I got to finally go with my dad and hunt whitetail with a rifle at the age of eleven. I had spent my whole life planning on this day. I remember being all amped up for weeks. Opening morning came and we got all the gear ready to go. We pulled up at our spot and got out. I remember the cold air hitting me in the face and the frost all over the ground. We walked down the trail to my dad’s tree. I was pumped when he said “do you know where you are going”? I said “sure do!” I remembered a few weeks earlier we were fishing and I eased back into the woods to look around for my spot I was going to sit and I saw a few scrapes in a row. So, I left my dad at his spot and off I went in the darkness. I knew I had 30-45 min before daybreak so I took off looking for my spot. Well, I got lost for 30 min or so walking around in circles looking for the scrape line and a small western red cedar that had a rub on it. There was just enough daylight that I could see through the woods and there it was. I could see the shiny part of the trunk where the deer had rubbed off the bark. I went to the tree and looked at the scrape line and they were still being used. I figured I had a rifle so I could get back 50 yards or so. I started scanning the woods looking for the tree I wanted to stand by but would still be in cover so the deer wouldn’t see my movement.
All of a sudden I heard a loud sneeze. I thought to myself “what the heck was that”? I turned my head slowly around and there, about 30 yards away down wind, was a small 2x1 whitetail buck standing there looking at me. I pulled my 30-30 Winchester up and tried to get the 4 power fixed scope on the deer. All I could see was brown. I settled the crosshair on him and squeezed the trigger. “BOOM” down he went. I had just shot my first deer ever. Not only that, but I had scouted that area a few weeks before and knew where I wanted to be. My dad came right over and we talked and had a moment I will never forget. He even let me field dress that buck right there so we could drag it back to the truck. I was grinning like a possum eating grapes. I am still smiling thinking about that day.
I was never much on scent control growing up. I would take a shower and clean my clothes before heading out but never really even give it any thought. I had some scent spray or back in the day I would squirt some cover scent on my boots and head into the woods; keep the wind in my face and do pretty good. As I got older I hunted with a good friend of mine. He would always wash his clothes with odorless soap. He was pretty good at spraying down before he went into the woods. He always seemed to be on the bigger deer. I thought that he was just putting me in the crappy spots!
So fast forward a few years and I got married to my high school sweetheart and she loved hunting as much as anyone I have ever met, including myself. I remember her being 7 months pregnant during rifle season going with myself and her father. It was pretty cold that year but she went anyway.
We hardly ever sit together. She has always done her own thing. I used to think she thought we had better odds of killing if we were apart. But then, like the light bulb on the cartoons, it hit me. She thought I stunk in the woods! This woman was at a whole other level of scent control than I have ever seen. She spends more time getting scent-free than most people spend scouting for deer. She will spend an hour getting ready to go hunting when I would pull in at the house, spray my clothes down, throw on my camo, spray it down, and head out the door. I would see half the deer she would and dang sure not kill as many.
I started watching what she was doing and started getting a little more serious with my scent control. I have always made sure the wind is right and watched what trails I went to my tree stand on, and things of that nature. I had just overlooked one huge detail…. scent control. She would wash her hair with only odorless soap all during hunting season, whether hunting or not. She would use Scent-A-Way soap every time she showered. She washed the bed sheets and towels and I am pretty sure only her clothes right down to her underclothes in Scent-A-Way laundry detergent. She sprayed everything she owns down with the Scent-A-Way spray. I started noticing that she was getting encounters with some nice bucks and even killing a bruiser in 2012 scoring 184” non-typical. She has killed plenty of mature bucks in her years of hunting, I should add. So, don’t tell her, but she taught me a couple things over the past 20 years.
You can have the best hunting spot in the world, but if you smell like the world you might just “Stink at hunting”.