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Experienced deer hunters know that more deer are scared away by human scent than just about any other factor. Truth is, one of the reasons big whitetail bucks are so hard to kill is because their keen sense of smell helps keep them out of harm’s way. Fortunately, many outdoor product manufacturers have addressed this issue, offering a wide range of products to help hunters avoid detection by deer’s well-developed olfactory sense. When shopping for scent elimination products for your next trip to the deer woods, consider 10 things that can help you be more successful in your endeavors.

This scent-free detergent from Dead Down Wind uses multiple enzymes in a biological formulation for exceptional performance at eliminating odors and stains. Walmart

Eliminating human scent starts with your hunting clothing, since that’s what you’ll be wearing to the woods or fields. Fact is, you can do everything to make your body scent-free, but if your clothes smell like a human, deer will still detect your presence and avoid your area. You might never even see them leave after getting a nose full of your repugnant (to them) human odor. Scent-free laundry detergent is a good first step in ensuring your clothes don’t cause you to miss shot opportunities. Fortunately, most are also good at washing clothes, so your clothes come out both clean and odor free. Note: Do not use fabric softener when washing or you’ll defeat the purpose of the odor-free detergent.

These dryer sheets from Scent Killer help prevent static buildup in hunting clothing while softening them and giving them a subtle forest-floor scent. Walmart

Many people use dryer sheets to keep their clothing from clinging and to make them smell fresh when they are removed from the dryer. Deer hunters should never do that—unless they use specially made odor-free dryer sheets made just for the purpose of reducing odor. Sure, having your clothing smell like a pleasant spring morning can be great during many parts of the year. But we’re talking about deer season and hunting clothing, so a little diligence is in order. Dryer sheets made specially for helping keep clothing odor-free can be another good part of your scent-free arsenal when used faithfully. If you choose not to use these, don’t use any dryer sheets at all, as those not made for the purpose will do hunters more harm than good.

This unscented body wash by Scent Killer attacks human order for long-term effectiveness while in your deer stand. Walmart

Now we’ll move away from the clothing to the actual human body, which can get quite fragrant on some deer hunts. A shower with Irish Spring before heading out to the deer woods might make you smell “fresh and clean as a whistle,” but it’s likely to run off every deer in your hunting area. Specially designed scent-free body wash not only cleanses your body, but also helps bolster your scent-free regimen. That’s because most of these products have an anti-bacterial component, and bacteria on your skin is often what causes humans to have an odor in the first place. One important note here: It’s not good enough to just buy scent-free body wash, you must use it for it to be effective. It’s easy to talk a good game concerning scent control, but much harder to be diligent in using these products before every hunt.

This Scent-A-Way liquid shampoo can also be used as a body wash, eliminating the need to carry two bottles on your deer hunting travels. Walmart

Your head—unless you are completely bald—can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause human odor, which is a sure sign to deer to leave the area. Same goes for a big beard or lots of hair on your body and/or chest. These areas require special attention. Scent-free shampoo is the answer in this case. Like body wash, it is formulated to help make you as scent-free as possible before you head to the woods. Many scent-free shampoos can also be used as body wash and even hand soap. That’s important because a scented hand soap in camp can erase all of your other efforts to be scent-free. Some kinds of scent-free shampoo contain conditioner to leave your hair soft and more manageable—if you even care about that when in the deer woods.

This antiperspirant/deodorant from Dead Down Wind allows you to stop odor right at the source and is also safe for sensitive skin. Walmart

Most hunters are well aware that the armpits play a special role in human body odor. That’s why many companies make specialized deodorant and anti-perspirant just for hunters to use during their pre-hunt preparation. A white-tailed deer has about 300 million scent receptors, compared to 5 million for humans. So, trust me, a deer can easily smell your normal Degree anti-perspirant through three layers of clothing from many yards away. If you’re not going to be showering often—a situation that occurs frequently at some hunting camps—take your scent-free deodorant along and reapply it a couple of times during the day. That might just give you the edge you need when a big bruiser of a buck starts heading your way.

This Ozone Gear Bag by Scent Crusher uses the power of ozone to destroy odors and bacteria, helping to eliminate unwanted smells before the hunt. Walmart

Here’s where many new deer hunters make their critical mistake. They’ve worked hard to make their clothing scent-free, showered and washed their hair with specialized shampoo, and even applied scent-free deodorant. Now they put their clothing on, jump in the truck and head for their hunting location, stopping along the way to buy gas and get a greasy breakfast. By the time they get to their hunting spot, their clothing already smells like humans and human-related activities. Best practice is, after washing and drying your clothing, store them in a scent-proof bag of some kind to keep your odor, along with gas and bacon smells, as far away from them as possible. Some storage bags made for hunting clothing even use specialized technology to eliminate human odor from clothes after they have already been worn.

This scent-free clothing spray for Wildlife Research Center uses a specialized blend of advanced odor fighting ingredients to eliminate many kinds of unwanted smells. Walmart

Once at your hunting area, it’s time to dress in your clothes you’ll be wearing to your deer stand. They should already be mostly scent-free, although just putting them on will cause them to have some odor. Using a good clothing spray over all of your clothing—don’t forget your hat—will help further contain odor while on your stand. Many people even spray it on occasionally while in their stand, just to keep odors at bay during the course of the day. Some hunters choose to use clothing spray on their hunting clothes immediately after they get them out of the dryer, and then hang them out on the patio to completely air dry. As mentioned earlier, deer have an incredible sense of smell. Taking extra precautions to avoid being detected is always prudent.

These absorbent Scentwicks from Hunters Specialties can be dipped in cover scent and hung on a nearby limb—a perfect way to deploy many kinds of cover scents. Walmart

While this discussion so far has been entirely about scent-elimination products, other products made to mask your scent by providing a smell deer like can also be used to your advantage when trying to fool a wary buck. Such “cover” scents range from fresh earth odor to deer urine, to fox urine and nearly everything in between. Other popular scents use acorn, apple or other food smells to cover up any human scent you might be emitting. In most cases, a little bit of cover scent poured on the ground a few yards downwind of your stand will be carried farther downwind and hopefully fool any buck coming your way into smelling the cover scent and not yours. Scents like doe-in-heat urine products can even attract bucks, along with covering your human scent.

This “autumn formula” clothing spray is chemically blended with the scent of autumn woods and fields, giving it a fresh fragrance. Walmart

Other good “cover” scents fall into the category of seasonal scents. These scents come in many different odor-masking products for hunting, ranging from soap to shampoo to clothing spray. Some are designed to smell like fall fields or fall woods. Since most attack human odor while also providing somewhat of a cover scent, these can be quite effective at bolstering deer hunter success. Just be sure you don’t use them during a different season than they are made to imitate, or their odors might throw up a red flag when a deer smells them and realizes it is an outside scent that shouldn’t be there.

This scent elimination kit contains laundry detergent, bar soap, field spray and lip balm, all in one package. Walmart

By now, you’ve likely figured out that a good scent-control regimen is critical for deer hunting. And you are probably wondering whether you should buy all of the products mentioned or just a select few. Fortunately, some manufacturers make that decision much easier than you might think. Complete scent elimination kits, combining a number of the critical scent-control products discussed here, are available and offer an easy way to get many of the products you need all at once, and on a budget. Be sure to carefully look over the product description on scent elimination kits so you know exactly what you are getting before making a purchase. Compare a few to determine exactly which one is right for your new scent-control regimen.

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