Up Close and Personal (Part 2)

When I first started hunting deer, around the age of 12, I could never understand how a deer could detect me.  It honestly wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I started to pay attention to the wind and practice my scent control.  It almost seems like the deer have gotten smarter over time and progressed with our technologies.  Or, that could just be my excuse for still getting busted from time to time.

I clearly recall hunting with my Dad in the hard wood river valleys of southwestern Minnesota growing up.  We would keep our camouflage in large plastic containers with leaves, sticks, and dirt.  The smell of the container was like being punched in the face with a handful of dirt from the hardwood timbers that grew throughout the river valleys and agricultural fields.  Sweet, earthy goodness.  My dad speaks about his close encounters ground hunting with a bow and arrow while employing this scent control process.  I think he was always leaving out the one secret in his arsenal that I eventually figured out as well – playing the wind.

Playing the wind can often seem like rolling dice on a high stakes table in Las Vegas.  Depending on the situation, there can be a lot at stake (target animals, expensive tags, limited hunting time, or a short season).  To me, it is the second most important thing next to being in the right location.  Here, in the hills of Virginia, the wind is constantly playing tricks on me as it rolls over the mountain tops, cutting through the saddles and fingers that create these stomping grounds.  There have been days where my chalk and talcum powder has done loops and I have had milkweed seeds go around my tree in a circle.  For the most part though, there is general direction that will keep my confidence high.

There seems to be two extreme groups of believers on scent control and wind tactics.  I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle.  I like to believe a sensible and affordable dabble into both is the most effective for my hunting style.  My routine to minimize scent control and have an effective wind tactic hasn’t been 100% successful.  If you’re looking for the answer to being 100% effective, we’re in the same line!  Until the day comes, here is what I do, and the steps I take to get them in close and keep them calm…

 

Scent Control

  • I will run an Ozone plug-in inside of my vehicle overnight or at-least for an hour before driving.  I will usually leave my bow in there along with my hunting bag.
  • Keep dedicated hunting boots that only touch ground in the woods.  They are not allowed to be worn elsewhere.  I will wear Croc’s to drive and make any stops.
  • Apply Ever Calm stick to the toe and heel on my boot to cover the scent as much as possible on my entrance and egress routes.
  • All of my clothes for hunting get stored in a plastic tote that is loaded with leaves, pine needles, and Hunter Specialties Fresh Earth Wafers.
  • I only wear my hunting clothes in the woods – getting dressed when I get there.
  • I will spray down the clothes with a fine mist enzyme product.  I like Dead Down Wind as it is affordable and can be found most places.
  • I will often use doe urine for a lure and a cover scent, placed downwind of me.  Every year I have harvested a buck doing this and every single one of them was shot downwind within 20 yards.

 

Like most things in life, they key to success comes with consistency.  In the past, I have taped a list to the cover of my plastic tote to remind me of my scent control routine.  One of my practices currently is to carry at least 3 wind checkers on me.  I will normally leave one in my pocket at all times, and the others in my Hidden Woodsman bag.  These three wind indicators (windicators) will typically be chalk or talcum style powder in a small bottle, a lighter, and milkweed seeds.  Having a variety of them also helps when situations change or you simply drop one somewhere during your hunt.

 

The Wind Game

  • Check, check, check again, and then check once more.  I probably look like a kid amazed by bubbles when I’m using windicator, but I like to be sure.
  • Always move with the wind when possible and recheck when terrain changes (tree lines, elevation, valleys, saddles, etc.).
  • Setting up on a crosswind has never been a deal breaker for me.  I will, when possible, keep the wind directly in my face.  Both have worked and aided in harvesting animals.
  • Don’t be afraid to move if the wind changes.
  • When my chalk falls straight down, I will use a lighter to pick up on the smallest amount of wind direction.
  • I harvest milkweed when I see it going to and from a stand.  It keeps well in a Copenhagen tin or mint tin.
  • I note the raise and fall of milkweed seeds to get a feel for where my scent will fall or raise to.
  • Check, check, check again, and then check once more!

 

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Here are some budgetable buys to aid in scent control, scent covering, and wind detection.

 

Though these are just bullet points and I plan on diving into these specifics at a later date.  This is quite literally just scratching the surface.  I could probably write a book into eternity about these topics, but I do like to keep these posts short.  If you would like to talk with me about any of these tactics or routines, please go to the contact page on the website, fill out the information, and I would be more than happy to chat with you and share any knowledge I have!

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