This article originally appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Elk Hunter Magazine. Don't miss another article by Randy Ulmer, click HERE to subscribe!
QUESTION: I’m a bowhunter and it seems like I get busted more often from elk smelling me than for any other reason. What do you actually do on your hunts to minimize your scent? Please give me some PRACTICAL scent control advice.
ANSWER: The problem with early season elk hunting is that it is usually warm, and if you’re like me, you’re typically moving (and sweating) a great deal. I have two different scent control regimens I use, depending on whether I’m hunting from a vehicle camp or hunting from a backpack camp. Here are several important points to consider:
It’s much more difficult to limit your scent production when you’re backpack hunting. When I’m on the trail, I carry body soap, detergent for my clothes, deodorant, toothbrush, floss, and baking soda. I don’t sleep in my clothes and I bathe and wash my clothes in the middle of the day - if there’s a water source. Otherwise, I just try to stay downwind of the elk.
Even if you follow all of these preventative measures, the elk can still smell you. It’s my belief that scent control merely decreases the volume of scent you put out and allows you to get away with a little more. When I’m clean and freshly showered, I can often get 100 yards upwind from an elk without being detected. However, if I’m stinky, the elk can easily detect me at 400 yards. As a bowhunter, you often have to slip in as close as possible to a herd of elk and wait for something to happen, so the less odor you produce, the longer you’ll go undetected.
The bottom line? Keep the wind right.