D.J. Randolph | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Ozone? I’m a believer.
It surprises me that after many years on the market there are still so many doubters on the effectiveness of ozone for hunting. If you spend any time on hunting-related forums, you know that a thread about ozone quickly brings out some very serious doubters. I have to admit that at one time I was a doubter too, but after learning more about ozone and testing it in the field myself, I now include it as part of my scent-control routine.
A few years ago I listened to a presentation about ozone for hunting. I’m an engineer and had plenty of chemistry and physics in school, so the science of it all made me very curious. I had to do some research and learn more. It’s important to understand the properties of ozone that make it effective for scent elimination. Ozone is heavier than air and very unstable. When it comes in contact with odor molecules, it quickly attaches itself and changes the chemical structure of odor. It dissipates very quickly so it needs to be focused from above and directly into your scent zone. We still leave scent as we travel to and from our hunt and as we take time to get setup at our stand or blind, so it is important to consider that when preparing for a hunt.
So, armed with this knowledge, I decided to take all of my normal scent precautions. I always shower before a hunt, use scent-reducing clothing, get dressed in the field and spray down liberally. Even with these precautions, I have always believed in always hunting with the wind in my favor. I decided that for one archery season, I would hunt where I wanted, regardless of wind, and test to see if the ozone really worked. Being a veteran bowhunter, with 35-plus years of experience, this went against every instinct that I have but after many experiences, I have been very pleased with the results and now I use ozone on most of my hunts.
The best example that I have of my in-the-field testing is at a location in southern Ohio. One of the best river crossings on the property is where three hollows come together and creeks feed into the river. The hills on either side are high and steep. I’ve always steered clear of this spot for bowhunting, because it is the worst place I have ever seen for unpredictable, swirling winds. I decided that on my trip to Ohio, I would hunt this spot exclusively. So I set a stand right where the creeks feed into the river at about 16 feet high. I hunted this stand eight times, morning and night, with a variety of winds and had dozens of deer pass through. On those eight hunts, I was never busted once. This includes many mature does feeding all around me. From experience, I knew I could never have gotten away with this without ozone.
One experience like this could be considered as lucky and questioned by those who doubt. That is why I used ozone on over 25 hunts that fall. On many of those, I purposely put myself in situations that I would not have normally hunted because of the wind. What I determined is that ozone is not 100-percent guaranteed to keep me from getting winded, but I am very confident that it makes a significant difference. I’ve had many situations where mature deer were obviously downwind of me and should be spooked. There were times that they seemed nervous and on high alert but on most of these occasions, they would settle down or just walk away. It was very rare to get blown at or stomped at.
After that first season of testing, I was so impressed that I now take an ozone generator to the field with me on most of my hunts. I still use all of the standard scent precautions, but I add the ozone for that extra bit of confidence. I have also started using ozone to de-scent my clothes in between washes. I have a scent-proof bag and a scent-proof tote. My clothes and backpack go into these after every hunt. I run a cycle of ozone as soon as I put them in, and if time allows, a cycle before taking them out for the next hunt. That fresh, after-a-storm, smell that I get when I open those containers gives me confidence that there is no human odor in my gear.
So, whether ozone is for you or not is for you to decide. I can say that after using it for a few years this bowhunter is convinced, and I have made it an integral part of my scent-elimination routine.