I was wondering whether the deer would be able to smell bug repellent if you are wearing some while out hunting. Is there a specific type of bug repellent that can be used that is less likely to make deer shy away from the area?

  • If you can smell it, you can be sure the game can. What you really need is a repellent they won't mind.
    – Kevin
    Feb 8, 2012 at 19:13
  • 1
    @Kevin I'm a little more concerned that I cannot smell it and the game can.
    – J Lundberg
    Feb 8, 2012 at 19:23
  • Any specific animals we are talking about? Deer, turkey...? Feb 8, 2012 at 20:35
  • @ClareSteen Large game such as Deer
    – J Lundberg
    Feb 8, 2012 at 21:23
  • @ClareSteen actually turkey would be nice to know too.
    – J Lundberg
    Feb 8, 2012 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, deer will smell your bug spray. Even if you use all the fancy scent-eliminating sprays, soaps, and clothing detergents they can still smell you if you are sweaty. Most important is the wind factor: Deer will smell you if they are downwind of you.

NRA hunting advice for first-time deer hunters: http://www.nrainsights.org/Five_Things_fs.php.

I would say use the bug spray you would have used anyway. Just make sure you carefully monitor the wind and plan your hunting spot carefully.


During turkey season I practically bathe in regular deet based spray since turkeys can't smell. Thing is, this spring I had a deer walking around calmly 10-15 yards from me more than once. Can they smell it? Sure. Does it alarm them? Why should it? I would think only if they've made an association between it and danger.

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