How To Control Scent While Deer Hunting

Practicing scent control is an essential part of deer hunting. As much as we can’t eliminate human scent, reducing it as much as possible is one of the best ways to bypass a deer’s nose long enough to take that kill shot. You’ll then experience the best time to hunt deer!

Getting close enough to a whitetail deer to pull off the kill shot means reducing foreign scents. Doing so will increase your deer sightings and reduce the distance between you and your prey. The trick is how you achieve this to the best of your ability. I will now provide some tips on controlling scent while deer hunting.


Preparing Your Hunting Clothes

Your hunting clothes are vital in controlling your scent on the hunt. If you use regular washing detergents on your clothes when preparing for a hunt, you will take along many fragrances that deer sense and shy from. It would be best to eliminate these by using scent-free detergents that clean your clothes without adding foreign odors.

Clothes washing

Deer hunting has inspired the design of several products on the market for this purpose. Dead Down Wind, Scent Killer, Primos, and Scent-a-Way all make scent-free detergents with a distinct scent advantage for hunters. If you want to go the economical route, look up ways of using borax and baking soda to wash your clothes as a scent control alternative.

A way to reduce the chance of any residual odor from regular detergents in your washer is to pop in some baking soda and run a cycle without any clothes. The washing machine should be scent-free and ready to wash your hunting clothes after this.

Clothes drying and storage

After washing, it’s better to dry your hunting clothes outside on the line, as your drying machine may have lingering odors from previous runs. Alternatively, you can buy special cover scent and odor-absorbing sheets to add to your clothes while drying in a machine. Certain of these cover scent products provide an earth scent typical to the woods.

Place your dry clothes in a sealable plastic bag or air-tight container to prevent contamination. Organize your clothes using latex gloves to minimize odor transfer from your hands. After you undress, put your dirty clothes outside as a further way of remaining scent-free.


Leather boots breathe, which means air can infiltrate the boot walls, releasing odors from your socks and feet. For this reason, rubber hunting boots are a better option for many hunters when hunting whitetails.

The molecular compounds in rubber prevent escaping odors from inside the boot. You may have to live with the smell of stinking feet after the hunt, but it’ll all be worth it.

Activated carbon clothes

My final word on hunting clothes is slightly controversial. Many hunters use activated carbon clothing like those manufactured by Scent Blocker and Scent-Lok. These clothes get promoted as scent-absorbers which will leave their wearers altogether scent-free. It’s controversial as court rulings have brought their effectiveness into question.


Controlling Your Body’s Odor Level

As much as you don’t want any scent carried by your clothing, it’s essential that your body odor and any residual odor you bring from products you use are also minimized.

Many deer hunters take part in multiple-day hunts and cannot shower. If nothing is done to remove or cover the scents your body produces, any other precautions you’ve taken won’t have any impact. There are several scent-free products available for different personal hygiene purposes.


Wash with scent-free body wash, soap, and scent-free shampoo and conditioner for your hair. You may want to smell great for your partner or colleagues, but while deer hunting, you don’t want the smell of scented soap reaching a deer’s nose. Hunting season is way better if there are more deer to hunt.

Personal hygiene

Scent control is all about cutting down on unwanted odors that will scare away your potential prey. If you are free of odor, you will likely stand a much better chance of deer entering your hunting area.

Dry yourself with an unscented towel and brush your teeth with scent-free toothpaste. Good unscented deodorants take care of your natural body odor and leave you scent-free.

Other contamination

For at least a week before and on your way to the hunt, observe habits that won’t be detrimental to your scent control. On the day you leave, rather don’t wear your hunting clothing in the car, but keep them in the air-tight container you packed them in at home until you need them.

Eating and drinking

Be mindful of what you eat and drink. It helps to stick to a diet of bland food throughout hunting season, but this isn’t always practical. There is life outside of hunting, so follow as many scent control tips as possible without taking away all of life’s enjoyment. At least be aware of the foodstuff and drinks that adversely affect you and try to cut these out.

Exercise scent control at home by avoiding garlic, onion, and other food that will cause unnecessary odor or, heaven forbid, excessive wind or gas. Use your scent-free toothpaste often, and remember caffeine is a diuretic, so limit your coffee consumption on the hunt. Excessive bowel movements or urination won’t make deer hunting any easier.

Smoking, vaping, and gum

You’ll probably want to quit smoking and vaping if you want to take deer hunting seriously. These aren’t the scent control tips that smokers want to read, but these habits can transfer odor that whitetails will pick up immediately.

If you have to smoke, ensure you carry a sealable container to dispose of your cigarette butts or gum if you’re a chewer. If you must chew gum, consider buying some apple-flavored gum for deer hunters. Residual odors that smoking or vaping leave behind will linger for hours, so use one of the many scent reduction products available.


Further Scent Control Tips to Reduce Your Odor Footprint

A deer has 297 million scent receptors in its nose, which is 292 million more scent receptors than we, as humans, have. In other words, we have no idea how much and how well a whitetail can smell. When you get to the hunting spot and are preparing to enter the woods, consider this and everything you’ve done for scent control. Can you still do more?

Use cover scent and scent-reduction products

Before you leave on your hike to the hunting area, spray your clothes, boots, and hunting gear with a scent-eliminating spray, such as Scent Killer.

No matter what you do, you’ll never be able to control scent 100%. Your presence in the woods creates odors, so it won’t hurt to use some cover scents to disguise yourself. Cover scent products come in different natural odors; earth scent and deer urine are the most common natural scents hunters use.

Observe deer hunting toilet etiquette

We all have to give in to the call of nature, even in the woods. The resulting human scent is never positive for scent control, but we all must live with it. The trick is to observe standard deer hunting etiquette so you leave as little odor behind for the deer in the area.

For your number one, pack an inflexible plastic bottle with your gear and use it to pee into. You’ll want it to be able to close tightly, and you don’t want one that crumples and makes noise for apparent reasons.

Number two is a little more painful as you’ll need to leave your stand and visit the woods. Try and choose a spot downwind from your stand and cover the products you produce with soil or at least the undergrowth. Burn any paper you use, so take a lighter, not matches, with you.

When you’re done, use some antibacterial odor product or unscented hand sanitizer to clean up.



Can you smoke in the tree stand while hunting deer?

If you’ve got to smoke, you’ll have to, but it’s not advised. If you’re a smoker, build your stand as high as possible, and maybe you won’t alert the deer with your nicotine smell. Maybe.

If I sweat while hiking to the hunting spot, will I disturb the deer?

You will alert the deer. Dress lightly, even if it’s cold, and bring additional layers in your pack. Walk at a slow pace to minimize the chance of sweating. In warm weather, it even makes sense to head out to your stand wearing shorts and change when you get there.

Is it true that scent control is only a gimmick for retailers to sell more items?

Absolutely not. If you believe that statement, deer will love you, and you won’t be taking any home. Read about a deer’s sense of smell and how much better it is than a human’s or even a dog’s.


In Closing

Now you should know much more about how to control scent while deer hunting. Everything I’ve mentioned is easy to implement with some dedication and motivation. Your biggest motivation will be seeing the deer in your sights, which may not happen without exercising the right amount of scent control.

If this guide has helped you out, why not take a look at my deer stand placement tips for more advice?

Share this post

Picture of Jack Simons

Jack Simons

Jack is a retired policeman who loves spending his free time around weapons and hunting across the state of Colorado with friends. His goal is to help newcomers find their way into the world of guns & hunting as well as review all the current best products and accessories for bow and rifle hunting.

Current Giveaway!

Subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win!
Latest Review

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss new updates on your email