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Scent-control secrets you just can’t buy!

by Babe Winkelman

The aisles at the sporting goods store are full of hunting scent products. I feel HS Scent-A-Way laundry detergent, deodorant, sprays and scent wafers definitely give me an edge when going up against the keen nose of a whitetail.

Bottled attractants and scent-control products (from curiosity scents to deer urines and gland secretions) all have their place in the field and help humans smell like – well – nothing, if used right. But, there are other ways to boost your success by masking your human smell and adding natural scents. Most of us walk right by great scent-related opportunities. Next time, put some of these tactics to work for you!

Walking In – While on your way to your spot, keep your eyes and nose open for cover scent. As long as you don’t mind getting some “sticky” on your clothes, put some sap from an oozing pine tree on your pant legs, jacket, and even your hat. The crisp smell of pine sap is 100% natural and not unpleasant (like skunk essence or fox urine). You’ll smell like Christmas all day long.

As you continue, be sure to smoosh your boot in any fresh deer droppings you find to help cover your scent trail going in and out. If your hunting location is rich with apples, acorns or agricultural crops like corn or soybeans, make use of them! Slice an apple and rub the juice on your pant cuffs – or heck – even under your armpits. Eat the apple to mask the scent in your breath. Bust up acorns, corn or soybeans in your pockets to emit scent.

On a recent deer hunt, with the bucks in full rut, I came up on a scrape so fresh I smelled it. It reeked of urine and tarsal secretions.

The soil was still soaking wet, along with the licking branch overhead. If you find fresh buck scent, it’s worth its weight in gold.

Keep some ZipVac vacuum bags in your pack (along with a portable ZipVac hand pump) to bag the soil and licking branch.

Vacuum out the air to prevent evaporation, and take both to your stand. It’s a dynamite tactic during the rut!

Do the same on droppings or even bark shavings from a recently-rubbed tree. Rubs are both visual AND scent sign posts, rich with secretions from the buck’s pre-orbital glands.

At Your Stand or ground blind, place your scents strategically for wind direction, deer travel, shooting lanes, etc. Then scuff up the soil to unlock the smell of the soil and decomposing leaves.

In addition to helping to mask your scent, the smell of fresh earth can communicate two things to a deer: something has been pawing the ground to feed, or a buck has unearthed a scrape in the area.

After The Shot - If anyone shoots a buck or doe, take a few things before dragging it to the meat pole. Remove the bladder and empty the contents into a clean bottle labeled “buck” or “doe.” It’s tough to compete with 100% fresh!

Remove the tarsal glands and put them in one of your bags. Using gauze or cotton balls, “swab, bag, and label” both the pre-orbital glands (located at the forward corners of the eyes); the interdigital glands (between the front hooves) and fresh saliva from inside the mouth. All of these scents combined make up the authentic smell of a live deer you can use to maximize your chances.

At the end of a hunt, re-bag and vacuum the items in the same labeled bags, then get them in a refrigerator or cooler to keep the scents fresh for the next day’s hunt.

Babe Winkelman is a nationally-known outdoorsman who has taught people to fish and hunt for nearly 30 years. Watch his award-winning “Good Fishing” and “Outdoor Secrets” television shows on Versus Network, Fox Sports or Wild TV. Visit www.winkelman.com for air times where you live.