Smoking in the south is part of the culture just as much as hunting is. Smoking in camp is acceptable but smoking while deer hunting is still highly debatable. Smoking on stand can be OK so long as you’re careful and not dealing with tons of hunting pressure. Naturally the further away the deer are the more you can get away with. Bow hunters might want to abstain it all together.
Advice for Deer Hunting Smokers
Smoking while on stand does a few things to you and the surrounding area. When you smoke you’re spreading out what’s essentially a sticky cloud of scent over the surrounding woods. The chemicals in the smoke condense on the woods and that smoke stays there. That’s why smokers’ clothes smell like smoke, even after they quit.
This will stick to your stand, the trees and the ground around where you hunt and it can stay there for months. Deer will sometimes associate this with danger and sometimes won’t. Deer aren’t born with a dictionary of smells built into their brain, all they can do is act on experience. So if that particular deer has had a bad experience with the smell of cigarettes it’ll run, or it is experiencing it for the first time and freaks out, it’ll run into the next county.
You can use this to your advantage in a few ways; either condition your deer to accept your smoking, or use it to funnel deer away while gun hunting.
Hunters swear that as a deer becomes comfortable with a scent they no longer are afraid of it. I’ve herd numerous stories of farmers working in their fields with bachelor groups of bucks standing just a few yards away... they're just conditioned to the smell. A good friend of mine who taught his son to shoot by using radishes as targets and the deer would become conditioned to move in and eat the radishes as soon as they heard the guns go off, sometimes even while they were still shooting.
Deer will slowly become conditioned to new sights, smells or sounds if given enough time and very little hunting pressure. If you’re a long time smoker and you hunt the same private ground every year you may condition your deer herd to accept the smell of smoking cigarettes while deer hunting.
Another tactic you can use is smoking to funnel deer movement while gun hunting. Bow hunters will have a very had time killing mature animals while smoking because the ranges are so close but a gun hunter can range far enough out and it is less of a problem. You can use this to your advantage by setting up a stand or blind upwind of a funnel or opening to a food plot you don’t want the deer to use.
This works best with large food plots of 5 to 10 acres or open fields the deer move into and out of. They’re headed to that food plot no matter what, but maybe they’re entering from your neighbor’s property and you can’t hunt them on that side. You can set up to direct the smoke to drive them into another opening to the field that is better for you to hunt them.
When to Smoke While Deer Hunting
Smoking while on stand is almost always going to hurt your chances. Except for precious few circumstances where deer are either far enough away or if using a scent diversion is part of the strategy. You should limit the amount of time you spend smoking and do it at times that’ll hurt you the least.
Try keeping your smoke breaks to a minimum for starters, and then only at times when deer aren’t likely to move:
- If it's frigid cold and snowing you're probably good with smoking before sun light and early morning.
- If it's early season and it's the heat of the day you can be rest assured there'll be little movement under your stand.
I’ve also heard of hunters changing stands halfway through the day to spread out the smoke. So at lunch time, move back to the truck to smoke, and then move to your new stand without worry.
Think the same way when using hunting locations or stands on different days. The smoke is going to burn out a stand site faster than if you weren’t smoking while on stand. Also be weary of deer looking up into the tree when you’re smoking. Deer can pin point exactly where a smell is coming from and the smoke is going to be a billboard to exactly where you are and what you’re doing.
Smoking in the Deer Woods
Smoking and hunting can ruin more than just the hunt. Hunting is a physically demanding sport and regular smoking decreases lung capacity. In an age of hunting when you have to work harder and harder to find success in the deer woods, especially public land, smoking will hurt your ability to hunt.
Walks of up to two miles are common nowadays and hacking and huffing through the woods will scare deer. Also not being able to physically take the hunt will hurt your success.
Other problems with smoking is polluting the woods. If you fling out cigarette buts into the woods, leave dip cans underneath your stand, or just leave trash out it’ll normally freeze and stay there for up to years at a time. If you choose to smoke while deer hunting help keep the woods clean, especially on public land. Many people don’t mind your choice to use tobacco but they will mind if you pollute the lands and make it harder for all of us to hunt.
Cigarette smoking in the deer woods is largely up to debate on if it seriously hurts your chances or not to killing mature whitetails. Choose your smoke breaks carefully and plan accordingly to where the smoke will go and how often you’ll be using each stand and you can spread out the amount of smoke in a single area. Depending on how you approach smoking while deer hunting you may be able to get away with it and get your buck.