For more than 50 years Leonard Lee Rue III has observed, researched, photographed and written about deer. He has done as much to educate the American public and hunters on the ways of the whitetail than anyone.

Rue observes that a day with high humidity (between 50 and 70 percent), temperature between 50 and 70 and with a light breeze make for ideal scenting conditions for a buck. “Under such conditions I believe a deer could detect a human’s scent from at least one-half mile,” he says.

Rue points out that rain and snow knock down your scent molecules, and colder weather later in fall/winter makes it harder for a buck to pick up and sort out your scent. I would add that for a deer to be able to smell you a half-mile, the terrain would have to be fairly flat and the trees and cover fairly open.

What’s the farthest you know that a buck has smelled you and spooked? A lot of the time (maybe most of the time) you won’t even know when a buck smells you, because he’ll get a whiff of your scent molecules on a light breeze and melt away back in the trees. You’ll never know he was there.