Will Smoke Spook a Deer?


It’s a question that I find myself struggling to answer more often than I’d like to admit. I do most of my hunting in a small group of big personalities. Obviously, there are two camps: those that swear up and down that smoke will blowout your area and those that claim it’s not an issue and might even be an asset as it has the chance to mask your human stench for a more familiar smell. I have heard and agreed with the logic on both sides but, as is with most things, I think the real answer is somewhere in the middle. Scent control should be one of your primary concerns but if you have no choice then you have no choice am I right?

Smoke may not hurt your hunt but I don’t see any situation where the wreak of a wood fire would draw deer closer to you. I try my best to err on the side of caution with the mantra NO SMELL IS THE BEST SMELL

Think about it, how easily can you smell the barbecue or brushfire down the road? Now imagine that your sense of smell is magnified by 1000. Don’t you think that would catch your attention? I’m not saying that it’s definitely going to run all deer off but they are definitely going to notice your smell, especially if the wind is kicking in their direction. While smoke can be a common smell in certain areas it might be more foreign in others and the food you’re cooking over the fire will be especially pungent to the keen nose of your quarry. In my opinion, I say don’t do it. If you can go without the fire you should. Use scent blocker, play the wind, be smart about what you consume in the field. Scent will make or break you most of the time.


If you have no choice and you have to have a fire for warmth and or food then consider using a clean burning stove system like Esbit or Jet Boil. Homemade stoves running off of denatured alcohol can be the answer as well. If use these I make a point to use a scent blocker after. Playing the wind will be the key in any hunt though, and should be your primary focus.


Smoke scent does not have to be a death sentence for your hunt either. I know a man that swears that if a cigarette isn’t lit in his mouth he can’t kill a deer. I’m not saying that you should run out and buy yourself a pack or anything like that but if it doesn’t hinder him then it might not hinder you. One thing I have learned over the years is that hunting is a game of odds. We increase and decrease our odds by the weapons we employ, the gear we wear, and the strategy we execute. People will swear to you that pissing in the field will end your hunt while others claim that they go from the stand with no negative consequence. Some people will tell you that you won’t see anything still hunting in the Deep South and I will reply with the time I stumbled upon two does while rabbit hunting and hollering to my friend across the field while kicking up debris. It makes no sense sometimes and perfect sense the rest. All we can do is boost our odds and cross our fingers.

In the end, I say that you should keep yourself clean and scent free. People will try to sway you one way or the other, as if their opinion is the end all be all of the topic but I only offer this bit of wisdom: if some smoke might not hurt than no smoke definitely won’t hurt! In the end, it’s your hunt. You have to decide what risks you are comfortable making. Good luck to you and remember, no smell is the best smell!


How’d your hunt go? What do you think about smoke scent on the hunt? Let me know below!


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