Scent Control – Does It Really Work?

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      This article is in no way intended to offend anyone or to tell them what they are doing is wrong. This is meant to give you more / different information to think about.
          There is a lot of discussion about leaving scent at your sets. Some think it is possible to not leave any scent, and some think it is impossible. Let me tell you, it is impossible.
         The human body has up to 40,000  tiny pieces of skin that leave the body every minute. Those pieces are called “rafts”. They are made up of skin cells, hygiene products, bacteria, fungus, parasites, sweat, hormones, and enzymes. They are unique to each individual. Even the rafts from identical twins are different.
          I am a police officer in Indiana. I was a K-9 officer for over 15 years. During that time I worked 3 different dogs on the street and I was also the trainer for the department. I handled 100’s of dogs getting them ready to work the street. The dogs nose is capable of smelling numerous odors at once. The human nose can smell approx 3 odors during 1 sniff. The dog can smell several. Look at it this way, you go to an Italian restaurant. You walk in and you will probably smell garlic, onions, and maybe another odor. Dogs will smell those along with several other odors from the kitchen, the people in the store, shampoo on the carpets, etc.
          Dogs track the “bad guys” due to them leaving scent where they ran. That is how we track them. They also smell disturbed vegetation where the bad guy stepped.
          There are 2 things that kill scent. Time and sunlight. Now you say there are products out there that hunters spray on their clothes that kill odor before they hunt. Sure, but they are still “rafting” while they are in the woods hunting.  I’m not saying you are stinking like a filthy pig in the woods. For example “Pig Pen” in the cartoon Charlie Brown where he leaves a dust cloud behind him. You are leaving scent behind you. It can’t be avoided.
          I do believe it is best if you try to keep your scent to a minimum. Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or take a restroom break near your sets. Don’t drive your vehicle, ATV, etc. right up to your set. Park a few feet away or check them with binoculars to try to keep human scent down to a minimum.
          There is a lot of discussion on gloves as well. I wear gloves but to mainly keep my hands clean, not to keep from leaving scent at my sets. A lot of trappers take their gloves off to bait or lure. Why? That is ridiculous. If you take your gloves off, then grab a bait, lure, or urine bottle then you are going to get some odor on your bare hands. Then you put the gloves back on and the odor seeps through the gloves and onto your equipment. Next time you handle a bait or lure bottle immediately smell your bare hands. You will probably smell it. I guarantee you that a K-9 can. I wear gloves but don’t take them off to bait my sets. When the gloves get dirty from the dirt, mud, bait, etc. I change them. I wear the brown cotton jersey gloves and sometimes go through several pairs during the day.
           I do have 2 sets of equipment that are exactly the same. One is for “new” sets and the other is for “remake” sets. I do that in case a fox or coyote is a little shy of the animal scent in the catch circle. The animal odor from the catch circle will put odor on my equipment and then I will use it at a “new” set and contaminate the new set.  (I know that I am leaving human scent at both types of sets.)
          K-9’s (fox, coyote) can smell your human scent at the sets. They can also tell how recently you have been there. They smell you but know that it was several hours ago and they are not near as wary as if you was there an hour ago. Now to clarify, k-9’s can’t tell time in “hours” but they do know how “fresh” a scent is.
          K-9’s smell humans all the time. They know what we smell like. Fox and coyotes are in city limits or very near. They smell us. They smell us “in the country” as well. They smell the farm equipment, gas, oil, hydraulic fluid, exhaust, and other odors that farmers are putting in the fields. You are fooling yourself if you think they don’t smell you. When you leave human sent out in the field or fence rows, etc. they are not on “high alert” as they would be if you leave scent at or near their den sight where they raise their young.
           Keep doing what you are doing if it works for you. Just don’t get caught up in all the hype that you have to be “odor free” at your sets because you can’t do it.
           Try to keep human odor to a minimum and use common sense.. Good luck to you on your trap line.  Feel free to contact me anytime. I don’t know it all but I will try to help you or steer you in the direction where someone else can.
      Thank you!
      Deric Beroshok
      921 South Locke  Kokomo IN 46901
      765-860-7499 – phone
      Trappers Education Coordinator for the Indiana State Trappers Association


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