Brad Harvey: Scent control for keepin’ stink off

news@lakewyliepilot.comNovember 12, 2012 

— There are two types of deer hunters. Those who pay little or no attention to scent control and those who go overboard with it.

From scent-eliminating sprays to carbon-infused clothing that is supposed to “soak up” any odors that may tip off a deer to your presence, today’s deer hunter has literally hundreds of scent-related products that are begging for your dollar. Do they actually work or simply provide you with a confidence boost? Well, yes and yes.

Most of the products do work to some degree.

Carbon clothing

The first of the scent-control items to hit the market were the popular carbon suits.

Carbon, the fancy term those companies like to use because the word charcoal sounds cheaper, does attract and hold scent. Consider it a containment system of sorts.

However, it has to be reactivated, usually by the heat of your dryer, and the effectiveness fades with usage and multiple reactivations.

On top of that, only some of your scent is ever going to be held by the material even when it’s new.

That doesn’t seem to make much sense considering the outrageous prices that these garments carry. Some approach several hundred dollars!

Silver fabrics

The “latest and greatest” in the realm of “no stink” clothing uses silver that’s impregnated in the fabric.

Didn’t realize that silver gets rid of smells? Well, it does. But, don’t go rubbing your mama’s fine silver all over your body before you go hunting.

Silver works in an entirely different manner than carbon. Instead of absorbing, it attacks on a molecular level to destroy the odor altogether. These types of “hunt wear” are quickly taking over the garment end of the industry for two good reasons.

No. 1 is because it doesn’t need reactivation and its odor attacking capabilities don’t fade with time or use. No. 2 is it’s way less expensive.

But, again, it can’t mask your scent entirely, despite the many claims that these companies make.

Still, some brands make outrageous claims or utilize catch phrases such as “Hunt 360” or “Forget the wind. Just hunt.” That’s insane.

That’s because the majority of odor your body puts out comes from your head.

Both your breath and the oils that come from your hair are responsible for the majority of it and a deer can smell them for hundreds of yards downwind from your position.

Glowing detergents

Even with that knowledge, it makes plenty of sense to wear scent-prevention clothing.

Of course, those clothes need washing at some point. What should you use? Now, you don’t think these companies would overlook a potential money maker do you?

Run through any outdoors retailer and you’ll find a selection of laundry detergents that are “specially formulated” to remove offensive odors.

Let’s see… laundry detergent designed to remove your sweaty stench, huh? Aren’t they all? But Tide and other detergents are full of perfumes that are a dead giveaway to a deer’s nose.

Also, it’s important to find a detergent with “UV killers” that get rid of ultraviolet brighteners that most fabrics are manufactured with and grocery store detergents are full of.

Remember the old black lights that became popular back in the 70s? Those things would make the lighter colors on your clothes seem to glow under the light. Deer actually see these UV effects even in daylight, making you stick out like a sore thumb despite the camouflage pattern of your clothing.

Liquid spray

One of the most popular types of stench killers comes in a liquid spray. There are plenty of these out there as well, but I’ve only had experience with two.

Wildlife Research Center’s spray is touted as having been proven 99 percent effective at stopping “replicated” human odor in a study performed at Rutgers University.

That one kind of confuses me. What’s “replicated” human odor? Were there not enough actual people around to use as samples?

I tried it on clothing that had been worn to a smoky bar and, sure enough, it took away the smell for a while.

I can’t tell you how long it actually works. I just noticed that, several days later, the cigarette smell was back albeit to a much less degree.

Another type is Primos “Control Freak,” and this is my personal favorite. I’ve been using it since it was previously marketed under the name “Silver XP” and it won me over when I tried something that they did in their old commercials for it.

In it, old Will Primos attacks the aforementioned competition by stating, “Some companies claim that their product is 100 percent effective at stopping odor and that’s simply not true.”

He goes on to ask you to test his product by placing “deer attractant” soaked cotton balls in little cups. If you’re not familiar with deer attractants, let me go ahead and tell you that it’s typically bottled deer urine and pretty darn rank if you just happen to run it by your nose.

I took him up on the challenge and gave it a try. I’ve gotta say that I was impressed.

After spraying the cotton balls liberally — I thought it only fair — I couldn’t smell a thing. But, it too regained some of its foulness after several days. It was still a whole lot less than in its original potent form.

Obviously, these weren’t big experiments performed in a lab but they really did the trick on my nose.

The only problem there is that my nose isn’t the one we’re really trying to fool and that old buck sports one heckuva sniffer.

In that same commercial, Mr. Primos goes on to explain that nothing on the market can take the place of good woodsmanship and I believe that this is where the real lesson lies.

You see, at best, all of these newfangled scent stoppers can only remove a percentage of what your body is putting off.

Nothing can ever take the place of you having the common sense not to wear your hunting clothes into the local grill when you’re going to lunch or warming yourself up by the fire before you venture out.

Most of all, the biggest advantage that you can give yourself is to know the direction that your odor is being carried and hunt accordingly with the wind in your favor.

Good luck!

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors.

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