By Josh Lantz
Elite deer hunters employ a carefully planned scent-control regimen to maintain an advantage over a whitetail’s incredible nose. When properly executed, the rewards include closer shots and more opportunities.
Today’s scent-controlling carbon hunting apparel really is a technological marvel, and forms the foundation for almost every successful overall scent-control strategy. But carbon clothing is only as effective as the hunter who wears it. A variety of considerations must be made to maximize its performance and results. Leave out a single step, and you are giving away your power and, ultimately, opportunities.
If you’ve experienced inconsistent results with scent-control clothing, you’re doing something wrong. So stop blaming your carbon apparel and start giving it the chance to accomplish what it was designed to do. Follow these ten steps for maximum success.
1. Clean your body
An effective scent-control regimen starts at home before the hunt ever begins. Wash your hair and skin thoroughly with fragrance-free hygiene products. This is the first step in combatting the odor-causing bacteria your body produces on a daily basis. These alarming body odors are easily detectable by whitetail deer and other big game, so start each hunt with a “clean slate”.
2. Store carbon clothing properly
Carbon clothing is constantly adsorbing odors from its surroundings. To prevent contamination and reserve capacity between hunts, carbon clothing should be stored and transported in an airtight container or ozone storage bag.
3. Wash and spray your hunting packs regularly and store them properly
Hunting packs quickly turn into human scent bombs, and are a common culprit in blown hunts. Wash packs frequently in odorless detergent, and store and transport them inside an airtight container. Better yet, destroy odors on your hunting packs by keeping them in an ozone-generating container. Touch-up your hunting pack with Field Spray every time it comes into contact with bare skin or is exposed to ambient odors.
4. Care for your carbon clothing properly
Common mistakes relative to the care of carbon hunting apparel include over washing, which can weaken seams and reduce capacity over time, as well as not reactivating garments properly or with enough frequency. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for best results. ScentLok recommends washing their apparel only to remove “mud or blood”. While occasional time in the washing machine on a gentle cycle is okay, it’s best to spot wash carbon apparel by hand. This preserves the life of the fabric, the seams that hold the carbon material in place, and the carbon itself. Reactivating carbon clothing involves the use of heat and agitation to remove trapped odor molecules from the pores of the carbon material, and is critical for maximum odor adsorption.
ScentLok recommends reactivating their garments in a household dryer at least once for every 40 hours of field use. For example, if you hunt for four hours a day and return your clothing to airtight storage after each hunt, you won’t need to reactivate for 10 days of hunting. Reactivation is accomplished by cycling carbon clothing in a household dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. Reactivation can also be achieved through the use of an ozone storage bag or tote. However you reactivate, be sure to shake out your clothing after it comes out of the dryer or ozone storage.
5. Dress for your hunt in the field, away from your vehicle
As stated earlier, carbon clothing is constantly adsorbing odors from its surroundings. To reduce the possibility of contamination by ambient odors, and to reserve the scent-adsorbing capacity of your garments for the hunt, dress in the field and away from your vehicle.
6. Wear tall, rubber or neoprene boots
Everyone knows that feet produce a lot of odor, so make sure your boots aren’t letting you down by giving you up. Boots made from leather, Cordura, nylon and other porous materials breathe, meaning they let air and moisture in and out. If air or moisture are escaping, so are odors. Rubber or neoprene boots are non-porous and do a better job of keeping odors contained inside. Hunting socks that help prevent foot odor are another form of “cheap insurance.”
7. Wear your carbon pants over your boots
Hunters who tuck their pant legs into their boots—even rubber boots—allow air and odors to escape through the top with every step. Pants should be worn over the boots. This provides 6-10-inches of activated carbon material to adsorb odors that escape from the tops of the boots.
9. Wear carbon gloves
Think about everything you touch from the time you leave your vehicle to hunt to the time you return. Wearing scent-adsorbing carbon gloves is a no-brainer.
10. Wear a carbon head cover with an attached facemask that covers your hair, mouth and nose.
Your head is a literal scent bomb of human odor, primarily due to normal respiration and the concentration of oils produced by your hair and skin. You breathe from your mouth or nose, so it’s important to cover those areas with scent-adsorbing material. Full-coverage models that cover the mouth, nose and hair are the best option. If your carbon facemask or head cover does not completely cover your hair, also wear a scent-adsorbing cap.