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The Frugal Hunter on Scent Control
Low Cost & Homemade Scent Control Solutions for a Frugal Budget

Dave Cristinzio - PHJ FieldStaff

I know and understand we as hunter’s should support the companies and the industries that support our hunting rights, but sometimes I have a hard time (including my wife) justifying the costs associated with “hunting” supplies. With the economy in shambles and fewer people having excess money to spend on hobbies and such I wanted to share some of my own frugal hunting tips that might benefit others out there (not to mention having three kids which curtail my spending, along with saving up for a new bow). I will say none of these are my inventions, nor am I the first person to think of these, but simply a person compiling different ideas from others that I have tried and had success with. 

Cover Scent – Vanilla

There have been many who claim that the scent of vanilla provides a good cover and curiosity scent for deer. This past year I decided to try it out first hand and see what type of results I got. I made my own formula pretty cheap and simple, with some quality vanilla extract and simple plain old water. I put them in a spray bottle and kept it with me throughout the season. I would spray the bottom of my boots with it before walking to my stand in the morning, quite the same way one would use doe urine on the bottom of a boot pad. I had deer follow directly down the same trails I walked, both bucks and does, including mature bucks in the late season. (Typically I stay off of main trails, but I was experimenting, and wanted to see some results). These deer did not appear to spook at all, and they seemed just fine with the scent of vanilla on the ground and in the air. During the season, I would also pick a tree and spray the base of it with the vanilla, water formula. I did have deer come up to the tree and sniff it; again they were all calm and relaxed as they approached. I will continue to experiment with vanilla as a cover scent, I do think at least for me it has been successful, as well as an inexpensive alternative to other cover scents on the market. I look forward to gathering more results next season, as well as hearing from others and their experiences from using vanilla! 

Cheaper Scent Free Wipes

Use scent free baby wipes for scent free hunting wipes.  I have found nothing that works better than these and you can buy at any grocery store. I have used them for years and have had no problems with them leaving scent or residue on any of my equipment.  Plus, by comparison, you get a heck of a lot more baby wipes per box then “hunting wipes”. I know they don’t say “odor eliminating” when you buy them, but after having 3 kids, they certainly do a great job of cleaning up, and removing nasty odors and bacteria off of kids, so I figured that it would work just as well as those advertised hunting wipes. I have also used them for cleaning my hands up after field dressing, and again, they do a great job of clean up, and removing any foul odors. 

Scent Free Spray and Wipes (Homemade Version)

(Full disclosure, this is not my recipe. I got it off of someone on an archery website).

Ingredients for Scent Killer: 

•  16 oz. (2 cups) Peroxide ( yes, I use the brown bottled stuff) 

•  16 oz. (2 cups) Distilled Water or water from a dehumidifier 

•  ¼ cup baking soda 

1 oz. On non-scented shampoo (I use Hunters Specialties green shampoo) 
(Or adjust amounts to whatever size you make accordingly)


Let sit for several days (a 1 gallon milk jug works good with lid loose). This recipe is also good for removing blood from your hands in the field after dressing your critter! No dried blood, presents a better photo image! 

Heres an idea for some home made scent free baby wipes... 

Mix up a batch of scent killer per instructions above.  Next, take a roll of heavy duty paper towels (Bounty, Scott, etc..not the 49 cent cheapies) 

cut the roll in half with an electric knife or saw so you have 2 short rolls of paper towels (don't try a regular knife... it doesn't work). Pull the cardboard tube from the middle of the half roll then 
find a Rubbermaid or Tupperware container big enough to hold the 1/2 roll of paper towels (and with a good sealed lid). 

Put one of the 1/2 rolls of paper in the container, pour in the scent killer, let the wipes soak up the scent killer, keep covered tight so they don't dry out. Because the inner cardboard tube is out, pull the paper towels out the from the middle like a Kleenex! 

Scent Free Soap

OK, how many bottles of scent free body wash have we all bought over the years? That liquid soap sure does not seem to last very long, and gets to be expensive after a while, especially if you have multiple hunters in the family. After spending a lot of money on this myself, I decided to look for fragrance free bar soaps, and finally I found that Dove makes one - Dove Fragrance Free Senstive Skin Unscented Bar. Again I have used this product for over two seasons now, with great success. I have not had issues of deer scenting me due to my soap. This is an inexpensive alternative to those others manufactured specifically for hunting, and you can wash your hair with it as well, and for some reason I feel cleaner and my skin does not dry out as fast! 

Scent Free Deodorant

There are many traditional brands of scent free/fragrance free deodorants out of the market. I truly feel that all of them out perform those branded specifically to hunters as well.  So, next time you are at the drugstore browse the deodorant section and you will find many brands that have these scent /fragrance free products in both gel and solids. Again I have been using them for the past couple years myself with great results. 

Scent Free Laundry Soap

Ok, I am sure most of you have heard of this one, but I use plain old backing soda!  Again, I can attest that it seems to work just fine, I buy a large box of this at my local super store (Costco) and, for me, and it lasts all season long. I use it to wash all my hunting clothes in. Speaking of washing, always use cold water, and turn your camo inside out to help lengthen the life of your favorite camo garments. I have had the same set for over 5 years now, and they still look new, and work just fine. Another note about using baking soda, put it into the water first, and make sure it is dissolved before you put your clothes in, if you put it over top of your clothes, it may not dissolve, and your clothes will come out with lumps of baking soda on them, not what you want (take it from experience)!!!

In conclusion, 
I hope that these alternatives are useful for some, and again I look forward to any feedback or other ideas that could be added to this article that we could all benefit from.  Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section below. 


Posted 8/22/2011
Great ideas. I think I may try to make a big bucket of those scent free wipes using those blue shop towels and keep them in a Folgers coffee can. Those shop towels are pretty stout.
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Joined: 6/18/2008
Posted 8/23/2011
I really appreciate the info on the soap and the deodorant and will test it out this year.

In regards to the vanilla, I've heard mixed reviews, especially in regards to big bucks. Most people who I know have tried it have had better luck with doe activity than anything.
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Joined: 8/18/2011
Posted 8/23/2011
try using a good tight sealing rubbermaid tote with a carbon furnace filter two face taped to the top for a scent killing tote for gear. throw some fish tank filters in the bottom for some extra scent killing.
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Joined: 7/31/2011
Posted 8/29/2011
Great call on the fish tank filters!!!!!!!!
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Joined: 8/10/2008
Posted 8/30/2011
They all work, I have used them off and on over the years. ONe more thing, the peroxide and water spray bottle is also good for finding blood, during blood trailing.
Joined: 8/29/2011
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Joined: 9/12/2011
Posted 9/23/2011
those are some pretty good tips. i think i will definately try the vanilla and the scent free spray
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Joined: 1/2/2011
Posted 9/27/2011
Pretty cool. Will give them a try.
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Joined: 9/27/2011
Posted 10/4/2011
Did you ever find out if the vanilla worked?
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Joined: 8/5/2011
Posted 11/10/2011
I use All or Tide Free and Clear (rephrase, my wife uses on all our laundry) for my hunting clothing and I have found it to be as effective for controlling scent on my hunting clothes, but I like the cost of baking soda...thanks
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Joined: 11/10/2011
Posted 11/30/2011
I realy like all the odder controll tips. Here is one that I find worrks great for me. I store my close in the Vacume (space bags). At the vacume valve I install an Earth Sent Waffer. This has no effect when pulling air out but when you are ready to get dressed simply lift the vacume seal and all air intering the bag passes threw the waffer and into your cloths.
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Joined: 11/16/2011
Posted 7/22/2012
When it comes to the vanilla, I have heard mixed reviews as well. Pure vanilla extract contains some alcohol in it and it is believed that deer might be able to smell the alcohol and be alarmed by it. Many people suggest using imitation vanilla instead because the alcohol isn't in it. I suggest trying both to see if they both work, or only one of them works.
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Joined: 9/16/2011
Posted 7/23/2012
Ive heard about the vanilla , supposed to be a attractant to deer to.
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Joined: 7/15/2012
Posted 9/14/2012
yes do not use the pure stuff, it has alcohol in it, I use peppermint to keep mice out of the basement, the little critters can't stand the stuff, put it on cotton balls and place around, it will keep them out..not the extract or you will have drunk mice LOL...
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Joined: 9/14/2012
Posted 10/18/2012
In the ingredients for the sent free spray, do you use both the baking soda and the shampo? Or use one of either?
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Joined: 10/15/2012
Posted 10/21/2012
After a little research it appears that both the imatation and real vanilla extracts have alcohol in them. Alcohol is what is used for the extraction process. You can buy alcohol free extract however the scent is not as strong. The extract contains somewhere between 13-35+% according to what i found. Now, important question, how would deer react to it. I believe they could smell it even though it is more difficult for humans. Either way I will be trying it this season. Thanks for the information.
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Joined: 10/20/2012
Posted 11/3/2014
Has anybody had any experience in the field with the Pure Vanilla Extract vs the Imitation Stuff?
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