Gas in the Woods: Does it Matter?
Flatulence. It happens. And it’s embarrassing, whether at your friend’s house, in a slow-moving elevator, or, unfortunately, beneath the covers alongside your significant other.
But do farts make a difference to wild deer in the woods? Let’s examine.
According to Live Science it’s normal to fart 15 to 20 times daily. That means if you’re a dedicated hunter who seemingly spends 95 percent of autumn in the woods, a slip and “let ’er rip” is bound to happen.
Therefore, deer are bound to smell your farts at some point. After all, their nose is far superior to ours. Ozonics Hunting states: “Deer have 297 million olfactory scent receptors in their nose. In comparison, we have 5 million and dogs have 220 million.”
Likewise, Tim Lewis, author of the book “Bows, Swamps, Whitetails,” mirrors that thought. Lewis writes that not only do deer have at least 2,000 percent more scent-receptors than humans, they also have more types of receptors. Meaning, deer can detect scents that humans simply can’t comprehend.
That helps explain why scent manufacturers have a strong presence in the outdoor industry. Becky Lux, the ATA Trade Show’s manager, says that of the 600 companies attending the Show every January, 60 (10 percent!) fall under the scent, lures and scent-elimination category.
Brian Johansen, president of Buck Stop Lure Co. and an exhibitor at the ATA Trade Show for over 20 years, never underestimates the deer’s nose. “Deer are alarmed by human odors, and that’s why we create products to combat those odors,” he said.
However, Johansen ranks farting low on his list of things to worry about in the woods.
“When it comes to scent, tooting in the woods is a minor concern,” Johansen said. “I think human body odor, like sweat, whether it comes from armpits or feet, and even bad breath, are worth more consideration than passing gas, because that dissipates rapidly in the woods,” Johansen said. In contrast, bacteria in our mouth and on our skin surfaces never stop generating foul odors.
Johansen notes that chili is a popular meal at hunting camps, and he knows guys who have shot deer after eating it and expelling its side effects.
“Honestly, I think the sounds would be more of an issue,” Johansen said. “If farts aren’t of the silent variety, the noise would definitely alert deer of a hunter’s presence.”
He said hunters can do three things to minimize their scent in the woods.
“Scent-elimination (products) reduce human odor at a molecular level with sprays, powders and wipes,” Johansen said. “Scent-absorbing clothing is another way to cover our odors, but hunters can also use hunting scents like (deer) urine or other natural outdoor odors, to draw in deer.”
Most ATA-member scent manufacturers and their product suppliers, like Buck Stop Lure Co.’s urine products, follow the guidelines and mission of the ATA Deer Protection Program. Learn more about the program here.
In his 40-plus years of hunting experience, Johansen recalls only one product tailored to flatulence.
“Back in the 1980s someone came up with a carbon diaper,” he said. “It didn’t catch on, so I’d say that’s enough evidence to conclude farting in the woods isn’t a big deal (to hunters).”
Johansen is not alone in his conclusions.
Patrick Durkin, a freelance outdoor writer and the ATA’s contributing editor, assumes all human-produced odors – such as colognes, deodorants, soaps, farts, cigarettes or gasoline – alarm deer. “Chances are, if deer are downwind of you, they’re already aware and alarmed, so farting might be the least of a hunter’s problems at that point,” Durkin said.
It’s safe to say that if the wind is swirling, whatever odors you’re giving off, deadly or not, probably send the elusive creatures slinking or high-tailing it in the opposite direction.
Johansen advises hunters to use scent-control products in conjunction with other important factors.
“Stand placement and lack of movement are vital to a successful hunt,” Johansen said. “Hunters can have all the high-tech gadgets and scent-control systems in the world, but they won’t matter if there aren’t any deer near you, or if you’re moving around like crazy in your stand.”
It’s important to remember that flatulence is only one odor that humans produce, and scent is only one factor in hunting’s grand scheme. It’s all about perspective and attention to detail.
And no, we’re not pulling your finger!