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Should You Worry About Scent on Your Trail Camera?

It’s a question that can only be answered with another question: “What are you intending to hunt?” From there, we can rule out scenarios where scent won’t matter very much.

If you’re hunting turkeys, that’s a negative Ghost Rider. They could care less about human odors. They may become curious by a reflective surface on your camera, but they won’t spook due to unnatural scents.

For elk, deer, and/or predators, if the location always gets a solid wind from one direction (rare, and no place the author hunts) it won’t matter so much either since the unit will always be downwind.

If you’re on doe patrol or shooting a younger buck, a little human scent may actually serve as a curiosity attractant bringing them in for a close-up photo. Does and young bucks will eventually accept the new device quickly and it will not alter their travel patterns.

In all of these situations, neutralizing unnatural scents on your camera isn’t necessary. Here’s when it will matter.

Bedding areas to deer are sacred and should only be intruded upon if absolutely necessary (like the last day of the season on a property you’ll never hunt again). If you must hang a camera close to a bedroom, do your best to scrub it of human odors.

If your hunting plans include mature bucks or elk of any age, spray your camera down. These animals are extremely sensitive to human presence and will go out of their way to avoid any perceived danger. You may even unintentionally force a whitetail buck into a nocturnal pattern, placing him effectively out of your reach.

As with most hunting-related questions, the answer is typical, “That depends.” So is the question about scent and trail cameras. It depends what animal you’re pursuing. Whatever you decide to do, take care to avoid spray on the camera lens, otherwise, you’ll end up with blurry images that won’t tell you much.  

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