Date: Fri, 3 Oct 1997 08:35:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Does not eating red meat give you less BO?
David Bakken wrote:
> I was talking with a very experienced bowhunter who worked
> at an archery pro shop, and asked him about scent control. He said
> one thing he does is abstain from red meat during (and a
> bit before) hunting season, because he claimed that it
> increased one's body odor (to a deer's nose, not necessarily
> a human one, of course).
> Does anyone know if this has any merit or is an old wive's
> (or old wive's husbands') tail? Any speculation from
> someone with a medical background? Thanks for any info.
There may well be some truth to it. The individual scent signature and
the "generic" scent of a species is the product of decomposition of
secretions from the sebaceous glands and some large sweat glands in the
skin. These glands produce an oily prouct that breaks down into fatty
acids of varying chain length and become rancid. There's a pattern of
the lengths that is partly species specific and one that is unique to
each individual, like fingerprints; that's how your old blind dog knows
it's you and not the mailman, because you **smell** right.
Now as to the question about meat: one function of the sweat glands is to
cool the body by evaporation; and another is to use the watery secretion
they produce to dissolve ammonia and get rid of it. It's a minor
excretory pathway for the products of protein metabolism. When amino
groups get split off they are converted to ammonia (some of them) and
excreted in sweat. That's one of the components of "locker room odor"
along with the decomposing sebaceous gland secretions.
Meat is a high-protein food, and therefore you will have more amino
groups to get rid of. It's likely that the content of ammonia in sweat
will increase as a result, and the deer will be able to detect you more
easily. I once knew an Asian girl who claimed that Occidentals "smelled
funny" and attributed it to their much higher proportion of meat in the
diet than in China. Might be true.
I don't do much bowhunting (season starts tomorrow, though) but I have
killed a fair number of deer at close range; many of them well under 25
yards. I've had them come a lot closer than that every season (when I
couldn't shoot them, of course) and it's not the least bit unusual where
I hunt to have a deer come waltzing up within 5 to 10 yards of me. I've
had them close enough to touch with the barrel of my squirrel gun. If
the wind is right and you don't move you could smell like a gymnasium and
they wouldn't care. If the wind is wrong it doesn't matter whether you
are a total vegetarian who dips himself in baking soda every day, they
are going to get a fix on you.
I believe that a lot of this scent stuff is much more for the hunter's
"peace of mind" than anything else. Keep in mind that pre-Columbian
Indians, many of whom never bathed in their entire lives, were pretty
successful deer hunters; and that out where I go in rural Virginia, I've
run into more than one Good Ole Boy whose bathing habits were less than
stellar, and they get their deer more often than not. Reading the wind
and understanding the deer's capabilities are far more important than
whether you wear a scent-lock suit or use "Odor-Away." NOTHING can
COMPLETELY eliminate your personal odor and while there is no reason not
to be as fastidious as possible, some of the gadgetry and products out
there border on the irrational. The "scent lock suit" is a prime
example: maybe they work and maybe they don't, but persoanlly I think
some clever marketer figured out a way to sell a whole bunch of Gulf War
surplus chemical protection clothing he'd bought at a fire-sale price.
It's not like no one ever killed a deer before these things were