Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Insanity of Scent Control

I recently read an article on setting up a "scent control whitetail hunting room".  The article included suggestions such as dedicated lockers for your gear, a boot dryer, a dedicated clothing dryer to "refresh your carbon-based scent blocking clothing", an ozone generator, a "family" of scent blocking soaps, shampoos, detergents and scent-free deodorant, all of which combine to cover or eliminate your scent to avoid detection by game animals.

While I fully appreciate that hunters are an obsessive lot, this, ladies and gentlemen, is simply stupid.  (I also appreciate it is helpful to have casual mentions of your advertisers' products in articles in your magazine.)

Let me let you in on a little secret that might have alluded you since the 2nd grade or puberty, which ever came first.... we stink.  Not only do we stink but we tend to stink more and more as the day goes on.  Try masking the odor of 3-4 burly men in the mountains after 4 days of elk hunting, camp fire smoke, spilled coffee, no running water, no showers and lots of beans???  It simply can't be done.

The nose of a whitetail deer (and similar beasts) is estimated to be 500-1,000 times more sensitive to smells than our noses.  This has to do with increased surface area of their nasal cavities, increased density of "smell collecting cells" and more dedicated brain power as a percentage of gray matter for the processing of smells.

Even if you could eliminate 99.9% of the scent on your clothes (which you can't), you are still going to be breathing, shedding skin cells, and growing a bumper crop of bacteria throughout the day to the point you will literally REEK and WILL be detected by a deer, elk or pretty much any non-brain dead mammal if they are downwind of you.

I did a bit of research on just a few sources of stench.  In human breath alone, there are hundreds of compounds that change throughout the day and which depend on your genetic make-up and on your diet.  In a riveting study called "Variations in volatile organic compounds in the breath of normal humans", the researchers noted the AVERAGE person in study (50 folks total) had ~204 different VOCs in their breath.  3,481 VOCs were detected with 1,753 having higher concentrations than the normal concentration in air.  27 were common to all 50 folks.

And that is just the smelly plume coming out of your mouth (an area never covered by "scent-absorbing clothing").  Imaging the horrors coming out of your other orifices (nether regions if you are in polite company; body holes, if you are from East Texas; bung hole if you are from Point Blank, Texas.)

Scent blocking clothing manufacturers have been found guilty of false advertising and in a MythBuster test and in a good old Field and Stream article, the silliness of trying to control your scent to fool a keen animal has been shown time and time again.

So, instead of buying a $299 ozone generator and literally pouring money down the drain with "scent control" products aimed at the desperate, naive hunter, why not spend nothing and be more mindful of the direction of the wind and do what you can to use it to your favor?


A Man in the Woods

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