at Pope & Young success!

Bow in tree


  1. Good info on scent control. This is something we’re trying to get better at. I’ll be getting the laundry detergent and soap for sure. Though, at Gander the other day I saw the Scent Control brand toothpaste. If you ask me *that* seems like overkill, considering it was still mint scented/flavored. This season, I plan to buy some space bags to put our gear in when not being used. And good luck on the salmon. We didn’t catch any two weeks ago out of Manitowoc, but I see pictures of huge ones from elsewhere on the lake.

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