From Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine Editor Dan Schmidt
Judge Rules Ads Were Deceptive
By Daniel E. Schmidt
Editor, Deer & Deer Hunting
Perhaps the biggest news story in the hunting industry this week is out of Minnesota, where a U.S District Court Judge issued a summary judgment that found ALS Enterprises, maker of Scent-Lok clothing and technology, liable for deceptive advertising. Also named in the suit were Cabela’s and Gander Mountain, companies that either sold Scent-Lok products or were licensees who used patents to make and market their own products.
The lawsuit is three years in the making. The suit was originally filed by three Minnesota hunters who claimed they were misled by past Scent-Lok advertising campaigns that allegedly implied the clothing completely eliminates human odor. Early reports of the judgment, if it is upheld, indicate the plaintiffs would recoup the money they spent on Scent-Lok products.
Since the news of this judgment hit the Internet, we have received numerous inquiries on the legitimacy of scent-reduction products in general. We actually reported on this specific category – activated carbon – as far back as five years ago, and included the opinions of some of the best whitetail hunters in North America.
As the editor of D&DH, I receive thousands of queries each year — be it emails, letters or phone calls — from loyal readers wanting to pick my brain on everything from ethics and hunting strategies to new hunting gear. One of the most common questions I receive centers on carbon clothing: “Does it work?” My simple answer is always a qualified, “yes.”
I started using activated-carbon clothing after sharing a camp with Minnesota’s Gary Clancy in 1995. Clancy, one of North America’s most respected whitetail hunters, said carbon clothing drastically increased his success rate. He wasn’t kidding. I’ve used activated-carbon clothing ever since and have yet to be completely “busted” by a deer’s nose.
Sure, I’ve had several occasions where deer sensed something was wrong, but instead of snorting or sprinting away, they retreated with suspicious caution. On those occasions, I’ve attributed my own sloppiness — failing to shower or spray down with scent-killing spray — to the unsuccessful encounters. Clancy and I are not alone in our belief that activated-carbon clothing is an awfully effective hunting tool.
Having chased big whitetails and black bears for more than 40 years, Michigan’s Richard Smith is one of North America’s most successful whitetail hunters. Smith achieved deer hunting celebrity status by honing his skills the old-fashioned way, but has since learned to take full advantage of modern technology. Today, he’s a firm believer in activated-carbon clothing. In fact, he won’t go hunting without it. “In most cases, I wear a (activated-carbon) hood and gloves in addition to coat and pants,” Smith said. “I sometimes also wear an under layer. I’ve experienced many situations where whitetails have not winded me when they otherwise would have. Although I still pay attention to wind direction when deer hunting, it’s not always possible to predict which way whitetails will come from, and wind direction frequently shifts direction.” Although Smith will be the first to admit carbon clothing isn’t a silver bullet, he adds, “it at least reduces the chances of deer smelling me, and that’s always a plus.”
Renowned buck-hunter Doug Below agrees. “It certainly is another weapon to use against the whitetail’s nose … or at least holds them downwind for another second or two, which may result in an opportunity for a killing shot,” Below said.
Fellow outdoor writer Steve Bartylla is another respected big-buck hunter who believes in activated carbon clothing. “A whitetail’s nose can be defeated,” Bartylla said. “However, one must think of and address every item brought into the woods with them, as well as treat their bodies and clothing. (Activated-carbon clothing) then becomes the critical and final layer of defense. Taking this approach, I am able to hunt the best stands for a given day, not the best stand for a given wind. This provides me with a tremendous advantage.” “Before carbon suits, all of my hunting clothing was washed in baking soda, dried outside and stored in containers with pine limbs,” Bartylla continued. “I showered before every trip into the woods and washed my equipment in hydrogen peroxide. After all of that, I would still get winded by around 25 percent of the deer that entered bow-range. Since incorporating (activated-carbon clothing) into my odor reduction techniques, that percentage has dropped to less than 1 percent.”
Minnesota’s Pat Reeve is another firm believer. Reeve makes his living by filming and hunting mature whitetails across the country. His successes are well documented, as are his beliefs in high-tech hunting gear. “A scent suit is not a cure-all for becoming entirely scent-free, but it’s the final step to a process that helps control your odor,” Reeve said. “The first step in the process is to wash all your clothes in scent-free detergent and store them in a scent-free environment. I also will activate my suit if I haven’t done it in a while. The next step is taking a shower, using scent-free soap and shampoo, then dressing in something other than what you’re going to hunt in. I then drive to my hunting location and dress in the field — not in the truck or at the camp house. The final step is to spray everything with scent-killing spray, making sure your boots and legs get a double dose.”