Ryan Aulenbacher was recently awarded Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year. His buck nicknamed Mr. Photogenic graces the cover of the September 2016 edition of Outdoor Life.
I’ve been obsessed with being scent-free since I was 12. For my first hunt I didn’t want to put my gear in with all my dad’s stuff that was stored in a suitcase in the garage year round. Gas, oil, you name it was in that garage, no way I wanted that on my hunting clothes. I stored my hand-me-down blaze orange jacket in a large black garbage bag and before I tied it shut I threw a handful of leaves in it (luckily nowadays we have Scent Wafers™ for a much cleaner option!) I’ve been hooked on scent control ever since.
I have a pretty controlled regiment when it comes to scent control. Spraying before you go out everyone understands. But are you taking the necessary steps before and after the hunt?
• Wash another small load of laundry using Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent BEFORE washing your hunting clothes. Scent-A-Way Detergent works so well you should have no problem doing all of your laundry in it. The extra load will make sure to wash out any UV brighteners and perfumes from normal detergents left in the washing machine. So, make sure to wash some clothes before your camo (your spouse will thank you for the extra help!). If you are anything like me, I’m always in need of finding some ways to make my wife smile in the fall too.
• Get a Scent-Safe™ Deluxe Travel Bag; it has double zippers, basically airtight with a metallic liner. It’s like Fort Knox for your clothes. Put your gear in it immediately after washing it with confidence. No, a plastic storage tub that normally houses your Christmas decorations isn’t keeping your gear scent-free. A shot of Scent-A-Way spray on your hands before you grab your gear isn’t a bad idea either!
• Before you leave the house to go out into the woods, do yourself a favor and use Scent-A-Way Shampoo/Body Wash and Deodorant. During the season it’s all I use, even when I’m not hunting. To me it's not a good idea to add perfumes from other soaps to my body throughout the week when I'm not hunting.
During-Hunt Field Tips:
First things first - spray your hands down so you don’t get your scent all over everything. There's no sense in adding your hand scent to every piece of gear you are taking out to hunt with.
• Make extra sure to spray articles of clothing inside and out that touch your skin directly. This includes hat, gloves, etc. I also spray the inside and outside (bottoms) of my rubber boots.
• Once in the woods I spray down my bow lift rope because my hands often are sweaty from the walk in. I make sure its not hanging down by the ground when I am hunting. I string it to my stand so it’s never at nose level.
• Spray your hands again before doing anything.
• Make sure to spray your clothes before putting them back into your Scent-Safe Deluxe Travel Bag after the hunt. If you do that you’ll be in good shape and on your way to scent freedom! If you want to take it another step further, keep reading.
• The reason I’m big on spraying down clothes before I put them back in my Scent-Safe Bags is that I usually have other clothes in the bag that I didn’t wear that day. I don't want to contaminate them.
• A unique part of my process is I typically don’t put my base layers in the scent containment bags with my outer layers after the hunt. I typically have a separate bag to use for under layers (I have 3 Scent-Safe bags). If any of your clothes are going to have human scent on them, it will be your base layer. There's no sense in putting those in with your outer layers and contaminating the whole lot. I wash base layers at an impractical rate as well.
• I also keep gloves and hats separate from outer layers since they have direct skin contact. I always make sure to spray the inside AND outside of these items. I use a HEALTHY dose of spray on them when putting them back in the bag.
• My last tip is something I have been doing since my first hunting season when I was 12. At times I will put some Scent Wafers in my Scent-Safe Deluxe Travel Bags to impart a cover scent on my clothes. Trust me, it works. Like I said in the beginning of this blog, when I was 12 I put some leaves in a black kitchen garbage bag with my clothes that I took to deer camp in Northern WI. I ended up killing a nice little 9 pointer that was almost on top of me once I figured out how to get my safety off with gloves on.
I hate having to wait for a correct wind, and there are only so many days us average Joe's can get out in the woods. So, I do the things needed to be scent-free because deer rarely come in from the angle you want even with the right wind.
Good luck out there!