Can Bears Smell Thermacell? Here’s What You Should Know

Thermacell is a mosquito repellant device that helps prevent mosquitoes from biting you. Bear hunters need to keep mosquitoes at bay while hunting to avoid constant swatting motions that could mess up their chances of making a harvest.

But can bears smell the odor from a Thermacell? Would this ruin your chances of seeing a bear?

Hunters have reported that bears can smell Thermacell. Their sense of smell is incredibly strong. And if they can smell it, then they can smell you too. But a bear will be more concerned about your presence as a human than the odor from a Thermacell.

In this article, you will find more detailed information related to this question, including whether bears can smell bug spray, what odors repel them and how to prevent them from smelling you in the first place.

Also, you will find useful tips on how to prevent bears from smelling you when hunting.

Table of Contents

Can Bears Smell Thermacell?

Bears can most certainly smell the odors released from a Thermacell. A bear is believed to have the strongest sense of smell amongst all animals- including dogs. What’s more, it’s capable of picking up a scent from more than a mile off. 

Mature bears, in particular, are naturally cautious and might associate a foreign smell with a hunter. That said, bears at a bait site are more tolerant of foreign scents than small movements. In other words, they don’t associate the Thermacell with danger; hence it doesn’t necessarily spook them unless they are conditioned to associate it with humans.

Can Bears Smell Thermacell? Here's What You Should Know

Indeed, many hunters have reported harvesting bears even with their Thermacell on, meaning that it did not alarm the bears. This would have ruined the hunters’ chances of sighting the bears.

The great thing about Thermacell is that it not only keeps mosquitos off but other annoying bugs like ticks, horseflies, skeeters, and noseeums too. As such, it enables you to sit still for many hours without making unnecessary movements that could spook a bear.

Can Bears Smell Regular Bug Spray?

Bears can smell bug spray. As already mentioned, a bear’s nose is very sensitive and will pick out a scent from far away. They are also highly curious, which means they will explore anything unfamiliar in their environment, including new scents.

Additionally, bears find certain smells attractive, and bug sprays sporting good or strong odors such as citronella seem to appeal to them.

However, they dislike specific odors, finding them repulsive, e.g., neem oil. Hence, it’s advisable not to use bug sprays in your tent or sleeping space when in bear country.

As an alternative to bug spray that a bear may smell, try wearing bear protective clothing. Long sleeves, pants, and a face mask. Tuck in your shirt, wear gaiters around your boots and gloves, etc.

What Odors Help Keep Bears Away?

Bears are drawn to sweet things like honey or sweet-scented essential oils like grapefruit or lavender oil but often steer clear of pine scents, bleach, and ammonia-based smells.

As a result, pine-scented cleaners or essential oils put them off. So, if you want to repel bears, try using pure pine oil or a cleaner containing pine oil.

Bear pepper spray also can deter bears, but this is not effective long-term. Bear spray is an excellent defense for bears in close range, and many hunters and hikers carry it while recreating in the backcountry.

Honestly, do you want to know the best odor to help keep bears away?

No Odor!

Bears are attracted to so many strange and odd smells, if you really want to keep bears away go scent-free. Be a ghost- minimize your impact in the woods and slip in and out undetected!

Easier said than done…I know.

How To Prevent Bears From Smelling You While Hunting

Many people fear bears, but black and grizzly bears are hardly interested in humans and rarely attack them. Bears are generally shy and solitary animals that prefer avoiding humans.

In fact, in the last 100 years, less than 200 people have perished due to a bear attack in North America. 

That said, hunters need to maintain some simple safeguards to ensure they don’t encounter any problems. Bears can become used to humans, particularly if they learn to associate them with food. Hence a hungry bear could act more boldly.

Here’s what to do to prevent bears from smelling you when hunting:

  • ‘Hunt the wind’…in other words, pay close attention to the wind direction and hunt it accordingly. Plan you approach, stalk, campsite all in accordance with prevailing winds.
  • Pay attention to thermals if hunting in steep terrain. Generally speaking as temperatures rise, so will scent thermals from the bottom up.
  • Acclimlimate your clothing and hunting gear to the natural environment. Many hunters will leave there clothing outside, or mix it with pine needles, cedar boughs and other natural materials to cover human scent.
  • Use cover sprays- skunk spray, fox urine, and scent elimination sprays are all commonly used by bear hunters.
  • Talk with other hunters, guides or outfitters in your area and ask them what scents are good to use in the area to either attract/prevent bears from smelling you.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning on doing a bear hunt, especially in some of the warmer spring, summer or early fall seasons the flies and bugs can be horrendous!

Something as simple as a portable Thermacell unit can make all the difference, but don’t think for a second that a bear won’t smell it.

That is unless of course you hunt the wind, and take precautions to pattern your game and the environment you are hunting.

Good luck and thanks for reading!