Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

If you become a smell, sound, or silhouette to a whitetail, then you are a blatant advertisement of yourself. And deer will scramble to leave you alone in the woods.

  • Smell. You may think you don’t stink, but your nose is not very discerning when compared with a deer’s. From hundreds of yards away, deer can detect the scented detergent you used to wash your shirt or the fragrance of the soap you lathered with in the shower. Shaving cream and aftershave will blow a buck out of the woods. And scented deodorant is just a strong odor irritant to deer.

So, go fragrance-free when washing your clothes and yourself and when anointing your body. Also, air your hunting clothes outside overnight before putting them on. You’ll still have to pay attention to wind direction in the field. That means positioning yourself so air currents won’t carry your subtle smells into areas you’re planning to hunt.

  • Sound. When it comes to sounds most likely to give yourself away, beware of what you wear and what you step on in the woods. Dress in clothes with soft finishes. Wool and synthetic fleece are ideal materials that are quiet when rubbed against themselves or when scratched or whacked by brush. Reject noisy rubber, plastic, or nylon outer garments, including gaiters, packs, and hunting vests. And muffle the hard finish of your boots by pulling your pant legs down over them.

If the woods are carpeted with dried leaves or crusted snow, don’t walk in them. Take a stand. Let the deer do the moving. Otherwise, walk on wood roads and trails, including game trails, where wind has blown leaves clear or where human and animal traffic has crushed and softened the crunch of the ground litter.

  • ** Silhouette.** So, now you’re as scentless and soundless as possible, but you’re still a visual silhouette to a deer. You need to break up your own shape. Surprisingly, just standing still will help you disappear in most whitetails’ eyes. Their predator-warning vision is tuned to moving shapes.

It also helps to break up your silhouette with clothes of mottled colors that make you blend with the natural surroundings. Camo garments are effective at erasing most of your shape, although a hunter’s orange vest may outline part of your body. Remember that the vest is a blaze of color to another hunter, but it’s just a blotch of gray to a deer.

Remember, if you are heard or seen, you might get away with your error by standing still. If you are heard and seen or winded, you’re done.