Getting Hunting Clothes Human Scent Free

If you hunt, you know how important controlling human scent on clothes is.

How many times when you were in the woods can you remember that the first and last part of a deer you saw was the white of their tail getting smaller then disappearing. Deer have thousands of times as many scent sensing cells and nerve endings in their noses than humans. This is why they have long nasal passages, eons ago the animals with the most scent cells survived longer to reproduce. The short nosed animals died out unless they had some other advanced ability to protect themselves such as hands and feet to climb trees or use tools and weapons.

To control the human scent situation there are three phases to consider - Getting odor free before the hunt, staying odor free or masking odor during the hunt and using attracting odors during the hunt. All three take a little forethought and a lot of effort.


Getting Scent Free

Clothes Fabrics

Activated Carbon:  First a word about the new activated carbon clothing. They work great until you use them a couple of times under sweatty conditions, after that they become the same as any other cloth. Activated carbon absorbs odorous molecules on its surface, it does have a lot of surface area due to many little cracks in the material but the amount of activated carbon in the cloth is very limited and the surface area fills up very quickly. Once the absorbing surfaces are full the odor molecules are pretty much there forever and the materials ability to absorb more human scent is quickly eliminated.

Washing the activated carbon does not rejuvenate it, in fact if there are other molecules in the wash water that charcoal will absorb such as detergent, chlorine or from molecules released from other clothes in the wash water. Any surface not saturated during the first wearing gets filled during cleaning. Simply hanging them in a closet will fill the pores with molecules of household chemicals, cooking and cigarette smoke and etc. Sending it to the dry cleaners would even be worse as activated charcoal loves the hydrocarbon fluid, may as well hang them in the garage to absorb paint and gasoline vapors.

The only way to reactivate carbon is to heat it to over 1400 degrees F. in a oxygen free atmosphere or place it in a high vacuum chamber for several hours. I am not talking vacuum cleaner vacuum but semi-conductor manufacturing vacuum. I.e., there is no practical way to reactivate the absorbent after it has saturated. Save your money for more fun stuff.

Membrane Barrier: The new  membrane based human scent free clothes prevent good circulation and are therefore too hot for some of us, may as well wrap up with kitchen wrap.

You can buy water proof clothing which has a membrane like quality, once again it is hot and additionally very noisy. Leave these to the duck hunters.

Treated Fiber: A hi-tech fiber fabric containing an antibiotic in the fiber which lasts the lifetime of the garment yet allows odor free moisture to wick out and evaporate might be the best technology. It is manufactured by Backwater Gear Apparel and trade marked as VISAENDURANCETM in the form of light weight undergarments.

On the positive side using and washing VISAENDURANCETM does not negate their ability to reduce odor to their fullest ability even though that ability is limited from the beginning depending on usage loading.

If you live in a cooler climate they may be more effective but I would not depend on scent free clothing exclusively.

In the author’s mind this leaves attractant and cover scents as still the best approach and least expensive.


Clothes Cleaning:

Because clothes cover 80 - 90% of the hunters body they do have to be carefully cleaned, so what do you do? There are a couple of ways; they can be cleaned in baking soda one cup to the load with a scoop of oxygen bleach. My favorite is Amway's low suds LOC and a non perfumed pet odor enzyme such as PetZyme or Natures Miracle. There are others available at your pet store. If you can locate an Amway dealer LOC comes in a suds or low suds liquid, it is an environmentally safe coconut derivative.

After cleaning dry the clothes in a dryer by themselves, never use a softener. In fact if the dryer has been contaminated with a clothes softener sheet or clothes with liquid softener applied in the washer its drum should be washed with alcohol prior to washing hunting clothes.

After cleaning and drying put everything in a large heavy duty plastic bag. If you can't find large polyethylene bags use a sheet of clean construction plastic, fold a couple of times and seal with box packaging tape. This should include your shirts, pants, underwear, socks, gloves, wool mask. If you are going on a several day trip make up packages of complete sets for each day. If you do not have several camo suits or other exterior wear clothes at least carry a change of under clothes and take a spray bottle of pet enzyme solution along. At the end of the hunting day take off the exterior set and spray with the pet enzyme solution and let dry overnight.

If you have cedars or pines in the area that you hunt put a paper bag of cedar chips, pine needles and or pine or cedar bark. If you only have hard woods do the same with tree leaves, bark, crushed acorns and/or dirt from the area. If you have both kinds of trees, mix and match. Be sure and use paper so the natural odor molecules can escape to the clothes.

Prepare an extra set of street clothes, cleaned the same way as your hunting clothes. Keep in a separate bag and also store them in your scent free closet. Wear them to your hunting site. This will keep your actual hunting clothes chemical odor free until getting to the hunting site.

If you would rather just get your scent free products from a single source
Scent Killer Products from Wildlife Research Center is a good one stop source.

Boots or Shoes

Wash tennis shoes and store in the same way as the clothing above, even the same bag.

Many hunters wear rubber boots only to block the human scent. If you wear rubber boots wash them in the same solution as above and put them in a separate bag after drying. Plastic and rubber boots will keep sweat odors in during the hunt.

If you hunt in leather boots prep them for storage by spraying them with the pet enzyme solution and let them dry before storage.


Hunting Equipment

Once your clothes are clean you do not want to contaminate them by storing them in a human environment. Prepare a hunting clothes and equipment storage closet or area to assure they stay foreign scent free.


Hunting equipment and your vehicle which carries everything to the site  is naturally full of human scents and needs to be made scent-free and kept in scent free storage. Special attention to lubricants and cleaners is needed to protect your equipment and make it scent free.


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