By Pete Rogers
The afternoon sun was scorching hot. Temperatures were near triple digits, and my clothes were soaked with sweat.
August 15th is the traditional opening day of deer season along the coastal plain of South Carolina. The opening day is always merged with searing heat and oppressive humidity.
Controlling your scent in these conditions is a challenge at best, and impossible at worst.
Let’s face it, with temperatures this high, there is no way to eliminate your scent. But there are things you can do to minimize it and improve your chances for success.
Here are five things you can do to help your scent control in hot weather.
1. Hunt the wind! This cannot be overstated in the least. With sweat pouring down your body, controlling the scent is difficult. Put the wind in your favor.
If you are hunting with a rifle, set your stand further away than normal if possible. Get a minimum of 80-100 yards from where you expect to see the deer.
Many early-season hunters are focused on agriculture fields. Afternoon hunts are the norm here, setting your stand further away with the wind in your face and sun at your back is a deadly combination.
Bowhunters need to ensure they are in a shady area and to use extra caution. Do not marginalize on the wind during this early season. Bowhunters should focus on transition areas near food sources.
Extreme caution should be given to access to your stand. Be careful not to leave any trace of your scent. Early season preparations of cleaning your access, removing any limbs you may touch will help.
2. Dress appropriately. Light, breathable materials are essential here. Sitka Early Season Whitetail is the best I have found for early season. Your material needs to breathe and help to cool your core.
Other performance apparel is also good for early season. Clothes that wick the perspiration away from the body will help cool your core down and reduce sweating, thereby reducing your scent.
In extreme heat, consider shorts and short sleeves. While this exposes skin to the elements, being comfortable increases the odds of being still. Some of the best early-season bucks were killed with me wearing shorts.
3. Use Scent Control soaps and detergent. While it may not eliminate your odor, the use of these detergents will definitely help to minimize them. Bathe, shampoo, and launder your clothes.
Charlie Morris of Aiken, SC takes scent-free, biosafe soap and often bathes in nearby creeks right before climbing into the stand. “Every little bit helps,” Morris says. “I can definitely tell a difference when I am able to bathe right before climbing into the stand.” He says.
Wildlife Research disposable wipes are a great tool for wiping sweat. I keep a pack in my backpack and when I begin to sweat, I take one of the wipes and use it to wipe my face and neck to dry the sweat, and place scent-free molecules on my skin.
4. Use cover scents. Years ago, the go-to cover scent was skunk essence. It has faded in popularity due to its extreme pungent odor. (not to mention the fun of harvesting it from skunks) However, during early season, the strong cover of skunk is an excellent choice.
Purchase it from trapping supply stores, one ounce will last for several seasons. A few drops on a tree near your stand is enough to help cover your scent.
Caution here, do not spill it on your clothes. Your spouse will make you throw your clothes away. Skunk essence is perhaps the best cover scent available today.
5. Wear rubber boots or shoes. During the hot summer months, rubber boots are uncomfortable and just too hot. But they are necessary for walking to the stand.
Leaving no scent on your trail is essential or leave a cover scent as mentioned above. It can help to reduce the chance of being detected.
Rubber boots are a must. Make sure the boots are not contaminated with fuel or other odd smells.
For early season, I dedicate a pair just for hunting. The boots help to keep me dry from early morning dew, and also help to eliminate any scent of me walking to the stand.
I like boots that I can roll down once on stand. The heat generated by the boots can be uncomfortable. If possible, I roll the tops down, or even remove them completely and sit in socks.
The rubber boots are a must for all seasons of stand hunting. Hunters need to make sure they leave no trace of scent getting to their stands.
These tips for early season scent control are not 100% successful. Nothing can totally eliminate your scent when it is triple digits and high humidity. But employing these tips can indeed help to minimize your scent and help you become more successful.