Having one of the greatest white-tail deer herds can make one a little complacent. But before 180 class deer roamed the fields of Soggy Bottom, things were pretty challenging trying to get close to big deer. The #1 culprit for any deer hunter is scent, no question. You'll miss more deer you never see because they smelled you and never came near. While camo and being quiet are important, a deer can smell you long before you he can see you or hear you - their sense of smell is that good. No, it's that great. He can smell parts-per-millions we can't so you've got to take every advantage possible to overcome his superior sense.
Start thinking this way: deer take caution to any scent that is not ordinary to them. So if there are scents they are used to, that is what you need to align your scent management. So consider surroundings when managing your gear and how it will smell in the field. Will it smell like Old Spice? Marlboro? Corn? You and your clothes will smell like something - the question is what?
So if you're going to try to get near deer you have to take scent management a lot more seriously. We've got some tips here for you that will be sure to help you get closer to big deer more often. And remember, they're big deer for a reason - they've lived a long time which means they haven't been fooled by a hunter yet.
First up - scent killer detergent for your clothes and gear. Everything gets washed in it - hat, gloves, base layers, pants, under wear, socks, pants, coats, shirts - everything. If you're going to wear it when hunting and it's not your boots, wash it in some scent killing detergent.
Dry your gear with a couple of fresh earth scent dryer sheets. Your clothes will literally small like a fresh dug hole and they will not smell like the Snuggle bear. That's good because fresh earth is what a scrape smells like (so long as he hasn't peed in it).
Take your gear out of the dryer and put it in a trash bag. If you've been putting corn out, take the sacks you get from the feed store and shake them out in the trash bag with your clothes. That will get the corn smell into your clothes - remember - he is looking for unfamiliar scents vs familiar scents.
We know a guy that is so crazy he has his feed store mix peanut butter powder with all of his corn and then puts peanut butter powder in the trash bag with his clothes. That might sound extreme, but it's an advantage that's legal.
Try not to handle your clothes with your hands if possible too - some of what you're about to read is borderline insanity but the story at the end makes it worth it.
If you're hunting in an area where deer are working and walking through pines, take fresh pine needles and crumple them in your hands and fold them in between all your clothes. At this point your clothes smell like fresh earth and pine, and likely corn and peanut butter, and it's all legal. If these are scents your deer are used to then you should be able to get closer to more deer.
In terms of gear, we like Scent Lok a lot. It's pricey but it's good stuff.
Why all this insanity? Because deer are hard to hunt when they're timid to go into a field because they smell something they're not used to.
Bring an extra pair of socks in your gear bag. And you do carry a gear bag, don't you? But when you get to your stand and your feet are all sweaty, change socks and pack your socks away. Your feet will feel better and there is less sweat and sent on you.
Take a shower with scent killing soap and shampoo. Scrub yourself, get scents off you as best you can. Use a towel that you wash and dry with your gear too - so now you're wiping down your wet body with a towel that smells like fresh earth.
Wear scent killing deodorant and antiperspirant. That will help keep your pits from getting clammy and sweat equals scent. The less smell you create, the less smell there will be for the deer.