Scent Control: Fact or Fiction?
By Bud Utecht

Guilty, yup. I have to admit not using scent control for my cameras. I have used wipes, rubber boots, and everything on the market to keep the areas free of human odor. My personal results were very disappointing for all the time and effort expended on scent control. So why do animals’ frequent areas that have cameras while other areas they seem to leave soon after the cameras are placed? There can be many issues and yes I do have these problems as well. While scent can be an issue, I am convinced that wildlife can easily tell what the scent came from, the direction it was traveling, and how old it is. Frankly if you’re not standing in the tracks, some wildlife are not bothered whether the tracks are four hours or four days old.

The two biggest reasons your wildlife will avoid your cameras are as follows. Seasonal changes have a huge impact on where animals will be. Sometimes you think that you have scared everything out of the county, but what is really going on may be that the wildlife has changed venues. This spring I was getting some great pictures of a sow and her new born twins. The camera was placed at a spring high on a ridge. She would come soak in the water while the cubs played on shore. On her off days a rather large male would come soak as well. Suddenly, no more bears at all. Had I spooked them out? Very soon I was getting pictures of them in the lower cooler areas. They just moved off the sunny side of the mountain which likely had nothing to do with me. Now on that same ridge in the spring, I would get pictures of deer and bobcat quite regularly, eventually they left as well. My cameras went with them.

Many people believe that animals reroute because of the scent. However, I tend to believe it is the camera itself... Placing a camera very close to the trail or right on the trail is very likely going to cause wildlife to avoid that spot. Some wildlife may just circle away from it or change trails altogether. The flash is another obstacle. IR or infrared flash is not always invisible to animals. Most companies have a flash that is invisible, however I get really blurry pictures with these. You will know if they see the flash, as night photos tend to have the wildlife staring the camera down.

I have cameras that are left out for months at a time and some that get checked almost weekly. Scent does not seem to be an issue in either situation. I feel set up is, by far, more important than scent control.

Bud Utecht is an avid wildlife enthusiast and trail camera specialist. His trail cameras are strategically placed throughout the Maine Woods. Feel free to email Bud for trail camera tips at

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