The Best New Scent Control Products for 2014

For the first decade of my bowhunting career I wore leather boots while hunting. That's what my dad wore, and so that is what I wore. During that time there were two things I could count on as near absolutes in the deer woods. The first was that any deer that got downwind of me would surely live to see another day. The second was that just about every deer that hit my entrance trail would turn inside out and leave.

That led us to pretty much write off two different areas around our stands, especially if we weren't perched on a ridge or along a river where our downwind side would be relatively safe from approaching deer. It also led to a lot of frustration.

Eventually we started wearing knee-high rubber boots that we would treat with a scent-eliminating spray. The transition to rubber boots changed how we bowhunted, and it was a relief to sit on stand and watch approaching deer, knowing they were far less likely to go on red alert once they crossed our paths.

Scent control in its many forms is always up for debate, largely because we can't see scent and therefore have to make judgment calls based on our experience. I've gone back and forth on this issue quite a bit, but I do believe wholeheartedly in this simple combination for erasing my trail as I travel to and from my stands.

This was driven home to me while training my last dog to find shed antlers. I realized pretty quickly that she was using my scent trail to lead her right to the hidden bone. To test out my belief in rubber boots and scent-eliminating spray, I started training her after I donned the boots and doused them with different sprays. The reaction was immediate, and instead of taking a nearly straight line through the prairie grass to the antler, she would course into the wind like she was supposed to. I do realize that this was far from scientific, but anyone who knows dogs and deer understands that there is something to the results.

Ever since then I've been a firm believer in wearing rubber boots as long into the season as I can (before it gets too cold), and I've upped my game by spending more time on my entrance and exit routes to ensure that I give myself the best chance of going undetected. While I still play the wind during every sit and do employ a lot of other scent-control measures, my success has gone up.

This simple approach to scent control offers an added benefit as well. While it certainly helps during the immediate hunt, I also believe this approach cuts down on the cumulative effects of being in the woods too often. I can't imagine a mature buck, or doe for that matter, tolerating too much human intrusion of any sort in a place where they just aren't used to human activity.

Serious whitetail hunters are always cognizant of burnout when it comes to stand sites, but that concern should also be applied to their cumulative presence in the woods. This all starts with the right boots.

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