Can Deer Smell Thermacell?

Can Deer Smell Thermacell?

Every hunter knows that deer have an excellent sense of smell. In fact, it’s their best defense!

But, can deer smell Thermacell? Or more importantly, do they associate it as a threat?

In this article, I’m going to answer some of those questions and give you a few tips on using a Thermacell for your next deer hunt.

Table of Contents

Can Deer Smell Thermacell?

Deer have over 800 olfactory receptors in their nose, easily capable of smelling the insect repellant vapor of a Thermacell. Whether or not they react negatively (and spook or run away) is directly related to hunting pressure in the area, and their tolerance of foreign odor.

The real thing question to ask is if a deer can smell my thermacell (which is inherently going to be nearby where you are sitting)…can they smell me?

Deer may not spook at the smell of a Thermacell…in fact, many hunters report great success having used Thermacell right next to deer, bear, etc.

But what about their human scent? The scent associated with their body odor, hair, clothing, etc?

The most consistent and successful deer hunters are fanatical about scent control. They always check the wind and take care to remove any foreign scents from themselves or their gear.

If you do this, it’s unlikely a thermacell is going to affect your hunt.

Is Thermacell scent-free?

Thermacell products are touted as ‘scent-free‘ however that doesn’t mean they don’t have a smell.

Take for example scent-free‘ laundry detergent. Sure, it doesn’t smell like mountain meadows or ocean breeze, but it still has a smell, right? Kind of like a clean smell or fresh?

Thermacell is the same way. The original wafers and pads do not have a particular scent. But, if you were to close your eyes and smell the fumes you would certainly smell something- it’s just hard to pinpoint what that smell is.

The bottom line is that the scent is meant to be non-intrusive. It’s not overpowering or directly associated with a human. Which is good for deer hunters.

The majority of hunters I know would trade a bit of smell for consistent insect protection.

Does Thermacell stink?

To me, a Thermacell does not stink. It does have a unique smell but I would describe it as neutral. It is neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

It smells like a neutral vapor and is not overpowering unless used in confined spaces.

Does a Thermacell spook deer?

Most hunters report that a Thermacell does not spook deer. They are very popular in the hunting community, especially during the hot and humid bowhunting seasons.

Which Thermacell is best for hunting?

The most popular Thermacell units to use for hunting are portable handheld units. These run off a butane cartridge and repellent mats to create a 15-foot zone of protection.

(It’s more like 8-10 feet) but, they do work.

The MR3000 comes is pretty lightweight and will last for about 10-12 hours off one cartridge. It’s also available in the ‘hunt pack’ version which includes a camouflage carrying case.

How To Use Your Thermacell When Deer Hunting

Hunt The Wind

“Hunt the wind” is something many experienced deer hunters have heard, or tout when they enter the woods. It basically means check the wind, and plan your hunt appropriately so that you are watching and viewing upwind.

That is, keep the wind in your face! If the wind is at your back…that means it’s blowing your human scent and thermacell scent directly in front of you where you are looking (and expecting deer).

Chances are they will smell you long before they smell that thermacell.

Your first priority should always be to check the wind direction and plan accordingly. Keep the wind in your face, and set up downwind of the area you are viewing or glassing.

Use A Hunting Blind Or Ground Blind

A Hunting blind is not only great for concealing your location and covering up movement, but it’s also great for containing scent.

By using a ground blind you limit the number of mosquitos biting you and create a ‘zone’ of protection inside the blind.

This should also contain your scent and that of the Thermacell, limiting the chances of being winded by a deer.

It’s not foolproof, but at certain times of the year, a hunting blind can be great. Especially if you are bow hunting and need to hunt in tight cover or open cover like a food plot.

Use Cover Scent

Hunters have been using cover scent since prehistoric times. And the reason is to try and fool that amazing organ on a deer- their nose!

See Also: The Science Behind A Deer’s Sense of Smell

There is some controversy on whether or not cover scents actually work, but in my opinion, they rarely do harm, and may just give you that edge of scent protection.

Deer hunting cover scents come in all shapes and forms, everything from fox urine, to doe estrus, to natural scents like earth, pine, and cedar.

Experiment with different types. Talk and network with fellow hunters in your area. If you hunt in an area with a lot of cedar trees, try making a homemade cedar cover scent.

If you hunt in a lot of fur-bearers, try something like fox urine or raccoon urine.

In any case, using a cover scent will not only disguise your human scent, but it will also blend or minimize the smell from your Thermacell.

Avoid Using It On Really Windy Days

In order for a Thermacell to really be effective, it needs to be fairly calm. I don’t recommend using a thermacell in winds over 12 mph, otherwise, the vapor will simply blow away!

In my experience, the mosquitos are often worse during dawn and dusk when winds are usually calm. Once the wind picks up, I shut my thermacell off which saves butane fuel and minimizes my foreign scent blowing all over the woods.

Avoid using your thermacell on really windy days. Unless you are hunting out of a blind, or an enclosed stand you are likely just blowing that vapor away from your area anyway.

Final Thoughts

Here is the bottom line: Bugs, and especially mosquitos are just a part of hunting in warmer climates. Some days are worse than others, and some areas are worse than others, but a Thermacall is very effective and deer do not seem to mind the scent.

If a deer (or bear) is close enough to smell your thermacell, or it’s downwind of you…you have bigger problems because that means they can probably smell you!

Take the extra precautions to control your scent, hunt the wind and you’ll start finding more success while deer hunting.

Besides, any tool to spend more time in the woods, or sit a few minutes longer (without the bugs), is time well spent. Good luck!