Last Friday I was at my local outdoor store standing in line at the cash register counter. The person ahead of me was causing all sorts of problems for the check-out gal which meant D-E-L-A-Y…gosh, I hate when that happens but the option of choosing a different line wasn’t much more promising. So, I stuck it out and tried my best to maintain a patient state of mind.
During this time it gave me ample opportunity to eavesdrop on the customer’s conversation behind me. It was a husband and wife, both somewhere in their 50’s I suspect, weighing the benefits of some new camouflage clothing. The guy — he wanted to purchase a new “scent blocker” suit of some kind made from some sort of activated charcoal purported to do its disguising magic on the olfactory senses of game animals. The wife—she wanted the husband to own some nice-looking camouflage clothing, but not the specialized “scent blocker” type stuff. She wanted her hubby to purchase clothing that he could wear out and about in the neighborhood. Clothing that, shall we say, was multi-functional by being able to be worn during hunting season but also during the other seasons when a coat might ordinarily be appropriate.
Soon, their bantering captured my attention and I couldn’t help but turn around to take a peek at the participants. You could see it written all over the guy’s face that he really wanted to try this new specialized clothing that many of the so-called experts are bragging about. That’s when she sternly said it…the coup de grâce statement that seemingly ended this particular sportsman’s quest for some new high-tech, scent management duds. “You’re not going to buy some specialized clothing that you only wear a few days out hunting each year. Get a nice camo coat that you can wear beyond just the hunting season.”
I watched as his next action was to hang the camo suit back on the rack without uttering even a hint of a rebuttal. Truth is, even if this lady was my own wife in this situation I would have had a hard time arguing with that logic. I’d like to think I wouldn’t give up quite so easy…but the point is certain specialized function clothing just doesn’t automatically make sense for every hunter.
The growing craze in the hunting world promoting various forms of scent management technology might on the surface have some merit in the science world. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have a PhD behind my name to add much credible evidence to the contrary. Still, common sense tells me that for centuries man has been able to successfully hunt without using a suit made out of charcoal material. As far as I’m concerned, and you can call me old fashioned here, but owning such clothing is probably not going to make or break you as a hunter.
In a nutshell, the theory behind most scent management clothing is to use activated carbon materials to attract and hold gases released naturally by the body producing detectable odor. Think of it this way…theoretically, the next time you go out on a date you would not have to shower before leaving home IF you are wearing the right type of scent-grabbing clothes. That’s right…any odors your stinky, bacteria-laden body might be giving off would be intercepted by the clothing you are wearing and your date would not be any the wiser. Actually, she shouldn’t notice your underlying stench until later…when some of the clothing might come off…but we won’t take it any further than that now will we?
Now, of course, wearing scent blocking clothing is not an adequate substitute for good hygiene habits. Even if you wear one of those expense suits you’re still expected to be clean and cologne/deodorant free. The makers of the various suits and odor management systems only recommend their clothing be used as part of an overall scent management plan where the suit becomes an additional tool further giving the hunter the tactical edge with cautious game animals.
When it comes to scent control clothing the options are many and the pricing is…well, for some products almost out of control. If you were to get outfitted head to toe with all the gear necessary to totally eliminate any threat of being exposed in the woods it would likely cost as much money as that fancy gun or bow you now tote. In fact, depending on the system being purchased, a good jacket alone could cost $200 to $300 or more. Not to mention the pants, the shoes, the underwear, the gloves, the head-wear and other accessories you would obviously need to purchase to complete the system.
Let’s not forget that being successful as a hunter requires attention to detail…and certainly odor management is a key aspect when the game animals being hunted can sniff you out. Even so, keep in mind that the choice of clothing you make has limitations and even the best hunting clothing money can buy will not solve underlying body odor issues or off-set poor hunting technique. This fall you can sport the most high-tech gear possible but it won’t make up for any deficiencies you might have in bringing you closer to the game you want to kill.
Admittedly, I do not currently own any scent control clothing nor do I have any deep desire to purchase any such garments in the near future. To me the concept is nothing but a novelty used to get sportsmen to buy more unnecessary gear to fill the closet. Call me naive, call me old-fashioned, if you will…but the concept just seems to me to be a way to ring up the totals on the store cash register. It also kind of reminds me of the guy who bought those once-popular deer whistles and mounted them on the truck bumper to ward off highway-crossing deer. Oh sure, they worked…but not for the reasons you might expect. Once mounted on the truck most drivers actually paid greater attention to the ditches because they wanted to see their $20 investment working with the deer running back into the woods.
Same holds true for this specialized clothing. Does the investment actually work because the science behind it is so fool-proof…or, does it work because the hunter who just heavily invested in it now takes the extra precautions necessary to ensure his investment succeeds, much like the old deer whistle did?
Nope, I have to give that wife in the store some credit. She wasn’t opposed to her husband purchasing some new camo clothing for hunting this season. Nope, instead she wanted to make sure that what he was buying made complete sense for his hunting lifestyle. She clearly understood the impracticality of spending hundreds of dollars on some unique clothing system that was highly specialized for a certain purpose. It just took a blunt statement directed at her husband to help him realize that he didn’t need it, either.
So, if you think you need scent control clothing to make you a better, more successful hunter…give it some further thought before making the investment. If you read the glamorous product reviews and listen to the famous spokes-people you will come away thinking that hunting without the aid of such clothing is being foolhardy in this 21st Century.
Well, my friend, I’m here to tell you that for my money I plan to invest in other types of hunting gear to increase my overall enjoyment of the hunting experience this fall. In so doing, I’m not dissing the manufacturers of scent control wearables…they’ve just failed to convince me that I can only be a successful hunter by using their particular clothing this fall. Truth is, big game hunting just isn’t that simple or it wouldn’t be any fun. And my hunch is that time will eventually prove that activated carbon clothing is only a fad that will fail to achieve the objective of revolutionizing the manner in which we all hunt.
My suggestion…save your money and find some other “essential” hunting equipment to purchase for the coming fall hunting season.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.