Hunting and Outdoors

Women Afield — Fool His Nose and You Fool Him, the Science of Scent Elimination

The words preorbtial, vomeronasal and olfactory might sound like something from a science fiction movie, but they are not. They can also be challenging to say or even spell, but the greater challenge for any hunter is what these tongue twisting words actually mean. Preorbital, vomeronasal and olfactory are names for the highly evolved organs and lobes on a whitetail deer. These are the hypersensitive membranes that help level the playing field in the woman vs. whitetail game.

According to wildlife biologists the whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has up to 297 million olfactory receptors. Most dogs have about 220 million; a human has just 5 million. The truth is the whitetail deer is a master when it comes to using its nose. If the conditions are right, it can detect even the smallest of scent molecules over a half-mile away. Odor molecules are at most only a few nanometers in size. How small is a nanometer? They are ridiculously small as in one-billionth of a meter. A meter is about 39 inches long. So it is easy to understand how deer have the advantage over hunters.

While it is true, the wily whitetail has mastered the art of knowing how to use his nose to detect humans; he also knows how to manipulate these lopes and organs during changing weather or environmental factors to give him the greatest advantage. It is understandable then—if you plan on hunting these animals—you will need to think about how their sense of smell actually works and figure out ways to help eliminate or cover the smells they associate with danger. Smells such as body odor or fragrances from laundry detergents or showering, fumes produced by exhausts or from smoking for example. This is where scent elimination products come in handy.

There is a science behind scent elimination products, a science that involves odor molecules and enzymes. Millions of dollars have been invested to unlock the connection between the two. Today, scent elimination products are everywhere you look. There are dozens of companies who specialize in making products all geared around one thing, fooling the nose of a whitetail.

Scent elimination products come in a variety of different forms such as sprays, lotions, soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, shampoos, creams, lip balm, wipes, laundry products and more. Another saturated market is the scent elimination clothing line. There are dozens of companies who manufacture some sort of scent eliminating garment. From socks and underwear to outerwear and even special bags to store and transport your scent elimination gear—they have thought of everything. Chances are, if you wear it or come into contact with it at some point during you day, there is a scent elimination product designed to help erase or minimize the molecules left behind on the item.


The question is does this scent elimination stuff work? Which brand works best? And do I really need all of this stuff to successfully tag a whitetail? These are the million dollar questions, and the answers vary greatly among hunters. One thing is for certain, when it comes to hunting whitetails if you can fool a whitetails nose you dramatically increase your chances of success in the field. How you do that is up to you.

Do you have a tip for fooling a whitetail’s nose? Tell us in the comment section.


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