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ThermaCELL Devices and Deer's Noses

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"Because of physical health limitations I have to limit almost all of my deer hunting to the early seasons. As a result, bugs, especially mosquitoes, are usually a big problem for me.

I've found the ThermaCELL to be extremely effective in keeping bugs away, but I have a couple of questions about odors and other ways to utilize my device.

QUESTION 1: The use of a ThermaCELL generates a slight odor. Is that slight odor a deterrent to deer? --David P. of Harlan, Iowa

ThermaCELL Devices and Deer's NosesANSWER 1: I live in Maine, second only to Alaska in terms of mosquito population. Our expanded archery season begins shortly after Labor Day, a time of year when mosquitoes can be ferocious. I also hunt bears beginning the end of August, and try as I might, I just can't shoot a bow accurately while wearing a facemask. I've found the ThermaCELL to be invaluable when hunting these early seasons.

The ThermaCELL does produce a slight odor when it warms the pad, which is treated with a chemical repellent called Allethrin. This chemical is a synthetic copy of a natural odor produced by chrysanthemum flowers, which is nature's insect repellant.

I'm not aware of any evidence as to how deer react to this odor, but I can offer my own experience. I've not personally observed any negative reaction by deer or bears to the ThermaCELL's scent. I've also never noticed any observable difference in deer and bear sightings between when I'm using a ThermaCELL and when I'm not.

If you're skeptical, ThermaCELL makes pads treated with both repellant and earth scent.

QUESTION 2: Could a ThermaCELL be used to help cover human scent by applying cover scent to a used-up card, or enhance deer scents by applying them to an empty card? --David P.

ANSWER 2: The ThermaCELL will absolutely enhance deer scents. In fact there are numerous companies that make devices designed to warm liquid deer scents. Warming scents makes them more volatile - a measure of the tendency of a liquid to vaporize - particularly in cold temperatures. By warming liquid attractant scents you potentially improve their effectiveness by increasing the rate at which they turn to gas and are distributed into the surrounding area.

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