Stay bug free and scent free when deer hunting.

Stay Invisible to Deer & Insects: Scent-Free Bug Protection for Bow Hunters

As a bow hunter, you know the importance of staying undetected by your prey while navigating through the great outdoors. The last thing you want is for pesky insects like ticks and mosquitoes to give away your position. In this blog post, we’ll share effective, scent-free strategies for keeping these biting pests at bay, so you can focus on the hunt.

Having a strong insect repellent strategy is important to me specifically because I have had Lyme Disease and after going through the antibiotics and fear that comes with it I take bug control a lot more seriously than I used to. Ticks, mosquitos, chiggers, spiders, and nats are the enemy of all hunters whether you are deer hunting in the early season or turkey hunting in the spring. Having a strategy that not only keeps them at bay but also keeps you scent free is easier than you might think.

Deer have an exceptional sense of smell, which they rely on for detecting danger, finding food, and communicating with other deer. They can detect scents from miles away and are known to be sensitive to a wide range of odors, including those from humans. That’s why having an odorless insect-repellent strategy is the best strategy for bow hunters.

Treat Your Clothing and Gear with Permethrin

Permethrin is an example of a scent-free insecticide that can be applied to clothing and gear rather than the skin. It dries virtually odorless, making it less likely to be detected by deer. Apply it to your hunting clothes, boots, and gear following the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember, it should not be applied directly to the skin. This treatment can last for several weeks, providing ongoing protection during your hunting trips.

There are liquid spray and aerosol spray options for applying permethrin to your hunting clothing and gear. I highly recommend using liquid spray options as aerosol sprays tend to fail and you end up losing a portion of the contents. This stuff works and works well when applied to your clothing correctly and it can last most of the hunting season.

Some available options are:

Sawyer Permethrin Spray

Use Insect Shield Treated Hunting Clothing

Insect Shield is a company that has a sophisticated process that allows them to embed permethrin into the fibers of the clothing they treat. Products that are advertised with the “Insect Shield” trademark provide permethrin protection for up to 70 washes of the garment or the expected lifetime of the product.

I tested an Insect Shield-treated hoodie this spring and it did an incredible job of repelling bugs. I did not have any issues while family members of mine who were scouting with me weren’t quite as lucky. Insect Shield sells their own products while hunting clothing companies like Sitka and Forloh partner with Insect Shield to provide this high level of bug protection in some of the early-season deer hunting and turkey hunting clothing they sell.

Practice Good Scent Control

Practice good scent control. Shower with a scent-free soap before heading out, and use scent-free laundry detergent to wash your hunting clothes. Store your hunting clothes in a sealed container away from human odors. These measures will help minimize your scent, making it harder for both deer and insects to detect your presence. Believe it or not, bugs are drawn to strong odors too.

Cover Up

Wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves to minimize exposed skin. This will not only help protect you from insect bites but also reduce the amount of skin that can release scent. Choose lightweight, breathable materials to avoid overheating.

Use Physical Barriers

While in the field, use physical barriers such as bug nets, especially around your head and neck. This will help keep insects away from your face and reduce the chances of them buzzing around you, which could alert deer to your presence.

Use Odor or Scent Free Bug Repellent

While I personally only use bug sprays or repellents during the spring turkey season, if you are going to use any type of bug repellent, I recommend using those advertised as having little to no scent. I don’t think I’ve come across any type of bug spray that didn’t have some kind of smell, so I stay away from it when hunting deer.

I used to carry a Thermocell mosquito repellent device with me on most of my early-season hunts and it was very effective at keeping bugs at bay. I stopped using it because I didn’t trust the amount of scent being produced by it. Call me paranoid, but I want to minimize my signature and maximize my opportunities.


By incorporating these scent-free insect prevention strategies into your bow hunting routine, you’ll stay undetected by both deer and insects. This will not only improve your hunting experience but also protect you from potential health risks posed by ticks and other insect bites. So gear up, stay scent-free, and enjoy a successful hunting season.

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