In my opinion, preparing your hunting clothes is critical to success when pursuing whitetail deer. A deer’s number one defense is their nose. Starting with clean clothing is an important detail to consider prior to the start of deer season.
Just like anything else when it comes to hunting whitetail deer, the topic of preparing hunting clothes can bring out a passionate response. Some like to bag their clothes in leaves to create a natural scent. I have heard of whitetail hunters smoking their clothes near a fire to add cover scent. Many people just wash them and hang them outside to air out for several days prior to their hunt. Some will tell you it doesn’t matter because you should always play the wind.
Not any one of these is right or wrong. While opinions vary on this topic, the fact is everything you do as a whitetail hunter is centered around beating a whitetail deer’s nose. How you go about that is up to you.
within my control. Mark Kenyon has stated many times on his podcast that he believes that with all the things out of our control we should focus even more energy on the things we can control. I agree with this 100 percent.
Hunting Clothes – Washing
In preparing my clothing I wash everything in scent free detergent. In fact, all that we use in our washer and dryer are scent free products all year long. I like to run a load of towels just prior to washing my hunting clothes. Old habit I have always used to help draw any smells etc. from the washer tub. Even with scent free detergent I feel nervous about residual scent in my machine.
All of my outer wear is always washed in scent free hunting detergent. Most modern hunting detergents do not have Ultra Violate (UV) brighteners used in household laundry detergents. UV brighteners keep the colors bold and the white bright a nice feature for my blue jeans and t-shirts but not for my hunting clothes. Science has proven that whitetail deer see best within the ultra violet spectrum. By not brightening the UV on my clothing I feel I am hidden better and not alerting game to my presence. Base layers, socks, towels etc. are washed in our normal scent free laundry detergent.
I like the gentle cycle as to not tear up my expensive clothes. My machine has a fresh water rinse option that I like to use refill the tub with clean rinse water to help wash away any residue. I have a few carbon based garments that require TLC to not break down the activated carbon. The gentle cycle doesn’t seem to beat up my clothes and the activated carbon seems to be still working.
Hunting Clothes – Drying
Once my clothes are dry I transfer them to a clean plastic tub. I clean the tub with scent free soap and water and allow it to air dry. Because I use the same tub every year and always clean the tub to be sure there is nothing inside to contaminate my clothing.
I fear contamination so much that I refuse to touch my clothing with bare hands after the wash cycle. Instead I put on some nitrile gloves to transfer the clothing to the tub. Maybe it is overkill. That is the great thing about hunting, you can do what you feel is necessary to be successful. In my mind, why not take every precaution to start as clean as possible.
I like to dry my clothing on a line outside for at least 18 hours. We live in the country so a few camouflage garments hanging doesn’t bother anyone or break any HOA regulations. In the winter I use my dryer, but for as long as I can I hang my clothes outside. I like them to air out well and be as clean smelling as possible. If you cannot air dry, then use your dryer but be sure it is clean.
Clean Dryer- Clean Clothes
When I use my dryer for my gear I still clean the dryer well. I run a load of towels with scent free dryer sheets. Prior to my clothes going in, I spray the inside with scent killing spray and allow it to dry thoroughly. I do not know if this is bad for the dryer so if you choose to do this, it is at your own risk. The lint screen gets cleaned extremely well. including the pocket it goes into.
With my dryer clean, I set the clothes in the dryer (using gloves) and dry per the instructions on the garments. I look at everything before I wash it to double check the dryer instructions. If I have a mixed bag of instructions, I choose the lowest setting recommended on the clothes. It may take longer, but longer on lower has never failed me. To hot of temps can ruin your gear.
I hang my carbon based clothing out to dry and activate in the dryer separate from my other items. Carbon clothing requires care and you need to follow the manufacturer instructions. I rarely wash my carbon clothing more than one time a year. I will re-activate them in the dryer per the intervals on the garment instructions.
Hunting Clothes – Storage
When all my clothing is dried on the line or in the dryer, storage is the next consideration. I use several Plano Sportsman Storage trunks with a gasket installed on the lid. The models I have use have wheels and make moving them around easier. Also these are great for loading gear into the truck prior to the hunt for quick dress option in the field. When adding or removing clothing from my storage I always use the nitrile gloves or any clean pair of gloves.
I organize my clothes by type. Hats and gloves in one bag, vests and layering pieces in another etc. This way when I am preparing for a hunt, I can determine what I need and know where I can find it. Everything remains scent free all the way to the field using the trunk system.
This is what works for me and the way I hunt. To me, when everything I can control is handled, my focus stays on the task at hand. Clean clothing is a big part of my confidence when I take the field.
I may be OCD when it comes to handing my clothing, but this is the WHITETAIL OCD blog so OCD gets a pass on here.
Good Luck everyone