If they hear you, they want to see you and smell you, if they see you they want to hear you and smell you, if they smell you………………game over. That was my father’s advice to me as a young whitetail hunter. Years ago that was a tough rule to live by so avoiding detection was all about wind direction. With today’s technology hunting scentless may be possible.
This proved true on November 8, 2017; clear skies, 17 degrees, a great night for the whitetail woods. I was in my stand with a northwest wind, a clover field out front to the north, standing corn to the west, a large field of natural grasses to the east butting up to the woods behind me. The wind was beginning to swing, northwest to west. This stand is best with a north wind but I pay a lot of attention to my scent control regimen so I stay put. I heard the infamous rustle of leaves off my right shoulder and there, walking along the edge of the woods was the “Wide Eight”. I had seen this buck two other times with the last encounter on September 15. As he worked his way along the edge of the woods, with a west wind I knew he would walk into my scent at some point. I turned and was in position hoping he would round the corner into the open clover field. As suspected directly west of me he stopped and that ugly black snout went in to the air. He put his head back down, stood looking into the clover field and checked the wind again. The wind, of course was one of those five-mile-an-hour breezes that was carrying any scent I might have on a direct line to the buck. You know how sometimes that deer is in just the wrong place, any closer and the scent would go over? Yep, he was in as perfect a location as possible to smell me; but did he? He just turned and went back along the woods a few steps and stopped again. No strong reaction. Did he not want to step out into the open clover field or was there a faint scent of me? Whichever it was he did not spook!
As he stood there I drew my bow, knowing if he stepped into the woods I had a twenty yard shot and if he went along the edge of the woods it would be thirty. He chose the edge of the woods and I stopped him with a quiet whistle. My arrow flew true and I watched him bound off with my arrow in his side! I caught glimpses of him running across the grassy field through the branches of my tree. He stopped about a hundred yards out and then nothing. I used a lighted nock, a fantastic invention, and after scanning the grassy field with my binoculars I could see its blue glow near the top of the grass, close to where I last saw him. I followed the light to my prize a mature, four-year-old, eight-point buck with a 19-inch spread I bagged in spite of the wind that should have given me away!
My scent control regime has been intense for several years, but I was able to fine-tune it with what I learned during John Eberhart’s Whitetail Boot Camp. The extra details of scent control such as always wearing gloves while walking to my stand, never touching my back pack with bare hands, and only using activated carbon-based clothing made the decisive difference in my hunt. Did the “Wide Eight” smell me? Maybe, but not enough to spook and this advantage gave me the shot that only incredible scent control can give.