Craig Raleigh
can deer smell our breath

Since we all know that eventually, inevitably whitetail deer smell everything that is floating on the air within their range, then we should be on a continual search to omit those items that will spook them and send them into the next county. So, let’s look at a few of the things that we may have forgotten about or just don’t take seriously enough just before we enter the deer woods. We all know how important scent control is to the hunt, but we sometimes get lazy and don’t count on some of things that we take for granted in our everyday lives.

Add to that some of the things that are necessary to the hunt that can and will get us busted by whitetail deer and we may not even know it. It seems like we’re all beholden to the great innovations and top of the line gear that our fathers and grandfathers just didn’t have available to them, the only trouble is that some of these alert deer.

Your Truck

One thing I just cannot discount is the fact that the seat of my truck is ripe with everything from construction filth to the unavoidable sweat from my body, and that’s the big one. Whatever it is that you drive to and from your favorite deer hunting spot, it’s filled with human odors you simply must control. I used to routinely spray my truck seat with scent killer spray and keep a scent-free blanket on it until the season was over. This is especially important as the season progresses and the deer have been pressured.


There’s a lot to be said about this one, partly because it seems like it should be obvious, but hold on. Is it simply that our breath is a body odor, or is it more due to what we’ve eaten? As some will say, breath odor is not so much related to the same factors as body odor, but is it possible that deer have made that association?

It’s likely that anything which could alert a deer to the presence of a human will spook it so it is always an imperative to refrain from introducing a foreign scent in the woods while you are hunting. This is why I always have apples in my bag.


what deer can smell

Getty: AegeanBlue

This is the obvious precursor to deer smelling our breath since what goes in our mouths has a way of coming right back out as an odor. While the food we eat has a certain smell that is unfamiliar to deer, it is unlikely to spook them unless it contains something that they associate with fear.

Stick with playing the wind direction while you hunt and only concern yourself with your own personal body odor. If it is relevant to you then try more natural foods such as fruits and nuts.

Gun Oil

Here is the first of several products that we need to use to keep our expensive investments from wearing out before their time. This is part of a long line of products that we take into the woods with us which probably don’t scare anything since it is so unfamiliar to deer which are tuned into our scent and not gun oil.

You may be happy to know that many manufacturers make odorless gun oil, wipes, and other products for those that want to keep everything scent free including their firearm or bow. The fact is that if they associate it with the danger of humans enough, they will begin to avoid it.

Gun Powder

what deer can smell

Getty: EnglerJ

Let’s face it, hunters were using blackpowder rifles long before we got our hands on pre-loaded cartridges and they sure shot a lot of wild game. Truth be told, by the time a deer smells your gun powder it should be too late to worry about it, but for the muzzleloading crowd it’s a simple matter of keeping your powder horn well maintained.

Your Pet

what deer can smell

Getty: Kerkez

Not that your pet is going on a deer hunting adventure with you, (although some areas allow for dogs during deer season) but sometimes they do a ride along on your hunting clothes. It can happen in the home or it can happen in your vehicle, but having a pet’s scent can have a negative effect on deer.

Since both canines (coyotes and wolves) and felines (bobcats, lynx, and cougars) are deer predators, it stands to reason that the smell of your pet dog or cat could trigger a danger alert in deer. The strange thing is that some folks use coyote urine to keep deer away and others use it as a cover scent.

Please check out my book “The Hunter’s Way” from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube.


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