Each year, at about this time, I head to the backyard and drape pieces of camouflage across the branches of a certain white pine. Sure it causes some interesting conversations among my neighbors – but the purpose goes beyond the celebration of the upcoming hunting seasons. Archery deer season is just over 4 weeks away and I need to prepare my hunting clothes. As you know the deer’s greatest defense is the nose – and to a deer we stink!
The process is as follows:
* Locate - Finding my bow hunting garb can be as challenging as pursuing the deer themselves, but usually they are stored in relatively air-tight containers in random locations around the house and garage.
* Wash – I use a sport wash that is supposedly scentless, eliminates human stench and does not add any UV brighteners that I am told makes clothing glow to animals.
* Dry – I avoid the mechanical dryer and allow the clothes to air-dry outdoors on the best perch I have – the white pine in my backyard. Hence the camo tree.
In addition to the routine with my clothes, I also take precautions with myself to further limit my scent with special soaps. Compared to some of my friends, however, I am just scratching the surface of the compulsive practices used in the pursuit of becoming invisible to a deer’s nose – I probably fall somewhere in the middle-of-the-road in the whole spectrum of scent-proofing. I will admit to having purchased some of the ‘magical’ carbon clothing that has gained a lot of popularity within the last decade, but I don’t have any in the bow hunting rotation currently.
I write about this because I was reading the August 2011 issue of Field & Stream where author Scott Bestul conducted a test with Chance the police-dog who, among other things, can track down missing people. Bestul put some common scent-control methods to the test using Chance’s nose which has 200+ million scent receptors, much closer to a deer’s nose (nearly 300 million receptors) than our own (about 5 million). The results were interesting, but I cannot say completely surprising – I have used my own bird dogs to help find arrows that have disappeared under the thick grass on a few occasions. I do not want to spoil the read for you, but will say that it does add a little light to the supposed-benefits of my own methods and it supports what my good friend, and bow hunting mentor, Dr. Dean Jackson has always told me “You just can’t fool a deer’s nose.”
So does this mean I will no longer be decorating my Camo Tree? No, not at all. I am doing no harm by continuing the tradition and I know the process adds to my anticipation of the hunts-to-come. Besides I much prefer the neighbors talking about all the camo clothes hanging from the tree rather than the lack of lawn care at my residence once the hunting seasons open.
Be sure to read Scott Bestul’s “Sniff Test” in the August 2011 issue and check out his other scent-test at www.fieldandstream.com/snifftest