Finally! After a long layoff, we are getting back into the woods. Many of us who venture in the sweltering deer stands or ground blinds of early bow season are doing so unprepared. Many of us spent the offseason fishing, lounging around and just waiting on deer season to open again. But early season may just be the best opportunity of the year to get that buck you have been chasing. After the long layoff, bucks are predictable and easily patterned. Now is the time to use your knowledge and skill to put that arrow where it needs to be. But with the temperature in triple digits, how can we really keep mature bucks from smelling us when there is little hope of controlling our perspiration?
It begins with when we hunt. Afternoons or mornings? Many bow hunters ignore mornings, thinking that the afternoons are best in the early season. But the opposite may be true. In places where bow season opens in August or September, temperatures are just as uncomfortable for them as for us. Cool morning temperatures are typically more pleasant than the afternoons. Deer do not like the intense heat of the day any more than we do. The cooler morning temperatures tend to allow bucks to lazily wander back to their beds. After months of not having pressure, a cool morning will often bring bucks by your stand more consistently than afternoon hunts will.
Vicki Cianciarulo, co-host of Archer’s Choice and The Choice television shows, is perhaps the most accomplished female hunter on television. Vicki has spent an inordinate amount of time in the field during early season in her almost thirty years on television. Vicki says that one of the most important elements of early season is scent control. “Being able to keep the deer from smelling you is essential.” She goes on to say that she and her husband, Ralph, have a regimen of laundry, bathing, spraying everything down and wearing the right clothes to keep perspiration at a minimum. She explains that hunting in the wind is more critical in the early season than at any other time. Myron Williams is another hunter who relies on the sprays from Wildlife Research to help mask his scent during the early season. “Scent Killer Gold Hunt Dry is a must for early season,” Williams says. “Spray it on, let it dry and go hunt.” Williams stresses that he will not hunt early season without Wildlife Research sprays to mask his perspiration on stand. “I will take a spray bottle with me to stand and every ten minutes or so, I will lightly spray myself down. The mist cools me off, and the spray helps to mask any perspiration I may have had in the meantime.”
“My regimen is simple,” Williams says. “I bathe in Wildlife Research body wash, use Wildlife Research antiperspirant, and spray everything down with the Scent Killer Gold. And lastly, I make sure I spray my weapon. My bow, backpack, and even the stand seat is sprayed, along with my boots.” Williams emphasizes that you cannot fool a mature buck’s nose, but doing everything you can to control your scent is a must.
Hunting in early season is challenging for many reasons. Controlling your scent is important all times of the year, but more difficult during the early season when temperatures are extreme. Using human odor-masking agents, washes and sprays can help hide your odor.
Lastly, perhaps the most important factor is controlling your access to your stand. Wearing rubber-soled boots will leave as little trace as possible behind. Even still, spraying the bottom and top of your rubber boots with a cover spray is a great idea to leave no trace.
Several years ago, I got to where I could not bear the heat any longer and had to devise something. So now, I always carry a small battery-operated fan with me to my stand. It isn’t much, only about six inches in diameter, but the movement of air is so refreshing that it is worth the trouble. Two D batteries will run on high for over forty hours. I painted it black and it stays in my pack. Unless I am hunting from a pop-up ground blind, then I take the big 10” battery fan! It is essential for those long, hot sits. The white noise of the fan running has never spooked deer that I am aware of. I have killed a lot of deer with the fan blowing on me, and had I not had this fan, I probably would not have been there in the first place.
We cannot eliminate our human odor completely, especially during the early season, but by employing some of these tactics and the high quality from Wildlife Research, we can stack the odds in our favor.