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Q:
Sure deer can smell humans, but how good actually is their sense of smell? I believe that hunters use their smell as an excuse for covering up their movement mistakes. Like saying, "yeah the deer smelt me from 75 yards out and took off" when actually you moved or the deer sensed something out of place. I also believe that scent control marketers use this to sell their products. I personally have had many instances in which deer have nearly walked on top of me with the wind blowing from me towards them and they did not notice me. I once was sitting in some tall weeds and two does walked and stood for a half hour (I swear on my grave) and grazed without noticing me. 4 or 5 times while turkey hunting, I have had deer walk by me within 30 yards while I was sitting against a tree and only scatter when I moved not knowing they were there. Sure if you have god awful body odor, you will probably be detected, but if you commonly clean your self, the chances of a deer smelling you are unlikely. I feel that scent control products are unnecessary with phony advertisement. Oh, and did I mention, all of the circumstances that I mentioned of the deer walking by me, I was not wearing a scent control product and my clothing had not been washed in days and a few of the times I had not showered in 2 days. Hows that make scent control sound? What is you opinion on scent eliminator products and the deers supposed amazing ability to smell?

Question by Turkeytalk101. Uploaded on October 18, 2011

Answers (21)

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from DakotaMan wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Deer can smell real good... don't kid yourself. They are not consistent though in their reaction to human scent. Occassionally they show curiosity and continue to approach and other times they flee like a scalded ape. I agree with you wholeheartedly that more hunters are probably busted because of movement though. They seem to react consistently to that, usually fleeing rather than showing curiosity.

I personally believe that scent control helps a little. It especially helps to get up off the ground so your scent is not as strong. I also clean my exterior clothes and leave them outside in a garbage bag full of pine branches. I use masking scent over that. This of course is for hunting with a bow. With a rifle, they usually don't get close enough to smell me before I shoot them and I don't worry about scent other than to try to stay downwind of them.

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from Turkeytalk101 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I try to take some precautions such as hanging my clothes outside before deer hunting to eliminate some scent but it is not a major concern for me. I am more concerned of where the deer are than if they can smell me or not.

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from boof wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Im a strong believer in scent. I am positive I have been busted before by a deers nose from upwards of 50 yards. Other times they have walked right under my treestand with heavy wind against my back.

I guess you can never be too cautious with smell. What is $10 for a whole hunting season to mask smell? Like my dad told me when I was young, deer smell you like you smell a skunk.

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

your obviously not hunting wild deer...those deer can smell you a half mile away dont kid yourself that their noses done work. deer do not have supposed amazing smell, they DO have amazing smell. tell you what, ill take you hunting sometime for WILD deer, well see how many walk to within 30 yards of you coming from the downwind side.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

they can smell your breath from a quarter mile away! i'd say it is pretty good.

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from Treestand wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Take a hint from some old-timers by being still,staying quite,watching the wind, and taking a shower with none sented soap and cover-up spray,and quit fidgeting.you will see more and shot more Deer!

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from Treestand wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

*scented*

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

A typical whitetail deer has 5 times as many olfactory receptors than a bloodhound and has the ability to smell multiple scents at once (scent sorting). Believe what you want, but if you see a deer in the wild, it has smelled you first. Whether or not it spooks at your scent depends on numerous things, hunting pressure being one, or, if it has visually detected you. Their vision sucks, but that nose more than makes up for it.

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from huntnow wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Turkeytalk, you might have convinced yourself but I don't think anyone here is buying it. You have been very lucky in time you too will learn.

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from drc wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have used some form of scent contral eversence I started bow hunting 40+ yrs ago.I don't know for sure that it helps but I do know it's not hurting any I've killed deer as close as 5yrds.I think the best thing a hunter can do is keep his body and clothing clean.For years I would'nt use under arm deoderant during deer season but I now fill that the deoderant smell is not as offinsive to a deer as bad bo.

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from MWP_aebert wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I use scent elimination spray, but use normal hunting clothes you buy anywhere. Just this season I had a big mature doe walk by where I walked in, and I had forgetten to spray my boots. She stood there for 5 mins smelling the ground where i walked in. Ran off 10 yards, and came back and did this again.(she did this five times) and the last time she went off snorting and blowing all the way up the valley. A half hour later I had a 1 and a 1/2 year old doe go by the same spot and walked right by it. The mature doe could not see me at all and snorted. So I think the busting comes more with age and how easily the deer is spooked. Every deer is different just like humans, we pick up on different things and get scared more easily than others do.

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from 99explorer wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Turkeytalk,
In your case,it would not be possible to tell if scent control products are effective. Had you been using them at the times the deer approached closely, I think you would be giving credit to the scent control product.
Sometimes, it takes a combination of scent and sight to alarm a deer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Turkeytalk101 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

For those of you who don't believe me I was around wild deer that are commonly pressure by humans so don't say they can't recognize a human smell. I highly doubt that I have been lucky when the deer have approached me without notice on countless different hunts. And I do not wear scent control products and I even wash my clothing in common household detergent.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnow wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

You're right, you busted everyone. It's just a big myth that deer have noses. Science is stupid too. BTW, you in the market for any ocean from property?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I would say that you are as full of $%^& as a Christmas goose. Don't pee on our legs and tell us it's raining, boy. We don't want to hear about your personal hygiene.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from whitetailfreek wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Most studies I have seen report that a deer can smell from about a quarter mile away. That would be over 400 yards.

Don't kid yourself that deer can't smell a human being within that distance. Not all deer react the same way as someone previously mentioned, but when you get an old timer buck that has seen most hazards in the woods and lived from it, he has learned a hell of a lot too. Deer aren't stupid by any means.

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from thughes1133 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Deer can smell incredibly well, and will bolt based only on that sense alone, they rely it to survive. I've seen deer smell where a human had walked over 48 hours previously AND while using scent eliminator products.
Outdoor Life just listed the scent receptors a deer has and compared it to others: Human - about 5 million scent receptors; Bloodhound - about 220 million scent receptors; Deer - over 300 million scent receptors. Incredible, those long snouts will bust you everytime!

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from harvists wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

deer can smell, and yes they overdo it in the market. I am up in the woods about every day for a reason, to get my smell out there so come hunting season the deer are use to my smell, and i don't soak myself in sent killer and freeze,,, if anything like i did today bow hunting MN, forgot sent killer, and kicked the ground grabbed the fresh dirt and rubbed it all over me. use leaves, grass, pine, and dirt for (natural) sent killers saves money.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Turkeytalk has a valid point, as it is made from his personal experience. Deer can smell extremely well, but there are many factors that come into play which determine whether or not the deer will spook upon catching a smell, which validate his point. You don't necessarily in all cases have to use scent products and leave your clothes in a bag full of pine branches, or hanging out on the porch for a week, for example, in order to have a close encounter with a deer. That's all he was saying. I don't think he was refuting the point that we all understand, which is that a deer's nose is extremely powerful and that the less you smell like a human and smell more like trees the better your chances. A lot of today's shampoo smells like apples or peaches and I would bet your could bathe in that fragrant stuff and perhaps even increase your chances.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Wild mushrooms (edible or not) plus stump bold and rotten bark, also make GREAT scent covers. Grab you up a big old wild mushroom and rub it all over. You will see where they get the "fresh earth" variety scent cover sprays from :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I meant stump MOLD in that last comment.

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from boof wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Im a strong believer in scent. I am positive I have been busted before by a deers nose from upwards of 50 yards. Other times they have walked right under my treestand with heavy wind against my back.

I guess you can never be too cautious with smell. What is $10 for a whole hunting season to mask smell? Like my dad told me when I was young, deer smell you like you smell a skunk.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

they can smell your breath from a quarter mile away! i'd say it is pretty good.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Take a hint from some old-timers by being still,staying quite,watching the wind, and taking a shower with none sented soap and cover-up spray,and quit fidgeting.you will see more and shot more Deer!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

A typical whitetail deer has 5 times as many olfactory receptors than a bloodhound and has the ability to smell multiple scents at once (scent sorting). Believe what you want, but if you see a deer in the wild, it has smelled you first. Whether or not it spooks at your scent depends on numerous things, hunting pressure being one, or, if it has visually detected you. Their vision sucks, but that nose more than makes up for it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnow wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Turkeytalk, you might have convinced yourself but I don't think anyone here is buying it. You have been very lucky in time you too will learn.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Turkeytalk101 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

For those of you who don't believe me I was around wild deer that are commonly pressure by humans so don't say they can't recognize a human smell. I highly doubt that I have been lucky when the deer have approached me without notice on countless different hunts. And I do not wear scent control products and I even wash my clothing in common household detergent.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Deer can smell real good... don't kid yourself. They are not consistent though in their reaction to human scent. Occassionally they show curiosity and continue to approach and other times they flee like a scalded ape. I agree with you wholeheartedly that more hunters are probably busted because of movement though. They seem to react consistently to that, usually fleeing rather than showing curiosity.

I personally believe that scent control helps a little. It especially helps to get up off the ground so your scent is not as strong. I also clean my exterior clothes and leave them outside in a garbage bag full of pine branches. I use masking scent over that. This of course is for hunting with a bow. With a rifle, they usually don't get close enough to smell me before I shoot them and I don't worry about scent other than to try to stay downwind of them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

your obviously not hunting wild deer...those deer can smell you a half mile away dont kid yourself that their noses done work. deer do not have supposed amazing smell, they DO have amazing smell. tell you what, ill take you hunting sometime for WILD deer, well see how many walk to within 30 yards of you coming from the downwind side.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from drc wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have used some form of scent contral eversence I started bow hunting 40+ yrs ago.I don't know for sure that it helps but I do know it's not hurting any I've killed deer as close as 5yrds.I think the best thing a hunter can do is keep his body and clothing clean.For years I would'nt use under arm deoderant during deer season but I now fill that the deoderant smell is not as offinsive to a deer as bad bo.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MWP_aebert wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I use scent elimination spray, but use normal hunting clothes you buy anywhere. Just this season I had a big mature doe walk by where I walked in, and I had forgetten to spray my boots. She stood there for 5 mins smelling the ground where i walked in. Ran off 10 yards, and came back and did this again.(she did this five times) and the last time she went off snorting and blowing all the way up the valley. A half hour later I had a 1 and a 1/2 year old doe go by the same spot and walked right by it. The mature doe could not see me at all and snorted. So I think the busting comes more with age and how easily the deer is spooked. Every deer is different just like humans, we pick up on different things and get scared more easily than others do.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 99explorer wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Turkeytalk,
In your case,it would not be possible to tell if scent control products are effective. Had you been using them at the times the deer approached closely, I think you would be giving credit to the scent control product.
Sometimes, it takes a combination of scent and sight to alarm a deer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I would say that you are as full of $%^& as a Christmas goose. Don't pee on our legs and tell us it's raining, boy. We don't want to hear about your personal hygiene.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Turkeytalk has a valid point, as it is made from his personal experience. Deer can smell extremely well, but there are many factors that come into play which determine whether or not the deer will spook upon catching a smell, which validate his point. You don't necessarily in all cases have to use scent products and leave your clothes in a bag full of pine branches, or hanging out on the porch for a week, for example, in order to have a close encounter with a deer. That's all he was saying. I don't think he was refuting the point that we all understand, which is that a deer's nose is extremely powerful and that the less you smell like a human and smell more like trees the better your chances. A lot of today's shampoo smells like apples or peaches and I would bet your could bathe in that fragrant stuff and perhaps even increase your chances.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Wild mushrooms (edible or not) plus stump bold and rotten bark, also make GREAT scent covers. Grab you up a big old wild mushroom and rub it all over. You will see where they get the "fresh earth" variety scent cover sprays from :)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Turkeytalk101 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I try to take some precautions such as hanging my clothes outside before deer hunting to eliminate some scent but it is not a major concern for me. I am more concerned of where the deer are than if they can smell me or not.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

*scented*

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntnow wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

You're right, you busted everyone. It's just a big myth that deer have noses. Science is stupid too. BTW, you in the market for any ocean from property?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from whitetailfreek wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Most studies I have seen report that a deer can smell from about a quarter mile away. That would be over 400 yards.

Don't kid yourself that deer can't smell a human being within that distance. Not all deer react the same way as someone previously mentioned, but when you get an old timer buck that has seen most hazards in the woods and lived from it, he has learned a hell of a lot too. Deer aren't stupid by any means.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from thughes1133 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Deer can smell incredibly well, and will bolt based only on that sense alone, they rely it to survive. I've seen deer smell where a human had walked over 48 hours previously AND while using scent eliminator products.
Outdoor Life just listed the scent receptors a deer has and compared it to others: Human - about 5 million scent receptors; Bloodhound - about 220 million scent receptors; Deer - over 300 million scent receptors. Incredible, those long snouts will bust you everytime!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from harvists wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

deer can smell, and yes they overdo it in the market. I am up in the woods about every day for a reason, to get my smell out there so come hunting season the deer are use to my smell, and i don't soak myself in sent killer and freeze,,, if anything like i did today bow hunting MN, forgot sent killer, and kicked the ground grabbed the fresh dirt and rubbed it all over me. use leaves, grass, pine, and dirt for (natural) sent killers saves money.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Matt Naderman wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

I meant stump MOLD in that last comment.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post an Answer