Smoking While Hunting – Can Deer Smell Cigarette Smoke?

by Derrick | Last Updated: November 10, 2021

In the hunting world, we can find a little bit of everything. We have hunters who are very rigorous concerning the subject of scent control. But we will also find those who are much more flexible on this subject. Many hunters enjoy smoking while hunting deer. This issue has been a debate for several years and begs the question, can deer smell cigarette smoke?

Of course, deer can smell cigarette smoke. Deer have 297 million olfactory receptors in their nose. Numerous studies have shown that deer’s sense of smell is 500 to 1000 times superior to people. But the question to ask is perhaps not whether they can smell smoke, but how it affects hunting.

The truth is that there is still no scientific support to explain whether cigarette smoke can affect the hunting rate of deer. Many hunters spend hours trying to reduce their body odor. While other hunters smoke when they hunt and claim to be very successful. Because of all these factors, today, we will look at several topics of interest related to cigarette smoke and deer hunting in this article.

Is It Possible To Smoke While Hunting A Deer?

Incredible as it may seem to you, there are many regions where smoking is part of the hunting culture and ritual. Many hunters smoke in camp and the hunting stand. But the debate arises when hunters smoke during the hunting day.

The reality is that after many years of discussion, there is still debate on this issue, and no consensus is in sight at this time. Smoking can be a tolerable option as long as the person is extremely careful and the pressure of the hunt allows it. Due to the deer’s strong sense of smell, it would be more convenient to smoke when they are far away than visible and close.

Deer Reaction To Cigarette Smoke

It is challenging to be sure what the specific reaction of a deer will be when it detects cigarette smoke. We know that any odor that is not natural to the deer could be a clear red flag.

Many hunters claim that the smell of smoke is somehow natural, for example, when forest fires occur. However, this theory loses force since fires are not an everyday event. Many deer populations can go their entire lives without ever seeing fire.

Despite all this, hunters fond of smoking while hunting claim that deer ignore the smoke and even claim that smoke attracts them.

Because of the deer’s keen sense of smell, it will be straightforward for them to detect the scent of a cigarette from a distance, which can prompt them to flee immediately. Some hunters are methodical with body odor abatement strategies. In that case, smoking on the hunt will not be a logical choice to achieve the objective.

Strictly speaking about the elimination of strong odors, cigarette smoke falls into this category. This smoke represents a very intense odor that people can perceive very well from a distance so that deer can sense it much farther away. In addition, the wind can carry the smoke easily and quickly, which is another factor that can turn against us.

The controversy over this issue centers on the fact that we know very little about how this smell may or may not condition the deer’s behavior. Everything revolves around the perceptions and speculations of hunters. Some support the idea of smoking during the hunt, and others believe the opposite.

The Personality Of The Deer Can Be A Determining Factor

Each deer population can have completely different behavior. This fact is not only true for people; each deer can develop a unique and distinct personality. An undeniable fact is that mature deer, especially males, reach their age thanks to a cautious and distrustful character. When a deer smells something it has never smelled before, it is likely to behave cautiously.

Many of these deer that have been able to reach maturity have a kind of sixth sense that warns them of danger in advance. These deer pay attention to the slightest change in the environment and simply retreat, not allowing themselves the luxury of being overcome by curiosity. In these cases, the hunter who smokes is disadvantaged since cigarette smoke will always play against him.

However, there are also cases of deer that do not move away from cigarette smoke. This behavior will depend on the animal’s curious personality, age, maturity, and experience with predators.

Does The Smell Of Cigarettes Scare Deer?

There is still no solid evidence to answer this complex question. However, tangible elements can give us signs of possible deer behavior related to cigarette smoke.

The way to analyze this issue is to review three fundamental aspects: the conditioned behavior of the deer, the animal’s personality, and the location of the odor.

The Conditioned Behavior Of The Deer

A deer’s habitual behavior is usually something it builds up through associations with previous events. In many cases, deer will have no prior association with cigarette smoke.

But there may be cases where deer can face cigarette smoke with people who were not necessarily hunters. These facts mean that there is a significant probability that the deer will not associate cigarette smoke with a previous negative experience. Under this scenario, the deer may associate smoke with human behavior that does not involve danger.

The Particular Personality Of Each Deer

Deer have very different personalities. Each deer’s reaction may be unique from another animal’s, even when sharing the same context. A shy or cautious deer will be at a high level of alertness and is likely to be fearful when perceiving cigarette smoke. On the other hand, a more curious deer may not shy away from the site. Instead, they may want to explore the new scent even further, but the big problem is that it is unlikely to live long.

Scent Location

The location of the scent is another essential factor to consider. For example, suppose a deer smells cigarette smoke on a trail. In that case, it will most likely become alert because it knows it is in an environment of natural human presence and continues on its way in relative peace. However, if the deer smells the same odor of smoke off the trail, it is likely to panic wildly.

Deer can distinguish the same experience depending on location. A deer may not be afraid of smoke on the road, in the backyard of a house, or in other places where people pass through. But that same odor in a human environment may generate a radically different reaction.

None of the above means that there are no successful hunters who smoke. A host of factors can contribute to their success: wind flow, their strategies, and tactics, luck, or a mix of all. The point we must learn is that deer have complex behavior that has many layers.

There is not only one answer to whether a deer is afraid of cigarette smoke or whether hunting and smoking help or hurt the outcome. What counts is to be very attentive to the animal’s behavior, to understand what type of personality it has and how its behavior varies depending on its location.

Recommendations For Hunters Who Smoke

If you like to smoke while hunting, you should be aware that doing so while hunting can significantly affect your chances. That said, here you will find some tips that may be helpful if you decide to smoke and hunt simultaneously.

  • Reduce smoking breaks.
  • If it is freezing, it may be better to smoke before sunrise and first thing in the morning.
  • At lunchtime, return to the truck or camp to smoke and then return to the hunting stand.
  • Be very aware of deer looking into the tree stand when you are smoking. A deer can determine precisely where the scent is coming from, and the smoke will be an obvious sign of your location and what you are doing.

A Final Thought On Deer And Cigarette Smoke

No rule or regulation prevents smoking and deer hunting at the same time. Nor is there any evidence to confirm the mainstream assumption that smoking decreases the chances of success. There is even less evidence to verify that cigarette smoke can attract deer rather than drive them away.

The only thing that is certain so far is that you have to understand the animal’s behavior and execute the strategy that suits you best.