How Long Does Human Scent Last

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Last updated : November 12, 2023
Alexander Knobloch

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The duration for which deer can detect human scent varies and is influenced by several factors. Research indicates that deer have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell and can remember human scents for up to six months​​.

However, the persistence of human scent in the woods depends on conditions such as terrain, weather, and the amount of scent present.

Generally, human scent lasts longer in dry conditions and areas with little wind while dissipating more rapidly in wet and windy areas​​.

It is estimated that deer can detect where you have walked for about two weeks by smelling it​​.

Some rescue dogs can follow trails for up to seven days. Yes. I know: deer – dog quite a difference, and so far, I haven’t seen any deer featured in the K-9 Magazine…

What Exactly is Scent Anyways?

Odors diffuse into the surrounding atmosphere via a particle-based mechanism, which involves molecules moving from one place to another without any physical contact between the two places.

Continuously moving, they eventually spread out through the air around them. For this reason, we place our stands downwind of where we expect deer to show up.

Does Humidity Affect Your Scent Control Strategy? 

Wind and humidity play a role in the rate at which odors disperse. As the amount of water vapor increases, so does the speed at which odorants move through the air. The higher the relative humidity, the “better” the odorant moves.

Temperature also affects scent dispersal. Lower temperatures generally mean denser air – resulting in relatively more scent molecules. 

But only until the air reaches subfreezing temperatures. Winter air is drier and, therefore delivers odors less efficiently. Less moisture in the air means that fewer odorant molecules move as far.

How Long Does Human Scent Linger?

As explained above, humidity and temperature play a significant role in how long your scent will linger. You must spend as much time as possible on your hunting property and monitor wind directions throughout the day. 

Choose a place for your stand that lets the wind transport your scent over an unattractive area for deer to pass through. According to researchers at Mississippi State University, the human scent is a mixture of hundreds of compounds – varying widely depending on what we eat, drink, or if we’re sweating, etc.

The good news is that they also found that scent-eliminating sprays can eliminate at least one-third of those compounds. 

Whitetail Deer’s Sense of Smell

Biologist Dr. Bronson Strickland of Mississippi State University found that a deer’s sense of smell can be 500 to 1,000 times more acute than a human’s.


Furthermore, scientists say that whitetails have thousands of sensitive receptors in their nostrils, which they use to sort out up to six smells at one time. 

Can Deer Tell How Far Away a Source of an Odor Is?

To answer this question, you must understand what “odor” is. Odor is a specific concentration of molecules/chemical compounds called smell. 

Can a deer tell how far away the source of a smell is? Well, I am not sure about that. But if you think it through, it makes sense to believe that a higher concentration of those molecules would make a deer more alert than a lower concentration, indicating a closer distance. 

So, when we talk about scent control, we are talking about reducing the number of molecules that reach the deer’s nose.

This reduces the concentration of the molecules reaching the deer’s nose. As a result, the deer will think you are further away if you effectively mitigate your scent.

What Can You Do About Human Scent?

How do you get rid of human smell? To reduce the number of molecules reaching a deer’s nose, you must do something about the number of molecules themselves.

Use odorless soap, wash your hunting clothes in odorless detergent, and store them in an air-tight container until your next hunting trip. Use scent-eliminating sprays; do not touch branches and trees with your bare hands.


How long does the human scent last? Humidity and temperature significantly affect how long human scent will linger.

But it is probably safe to assume that deer can smell human scent for up to six days. Maybe even longer – depending on the weather conditions. 

When we speak of “scent control,” we mean reducing the number of molecules reaching a deer’s nose by doing something about the number of these molecules themselves. 

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