Hunting and Outdoors

Women Afield — Oh, the Stank!

Bring up the subject of scents, as in cover scents or lure/attractant scents among veteran hunters and you will probably find an equal number of those who choose to use and those who never mess with them. If you are lucky, you might also hear an occasional confession of when someone totally messed up using these types of scents. Sometimes the oversight is down right funny (read on), and, at other times, the mistakes are very painful such as the time I witnessed a crusty old hunter mistake the cover scent he was using, which was fox urine, for his bottle of nasal spray. His split-second blunder lingered, literally, in our minds and in his nasal passages for weeks. Everyone who was present learned a valuable lesson from his error—that is to never put anything in your vest pocket in a nasal spray bottle you do not want up your nose.

When hunters refer to scents they typically group them into two categories: cover scents and lure/attractant scents. Using certain types of scents can be confusing. “What should I use?” “How do I use this stuff?” “And is it even necessary?” are just a few questions folks new to hunting often ask.

In this post, we’ll talk about cover scents. As the name suggests, the goal of a cover scent is to do just that, cover or mask another odor such as odors associated with humans. Cover scents run the gamut from the very pungent to the slightly subtle. The strong odors found in urine from animals such as a fox, coyote or skunk work well to cover odors left by humans. So do the subtle earthy type of cover scents found in extracts from pine trees, acorns, cedar trees or even apples, persimmons and other natural scents.

Most hunters who have used the stout odor types of cover scent found in animal urine will tell you to prepare yourself for a few flubs along the way. Remember the nasal spray? When using the urine type of cover scent, use a very light hand when applying them, as a little goes a long way. These types of cover scents are notoriously messy: the harder you try not to get this stinky vial of pee all over the place, the higher the chances are you will. Most urine cover scents have some sort of oily-type compound in them that helps the substance adhere better and thus last longer in inclement weather.

Using latex gloves to apply the stinky stuff is very helpful as is storing the container in a zippered plastic bag. Do not put apply these types of cover scents on anything you want to take into your home as the odor lingers for a long time and can cause some embarrassing situations. Every time I run into my daughter’s teacher, I am reminded of this.

It was hunting season and my daughter’s teacher summoned me to come get my sick child. Getting to my sick baby was the only thought I had as I raced to her school, totally losing sight of the fact just a few hours earlier I had dabbed some fox urine to the sole of my boot. Two carpeted hallways and one kindergarten play rug later, I realized my mistake and so did everyone else in the building. Try explaining fox pee to a janitor. Some lessons you learn the hard way. Nowadays, I use a small string pulling a swatch of cloth soaked with the cover scent tied around the ankle of my boot. It is what works best for me and I can slip it off in a matter of seconds.

Another thing to remember about cover scents, especially the subtle earthy scents, are you need be aware of the type of naturally occurring scents found in the area you are hunting. For example, it may not be effective using an apple or acorn cover scent typically found in the Midwest on an elk hunt in Colorado. In fact, it could be less than effective and actually screw up your hunt. Be sure to use scents that are geographically correct for the area you are hunting.

Be sure to return next week to learn about arousing aromas.

Do you have any scent cover or masking tips? Share them with us in the comment section.


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1 Comment;

  1. Yeah, I’m kinda old and crusty nowadays myself Lisa, but I remember back in the ’80s, about the only thing I saw in the stores was an apple scent, fox and coon urine, and good old “Tink’s 69″ doe in heat urine. I had tried some of it a few times, but who really knows whether it actually helped, or hurt? I usually got meat almost every weekend I went, and there was never an opening morning, when I didn’t have a buck hanging on the pole in camp by 9 or 10am. But who knows whether the times I did use scents would have meant a bigger rack, or nothing at all? The old man who owned my place was like a father figure to me, in fact he had known and worked next to my dad in a bomber plant for years, well before I was old enough to hunt, and my dad had died when I was only 14, so he always would drive down early on opening day, and there I’d already have a buck back up at the house, hanging. It was always a proud moment, for each of us. Then, he’d spend the weekend there with me, telling me stories about my dad. It was magical, but I digress.
    One time, we talked about scents, and we talked about apples. I decided to try it, even though there are not likely any apple trees in the Texas hill country. I bought several bags of small Winesap apples, and hung some in burlap bags from trees. I’d take a few to my stand too on occasion, slice them in quarters, and throw them in different directions. That never seemed to help, and like I said earlier, who knows? I could usually see deer each time I’d go out, and there’d usually be a legal buck in the mix, even if it was only a spike, or a fork horn. (As much as I liked to dream, I was a meat hunter)
    One afternoon, after I’d crawled up into my Live Oak tree stand and settled in, it got extremely quiet and still. I kept hearing something moving slowly, deliberately, in the grass below. My seat was 26 feet up in that tree, and the sound I heard was a 6 foot Rattler, stretched out longer than that in a straight line, traveling under my tree. My place was littered with Limestone rock, so I aimed my 30.06 staight down, and waited ’til his head was crossing over a platter size rock. I held the 3X crosshair about 2” to one side of his neck, and sent a 150gr Remington Corelocked bullet his way, thinking I’d get him with the rock. It worked perfectly. He rolled up in a ball, and tose 11 rattles rang solidly, un-interuppted like church bells, for 35 minutes, gradually slowing, like a spring wound toy. Well, I never saw a deer. I never saw a squirrl, or even heard a bird, the rest or the evening. I learned a lesson about warning signals that afternoon. Deer get used to hearing shots fired, but that loud, prolonged rattling sent out a warning to every animal, well outside my shooting range that day. I may not have a lot to bring to the table about scents, but I can say that if you are hunting and see a rattler, let it pass. I have the snake mounted, by the way.

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