Book Your 2017 Dream Hunt today btn

Blog / Article


Don’t Spoil Deer Woods with Human Scent

Young deer usually don’t respond to presence of humans like mature bucks and Alpha does, which react instantly when human scent is detected. Mature deer will also change travel corridors and other behaviors when those areas have human scent.

January 6, 2016

By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As we head into the new year, I’ve already heard through the grapevine of rutting activity. Judging from the number of outstanding bucks I’ve seen on social media sites, there definitely has been some chasing going on in some parts of the state.

As the rut kicks off, there is a tendency to want to head into the woods to look for rubs and scrapes to pinpoint the rutting activity.

I visited with my longtime buddy and hunting partner Larry Norton during the holidays, and he thinks a walkabout in search of rutting evidence is a big mistake this time of year. As a member of the pro staff with Tink’s Deer Lures during his 20-plus years as a hunting guide at Bent Creek Lodge near Jachin, Ala., Norton amassed vast knowledge of all things concerning deer and deer hunting.

Although deer have excellent eyesight, their main defense mechanism is their sense of smell. If you’re spotted by a deer and immediately freeze, it might stand there a second or two to try to figure out what is approaching. But if a deer detects human odor, it does not hesitate. It’s gone in a flash with its white tail flagging as it leaves. And, if it’s an Alpha doe, she’ll stand out of range and blow until every deer within earshot knows she’s smelled a human.

Norton said scent-eliminating technology has improved a great deal in the last few decades, but there is still no way to completely fool a deer’s nose.

Norton’s experience with Alabama deer started when he bowhunted at 13 years old. When he got a little older, he began to try to solve the mystery of why he and his buddy kept getting busted by the deer even when they did everything possible to minimize their scent.

“When we were 18, a buddy of mine and I started keeping records of everything possible when we went into the woods,” Norton said. “That includes wind direction, moon phase, everything. We would wash our clothes in rainwater and hang them in the woods to dry. Back then, we were as scent-free as you could possibly be.

“We would take acorns and mash them up and rub them all over our treestands and boots. No matter what, if a deer walked by where we had walked, they smelled us.”

While he was guiding for more than 20 years at Bent Creek, Norton continued to keep a daily log of deer and hunter activities.

“We had a field down near the (Tombigbee) river that just filled up with deer every afternoon,” he said. “You had to walk across the road to get to it. That road was just smooth as glass. I took some brand new rubber boots and a five-gallon bucket of rainwater. I took the boots out of the box, put them on and stuck them down in the rainwater and washed them off real good. I walked down the road to the field about 100 yards, turned and walked into the woods and then walked back toward the field. I had planned to just sit and see what happened when the deer got to my tracks.

“The yearlings smelled the tracks but went right on into the field. The momma, probably a 5- or 6-year-old doe, got about 3 feet from the track I’d made with those just-washed rubber boots. She turned inside out, blowing and snorting and running off. A little while later, two six-points, probably 2-year-old bucks, came in the road, smelled my tracks, but they went on in the field. About dark, about a 140-class eight-point walked into the road. When he hit my tracks, he turned and followed that scent back to where I went into the woods. As soon as he stepped into the woods, his head came up, and he started scanning the trees until he spotted me. It didn’t take long for him to leave after he spotted me.”

Norton has example after example of why it’s a bad idea to be traipsing around the woods looking for sign this time of year.

“I’ve seen it time and time again,” he said. “We’ve had green fields that had deer coming to it every afternoon, pouring in there. I take hunters and put them in that stand. I go pick them up, and they say ‘Man, there are three good trails coming into that field.’ I said, ‘No, you didn’t get out there and walk around did you?’ They said, ‘Well, I just walked around to see where they were coming in.’ I said, ‘You didn’t walk out of the field did you?’ They said, ‘Just 20 or 30 yards.’ Then I asked them how many deer they saw that afternoon. ‘None, but I heard a bunch of snorting.’

“Bottom line: Keep your human scent out of the woods. When you plant your green fields, stay out of them. Ride your ATV. Deer are not scared of rubber tires. If you’re checking your trail cameras, set them up to where you can ride up to them on your ATV, change cards and get out of there.”

Another example came when he found a heavily traveled deer trail crossing a road. One of those tracks indicated a heavy, mature buck was using the trail.

“I got the wind right and got about 100 yards up the road from the crossing,” Norton said. “I sat down against the tire on my truck. A doe came across, a young buck came across, a young eight-point came across, a six-point came across, and then a big doe came out in the road at 5:15. Another person that was hunting started coming out early. I figured that big buck was going to come out right after that doe. When she got alerted by the truck lights, I decided to shoot her to put meat in the freezer.

“I told a friend where they could put up a pop-up blind and probably kill a big deer. Instead of them getting in that blind and sitting and waiting, they got out in the woods and walked around. And they walked down the road looking at tracks. They came back and said, ‘You were right; that road was eat up with tracks.’ The next day it rained. I went up there for five straight days after it rained and there wasn’t a single deer track in that road because of the human scent my buddy left.

“Deer will find a safe haven with no human activity. If there’s no human scent, they’re not going anywhere. That’s why if I’m going to hang a stand on a green field, I hang it in February. If I kill a deer in a green field, I drive up to it on the ATV, step out and throw the deer on the back and get out of there.”

Norton said he’s tried every product designed to diminish or cover human odor that has come on the market with little success. What he has noticed is when the outdoors TV shows have a successful hunt and bag a big buck, there is one common factor.

“They say, ‘Boy, the wind was perfect today,’” he said. “Those guys killing those big deer are playing the wind. I will say this, a cover scent might fool him just enough for him to make a mistake. But the deer I’m hunting and you’re hunting, a 5-year-old or older, ain’t going to make a mistake.”

Recent Blog Posts

How Hunting Preserves Work

Posted on August 11, 2021

Cool Season Food Plots for Deer

Posted on July 22, 2021

Alabama Hunters Show Off Huge Bucks on Social Media

Posted on July 22, 2021

Don’t Spoil Deer Woods with Human Scent

Posted on July 22, 2021

Ohio Hunting Guide: The Only One You Need

Posted on October 26, 2020

Trophy Whitetail Hunts: The Definitive Guide

Posted on October 20, 2020

Guided Whitetail Hunts: All You Need to Know

Posted on October 20, 2020

How to Hunt Ohio Whitetail Deer?

Posted on October 15, 2020

How to Score a Whitetail Deer in 2020

Posted on October 15, 2020

Ohio Whitetail Outfitters: 10 Tips for Choosing the Best

Posted on October 12, 2020

Best Deer Hunting Caliber: 11 Must-Have Rifles

Posted on October 12, 2020

Ohio Public Hunting Land: How to Choose The Best

Posted on October 12, 2020

12 Best Deer Hunting Times: Prime Periods to Bag a Buck

Posted on October 12, 2020

Deer Hunting Season Ohio: When It Starts, How Long It Lasts

Posted on October 9, 2020

Ohio Deer Hunting: The Ultimate Guide

Posted on October 8, 2020

Five Big Whitetail Bucks That Were Found Dead Mysteriously

Posted on December 2, 2019

Whitetail Trophies, it’s what we do!

Posted on July 31, 2018

You’re Invited! To Hunt with us!

Posted on May 30, 2018

Congratulations Elaine on an Awesome Buck!!

Posted on March 19, 2018

Congratulations Gary on an Awesome Hunt!!

Posted on February 6, 2018

Congratulations Jude on an Awesome Buck!!

Posted on January 26, 2018

Wow, What a Trophy!!

Posted on January 22, 2018

What an awesome hunt with Jaric on Friday!

Posted on January 11, 2018

Let Owen and Rich help you get your Dream buck!!

Posted on January 6, 2018

Richard Harvests a beautiful typical trophy!

Posted on January 4, 2018

Happy New Year

Posted on January 2, 2018

Congratulations Stephan on a great drop tine Buck!

Posted on December 28, 2017

Congratulations Roger on a Beautiful 300″ Whitetail Trophy!

Posted on December 18, 2017

Sisters harvest bucks, awesome story!

Posted on December 15, 2017

High Fence Deer Hunting

Posted on December 14, 2017

Have you thought about telling your spouse what you want for Christmas?!

Posted on December 12, 2017

Now filling a few open dates in December and January.

Posted on December 5, 2017

Idaho brothers and Dad harvest some beautiful Bucks!

Posted on November 22, 2017

Texas strikes again :-)

Posted on November 16, 2017

Paul harvests a beautiful non typical Trophy! Congratulations!

Posted on November 13, 2017

Jim harvests a beautiful typical Trophy! Wow! What a Dandy!

Posted on November 10, 2017

Richard, his father Carl, and their 3 hunting buddies Harvest some Beautiful Bucks!

Posted on November 10, 2017

Tom from New York takes a beautiful typical Buck!

Posted on November 10, 2017

A little more perspective on Ed’s deer from last week… 390-3/4″

Posted on November 10, 2017

Brandon takes a Nice 169″ + on Friday! His wife Melissa, bags a nice doe!

Posted on November 10, 2017

Chris takes a Special Buck on Friday!

Posted on November 9, 2017

Deer Hunting Preserves the Deer Herds

Posted on September 20, 2017

Deer Hunting Ranch or Deer Hunting Preserve: 4 Tips

Posted on September 20, 2017

Whitetail Deer Hunt: An Excuse to Return

Posted on September 20, 2017

The Art of Concealment Whitetail Deer Hunting

Posted on September 20, 2017

How to Measure Whitetail Deer After a Hunt

Posted on September 20, 2017

Beat the Crowds for a Better Whitetail Deer Hunt

Posted on September 20, 2017

How to Stay Calm While Taking Your Shot at a Whitetail Deer

Posted on September 20, 2017

Whitetail Deer Bowhunting Basics

Posted on September 20, 2017

Preparing Your Bow for a Whitetail Deer Hunting Season

Posted on September 20, 2017

As U Know The Rut Is In Full Swing

Would You Like A Chance At A 30 Percent Discount To Fill One Of Our Hunts Short Notice?

Then Enter Your Email And Phone Number As Things Change Daily!