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How do you mask your scent while you hunt?

Hunting Cover Scents

During rutting season, bucks roar and bark in an attempt to attract does' attention. Hunters may use scent to attract deer during rutting season.
During rutting season, bucks roar and bark in an attempt to attract does' attention. Hunters may use scent to attract deer during rutting season.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Hunting­ companies sell all kinds of natural and artificial masking scent, cover spray and attractant for use during a hunt. You can choose from natural cover sprays like pine, acorn, apple and earth or even scents designed to smell like raccoon, fox or skunk urine.

To effectively mask your scent during the hunt, you need to know a few things about the environment in which you're hunting. Before the invention of synthetic mask scents and cover sprays, hunters used to simply rub their hunting clothing with local flora -- pine needles, mashed acorns or even dirt. The logic is easy to follow: If you're trying to mask your scent in a forest, try to smell like a native species instead of a foreign invader [source: Norman].


That same logic applies when using artificial masking and cover scents. There's no point in spraying yourself with pine-scented cover spray if you're hunting in a deciduous forest. And all the raccoon urine in the world won't trick a buck who has never met a raccoon before.

A good place to start with odor-masking scents is a scent-killing spray that you spray on your clothes and boots. From there you can decide if you want to use an additional cover scent that matches your hunting environment, like cedar, sage or red fox urine.

Masking scents don't need to be applied directly to clothing. There are many air freshener-style products that come in solid applicators that can be hung from tree branches, pinned to your clothing or placed around tree stands. You also can buy pieces of thick felt that can be dipped into a bottle of masking scent and hung from tree branches upwind from your prey.

Attractants take scent masking a step further. These are odors that are meant to not only cover human odors, but lure prey by capitalizing on their mating instincts. Every fall, for example, whitetail deer enter what's called the rut, a series of mating rituals. During the rut, not only are bucks searching for does in heat, but they are trying to defend their territories from male competition.

Deer hunting attractants try to lure in bucks by replicating the smells of does in heat or of testosterone-pumped males. The scents can be applied around buck scrapes, areas where active bucks have left their scent on a tree, or near a deer hunting tree stand to lure in prey.

For multi-day hunts, it's important to try to limit the amount of human and foreign odors on your clothing. Portable showers are a great way to stay clean and odor-free on an extended hunt. If showers are too bulky, you can buy disposable odor-killing wipes [source: Ross]. The important thing is to minimize the smells of sweat, food and campfire smoke on your person.

For more information on deer hunting and related topics, hunt through the links below.

Related H­owStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • "Hunting with Deer Scents"
  • Buck Stop. "Scent: How It Carries"
  • "How to Hunt Scent Free"
  • Norman, Ben. Game & Fish. "By a Nose: A Look (and Smell) at Deer Scents"
  • Ross, Frank and Frank Adams. Cabela's. "Cover and Attractant Scent Buyer's Guide"
  • Scent-Lok. "Technology: Absorption/Desorption"
  • Wildlife Research Center. "Video: Scent Killer"