A Whitefish’s sense of smell is as good as beyond our comprehension.
My bird dog would lock himself on point while retrieving a downed bird.
Somehow, this dog could smell a woodcock through all the heady capercaillie scent that swirled around its muzzle. His nose was buried in hot feathers!
How could this dog smell a hidden bird with another bird in its mouth?
And how are bomb detection dogs able to detect human scent on a tiny exploded fragment of a bomb?
Older, more experienced deer can easily tell when a tree stand is being used. And they’ll shy away often, especially during the day.
A few inches of snow on the leaves of the forest showed that a deer had walked straight to the base of the tree that was holding my tree stand. Deer prints on boot marks at the base of the old white pine.
And it was evident that the white tail had stood for a while, moving its feet back and forth. Every cleft hoof print that was seen there next to the tree was actually a snapshot of a fleeting emotion from that cautious animal.
Our scent hangs like fog and does not evaporate in a white whale’s nose for days.
Some younger whitetail have also learned to be wary of a spot in the forest that is saturated with the smell of a hunter.
The scent looks like a colored cloud of smoke.
The smoking metaphor helps us imagine what it must be like to have a white-tailed sense of smell.
So let’s assume that the scent could be colored like a rainbow, the oldest scent to the freshest scent reflecting the colors of the spectrum.
Therefore, on the one hand, old odor could be represented by blue smoke that is perhaps up to a week old. When it got older it would turn gray and dissolve, almost undetectable.
Newer scent would be yellow smoke, say, only three days old, and orange smoke would be only two days old. And red smoke was fresh scent, deposited on the other side of the visible spectrum from blue within 24 hours.
Now take a tree stand that has a hunter in it every day for a week. Throw a smoke bomb of every color, red, orange, yellow, and blue around the base of the tree to represent those days of the old fragrance. That gives us a visual representation of what a whitetail smells like.
Now, if you were an older whitetail tail and even wandering near a tree with multi-colored smoke swirling around with wind currents and thermals, it would be enough for you to at least stop and stomp your foot.
Most hunters believe that the only way to successfully hunt whitetails is from a stand, whether it’s a tree stand or a floor blind.
Hunting from a stand seems simple, logical and easy. And it has to be the best way, because that’s how most of the TV hunting experts hunt.
But it was the time when we could hike from ridge to ridge, in front of portable tree stands and videos, playing the wind, still chasing.
Many of us know that the first or second time in a herd, the hunt is most productive. We often save selection stands until the rut reaches its peak.
When we hunt from the same stand for several days, we often see a drop in activity.
And forget about it on the fourth, fifth, 10th, and 15th consecutive days.
Visualize the smoke metaphor. Our scent builds up and lasts near a booth for days. If we use it day in and day out, Whitetail will look at us better than we look at them.
And then, as we stand in the same position day after day, we see fewer and fewer deer.
The more tree stands and roller blinds a hunter has in different places, the better the chances of seeing deer, because we let our smell evaporate, not to mention the greyhound at the deer hunter’s game of chess.
And deer hunters who perform various stand movements have a better chance of fooling the white tail’s nose and getting a checkmate.
Oak Duke writes a weekly column that appears on the Outdoors page.
This article originally appeared on The Evening Tribune: Game of Forest Chess: How to Overcome the Whitetail’s Keen sense of smell