September 02, 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.
Bushnell | Archer
Lately, I've been wearing the Archer from Bushnell Performance Footwear
. These boots are designed with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation (they also have the uninsulated Bucktale boots), a Dual Density Heel Cushioning System, are fleece lined, and 100 percent waterproof. To help with odor control, each features ScentMask Odor Elimination.
Cabela's | Scent-Free Rubber Boots
Another great option for the bowhunter looking to take advantage of the scent control that knee-high boots offer is available through Cabela's. Their Scent-Free 400-gram Thinsulate Rubber Boots
are 18 inches tall, 5.6 pounds per pair, and clad in Cabela's Zonz Woodlands camouflage. Each pair is designed with ankle-fit construction, bob-style outsoles for better traction, and are as scent-free as they come.
LaCrosse | AeroHead
I've spent plenty of time scouting and hunting deer, hanging cameras, baiting bears, and generally tromping around while wearing the AeroHead from LaCrosse Footwear
. These boots are 100 percent waterproof, 18 inches tall, weigh 4 pounds per pair, and are offered in in two models — 3.5mm or 7mm, which refers to the thickness of naturally insulating neoprene. AeroHeads are comfortable and extremely tough, which is something I put to the test while baiting bears last summer.
I was in a hurry and had to move a fencepost to park in a friend's field. The post was meant to keep people out. When I went to kick the post back into place, the bottom of the post hit a rock and part of the post went clear through my AeroHead and into my foot. I figured my AeroHeads were now no longer waterproof, but I was wrong. Like my foot, they self-healed and remain waterproof to this day.
130 (3.5mm) or $
Lethal | Human Scent Elminator Field Spray & Activator
Lethal's Human Scent Eliminator Field Spray & Activator
is ideal for erasing scent on your boots. Developed by chemists, the two-part system contains a spray bottle and a concentrated activator that, when combined, creates a permanent binding effect to erase odors. The ability to activate this product yourself ensures that you know it's fresh and ready to fight odors.
Primos | Control Freak
Primos also has its hand in the scent-control game, and few products are better for dousing those knee-highs than their new Control Freak
line of products. Control Freak provides dual action against bacterial and nonbacterial odors, ensuring you're covered no matter what stinky things you encounter (or produce). Control Freak is formulated to provide up to 24 hours of deer-fooling coverage.
Hunter's Specialties | Scent-A-Way MAX
Another quality option for spritzing down your favorite boots (or all clothing and gear) comes from Hunter's Specialties
. Their new Scent-A-Way MAX
is formulated with activated odor scrubbers to attract and then attack odors at the molecular level. MAX is available in either Odorless or Fresh Earth, and can be purchased in a 12- or 32-oz. spray bottle, or in a Continuous Spray aerosol can that will spray upside down.
5.29 (12 oz.); $
8.99 (32 oz.); $
7.29 (Continuous Spray)
Robinson Outdoor | Trinity Blast Scent Eliminator
Plenty of us know about scent control through our use of Robinson Outdoor Products' ScentBlocker
clothing, but what you may not know is they also have a new Trinity Blast
spray that employs polymeric technology to neutralize odors and prevent new odors from forming. Choose from an easy to carry 12-oz. option, or larger 24- and 32-oz. bottles.
Wildlife Research Center | Scent Killer Gold with Hunt Dry Technology
Tink's | B-Tech Odor Eliminator No Pump Spray
I've put Tink's
products through the wringer, and a few years ago while sitting on the ground, I actually had a young buck walk up and eat the grass that I was sitting in. I could have reached out and petted him. One of the main reasons he didn't know I was there was that I had just sprayed from head to toe with B-Tech before constructing a makeshift natural blind. Their B-Tech Odor Eliminator No Pump Spray
is a personal favorite because it fits in a pack better than conventional spray bottles and can be sprayed upside down.
Evolved Under Armour | Scent Elimination Spray
When two industry powerhouses come together to combat scent, you know it's going to be good. Case in point, Evolved Habitats joining forces with Under Armour to create the new Evolved Under Armour Scent Elimination
line. Each product uses a combination of Zeolites and chemical compounds to create an irreversible chemical reaction that permanently eliminates odors. The 32-oz. Scent Elimination Spray is perfect for close-to-home hunts, as well as hunts into uncharted territory.
Upwind | Odor Eliminator
An under-the-radar option for eliminating human scent comes your way via Upwind
, which uses MCC copper ion technology. This technology is extremely effective at eradicating scent, and Upwind products are biodegradable, nonirritating to skin, and last for hours. Upwind not only destroys human odor, but also odors from smoke, chemicals, food, fuel, and a litany of other game-spooking offenders.
15 (32 oz.)