As hunters partaking in the great outdoors, there are several steps we take to perfect the process. Before each hunt, we painstakingly arrange our gear and equipment so nothing is forgotten and no detail is overlooked. Whether it is cleaning our guns, preparing our bows, or making sure our tree stand is in safe and functional order, we do these things in order to give ourselves the best possible chance at a successful hunt. When you factor in everything you do right, it seems like a shame to overlook even the tiniest thing that could jeopardize everything, so check it and check it twice is what we do.
Depending on who you ask and what your own personal experience has taught you, chances are there are certain issues which you may consider to be non-negotiable prior to a hunting trip. For example, we concern ourselves greatly with scent so that it is possible to better hide amongst nature, tricking the nose of deer to believe we aren’t there. In order to do this, we launder clothing in a particular fashion, we scrub our bodies a certain way, and we store our clothes to prevent the transmission of smells. All of this work and time spent can be easily ruined by hugging a loved one doused in perfume or spending five minutes on the couch, so we pass on these things in the name of avoiding the adherence of any unwanted scents.
Well, suppose you’re up in that deer stand and an urge overtakes you. Perhaps you are a smoker and the pack in your bag is calling your name. Sure, you can ignore the call, but the question is for how long? Nicotine cravings are powerful things, but you don’t want that big buck you’ve been stalking to catch wind of the smoke and head for the hills, right? So you wait to burn one until you can wait no longer, crossing your fingers that the smoke rises up, up, and away without marring your hunting experience. At the end of the day, perhaps you still didn’t see a buck, but was it chance or is that cigarette really to blame?
The answer to the question of whether or not you can get away with smoking in a deer stand is a not one that has yet been answered from a scientific standpoint. The only answers that exist are those based on the opinions of hunters who have been there and done that. Regardless of whether or not you smoke, you may have an opinion about the effects of doing so while hunting. No matter which camp you belong to, take a look at the video below. You will notice the appearance of deer in the vicinity of a hunter as he puffs away on a cigarette. He doesn’t take a shot, but he certainly could have, and although the deer do move off, they do not do so hurriedly. It’s as if they did not notice, or did not care, that the smoke was present at all.
There are some rumors circulating about hunters of days past standing near to a smoke producing fire before setting off into the woods. Those hunters are said to have done this so their bodies and clothing would take on a smoky scent, thereby masking their human odor and lulling deer into complacency. Though the success of this is widely debated, it does pose an interesting theory. Smoke is a natural occurrence that deer likely encounter in their lifetimes. Cigarette smoke, on the other hand, does not have the same smell as a woodland fire might. So with this in mind, does it seem that deer do not bolt from the smell of smoke, or could it be as simple as so few hunters smoke while hunting that we simply do not have reliable data for comparison?
Next time you’re having a smoke or watching someone else do so, pay attention to what the smoke from that cigarette does. Remember that hot air rises, as does cigarette smoke. In the absence of a fan or other mechanism to direct smoke, it will go upwards. In a room where no ventilation is present, it will settle towards the ceiling and form a lingering cloud. In nature, however, there is no ceiling. Smoke can rise and dissipate quickly, possibly quickly enough that it could go unnoticed by deer on the ground before it is carried away. Wind direction and location can further send smoke on its way as well, leaving us with no true answer. Until a controlled environment is established that allows science to work its magic, we may be left to wonder and do our own calculations, waiting and hoping for that buck to come while craving a cigarette we fear smoking at the same time or opting to tempt fate and give it a try.