Deer's amazing sense of smell

Part 1

Why is scent control so important for deer hunting?

Deer have a sense of smell that humans can barely even begin to imagine!
 

deer nose, sense of smell

 

White tail deer have an amazing sense of smell, which is why it is critically important for hunters to do everything they can to minimize their scent. Before we give you tips on making your hunting clothes and yourself scent-free, we wanted to give you some information on a deer's sense of smell.

Deer have up to 297 million olfactory (scent) receptors in their nose. In comparison, dogs have 220 million and humans have just 5 million olfactory receptors. Not only do deer have a huge number of olfactory receptors in their nose, they also have a secondary scent gland called the vomeronasal organ that is located in their mouth.

Deer have 2 large scent processing areas in their brains. These processing areas are 9 times larger than a human's scent processing area. So a sniff test of yourself or your clothing is nothing compared to what a deer can do.

So just how well can a deer smell?
Unfortunately not a lot of research on deer is available. However there has been quite a bit of research on what dogs are capable of smelling, so with this knowledge and the estimation that a deer's sense of smell is 30% greater, we can make some generalizations. Below is a list of abilities that dogs have, and you can safely assume that a deer is the same if not greater.

Dogs can identify traces of chemicals that are only one or two parts in a trillion. That is the equivalent of smelling one needle in a haystack of 1 trillion stalks.

Dogs can smell fear, anxiety and excitement. All these emotions cause you to emit pheromones from your glands. So if the wind is wrong, a deer will smell your excitement at seeing them enter your sights.

At crime scenes, dogs have been able to pick up a human scent from finger prints that are 7 days old. So it is important not only to be scent-free on your hunting day, but that your tree stand has been set up more than a week in advance of hunting season so that human scents on it have as much time as possible to dissipate. Setting up prior to a rain will help to cleanse your smell from the area.

Lastly, think about this: dogs are now being used to alert doctors of lung cancer simply sniffing the patients breath, and they are accurate 90% of the time. With this type of sensitivity, is it any wonder that a deer can detect you in the field when you have recently used cologne, shampoo, or laundry detergent?

 

So just how well can a deer smell?
Unfortunately not a lot of research on deer is available. However there has been quite a bit of research on what dogs are capable of smelling, so with this knowledge and the estimation that a deer's sense of smell is 30% greater, we can make some generalizations. Below is a list of abilities that dogs have, and you can safely assume that a deer is the same if not greater.

Dogs can identify traces of chemicals that are only one or two parts in a trillion. That is the equivalent of smelling one needle in a haystack of 1 trillion stalks.

Dogs can smell fear, anxiety and excitement. All these emotions cause you to emit pheromones from your glands. So if the wind is wrong, a deer will smell your excitement at seeing them enter your sights.

At crime scenes, dogs have been able to pick up a human scent from finger prints that are 7 days old. So it is important not only to be scent-free on your hunting day, but that your tree stand has been set up more than a week in advance of hunting season so that human scents on it have as much time as possible to dissipate. Setting up prior to a rain will help to cleanse your smell from the area.

Lastly, think about this: dogs are now being used to alert doctors of lung cancer simply sniffing the patients breath, and they are accurate 90% of the time. With this type of sensitivity, is it any wonder that a deer can detect you in the field when you have recently used cologne, shampoo, or laundry detergent?


Now that you have this new respect for the ability of a deer to smell you, please click below to read Part 2:

How to wash your body and your hunting clothes to eliminate your scent

 



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  • Our laundry hand washing kit is a great way to keep the mess from work clothes or diapers out of your washing machine. Or use it for all your laundry at cabins and campgrounds.

Page last modified on 2017-10-29

 

 

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