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How weather aides game in detecting scents

The nose isn’t the strongest sensory organ in the human body, but it certainly can get us out of certain circumstances. Food burning in the oven? You’re likely to catch a whiff of it before any damage is done to your house. Electrical plumbing gone haywire? You’re likely to smell the smoldering wires before a major fire comes your way. Your not-so-favorite person walking towards you from 300 yards with your back to them? Unless they have really bad hygiene, you’re likely to not catch a whiff of them until they are right upon you.

While the nose isn’t our strongest sensory organ, it is the strongest of many animals on this planet. It has been known that bears can smell food up to 18 miles away, while other animals like snakes have a well-formed sense of smell that allows them to taste the air. Man’s best friend the dog, also has a powerful sense of smell that allows them to smell an object and track it down. Did you know though that some game like deer, have a sense of smell that is nearly one-third more powerful than a dog’s? It is one of the most powerful defense mechanisms for deer and one of the many reasons you hear hunters talking about the wind conditions.

One of the reasons their sense of smell is so powerful is due to their wet snouts. If you’ve ever touched a dog’s nose, you know just how wet it can be. It’s this moist snout that acts as a sticky surface and catches the tiniest molecules in the air, allowing their sense of smell to detect even the faintest scent. It’s for this reason, that humans can’t really camouflage their scent from game.

Keep in mind that the wet snouts of animals allows them to detect smells better. If you’re heading out hunting Monday morning across Mid-Missouri, the damp conditions will work against you. With fog likely to form following the recent cold front passage, we’ll see high humidity values across the region. Humid air traps smells and causes them to linger longer than they usually would. It’s the perfect conditions for many game to better sense hunters.

While there isn’t any way to fully fool game, you can use the wind to your advantage to keep your smell from lingering downstream. The term is called “playing the wind,” which essentially means the hunter will approach an area where his/her scent isn’t being transferred by the wind into areas where game might be. This means walking into the wind, which can be quite chilly on some mornings.

Here in Mid-Missouri for the morning hours on Monday winds are expected to be out of the southwest up to 6 mph. (250-270 degrees). With the damp conditions in place, the southwest winds will carry the scent downstream (to the northwest) through the morning hours. However, through the afternoon hours, a cold front will track through Mid-Missouri, quickly shifting winds out of the northwest. This wind shift will occur near lunchtime, where we could see some gusts as high as 25 mph. While it’s not the most ideal weather for hunting, now you know just why knowing the weather can help you when hunting for game.

Just be glad turkeys can’t smell like deer can because we would never be able to catch them. Turkeys can smell humans about as well as humans can smell turkeys. Turkeys have excellent hearing, with exceptionally keen eyesight and see in color. Their sense of taste is pretty decent as well. While winds don’t really play into turkey hunting, it’s always important to remember their weaknesses, which are their sense of smell and poor night vision. This is why hunting right before sunrise is usually the best, because this is when turkeys usually start to feed and breed.

So now you know just how important weather is when deciding to hunt. Stay with ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather as we continue to track the weather conditions and follow us on Twitter @ABC17Stormtrack.

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