View Full Version : Stove Smoke and Effects on Game

07-24-2009, 08:47 AM
I have always been hesitant to run my stove when elk hunting so as to not scare them away from the area. Half the fun of being out is to have the stove going. Is this an unnecessary concern?


07-24-2009, 09:52 AM
You'll get different opinions on this, some think smoke can spook game, some don't. But (I'm talking Rocky Mountains here) I think if you camp downhill of where you'll be hunting, you should be OK since your stove will be running during the times of the day when the smoke will go downhill. The way I look at it is if I don't absolutely need a fire to keep warm I don't risk it, and when it's cold enough to need a fire, I don't worry about it--I figure the advantage of keeping warm and "staying out there" and hunting hard outweigh the risk of spooking game with smoke.

Jim N
07-24-2009, 09:58 AM
I can't help but think that if your camp smoke has the potential to alert game, than you are simply camping too close to your core hunting area.

07-24-2009, 10:06 AM
I'm with Jim. If the smoke is getting to the elk. What's stopping the other smells from camp getting to the elk?

Scoutin' Wyo
07-24-2009, 10:25 AM
Stove smoke is the smell I worry about the least. I think human stench is more alerting to game than pine wood smoke.

07-24-2009, 10:56 AM
I was thinking more along the lines of what Smokepole is saying. I almost alway set up a base camp and return to it each night, and in that scenario, a fire is not such a big deal. But I was re-reading Patrick's essay on "Getting Further Back" and thought about the times I dreaded the long trek back to camp. How great would it have been to just setup camp where I ended up each night. I would certainly try to find a relatively hidden place to camp, but what to do about the stove smoke?

07-24-2009, 11:02 AM
Stove smoke is the smell I worry about the least. I think human stench is more alerting to game than pine wood smoke.

I agree -- worry way more about your own sweat -- between the smoke of wild land fires and the fact that campgrounds throughout the mountains have had campfires all summer they're used to the smell.
I've had tracks in the snow not 50 yards outside the tipi come morning. Once woke to pee and had a group of elk grazing right next to camp (at 2:00 am it was before legal shooting time/light). Admitedly the stove had burned out by then, but the smoke had been there and the smell must have still been evident to the keen nose of game.

I simply don't worry about it.

07-24-2009, 11:05 AM
I'll suggest it depends on the area and the elk. The more remote, the greater the probability that smoke or other smells, or something new in the hood will make them spooky. But I know very few areas in the US Rockies or coastal ranges where it is so remote that humans don't show up occasionally with fires, odd smells and noises.

I often camp in elk country and find they, sometimes moose, will graze in nearby meadows, even using a wood stove and/or camp fire as long as you're not doing mechanized things and making a lot of noise. One night the year before last I had a BIG bull elk suddenly bugle within a few (?) yards of my 12-man while the stove was still warm. Scared us half to death.

I have occasionally hunted high bowls with mixed meadows and timber and moved in a couple of days early. We scouted around being quiet but not super stealthy, and often as not, elk have been grazing the meadows opening morning. The biggest problem is other hunters "sneaking" up the valley, which invariably spooks them. In other, less remote areas, it’s the moto hunters suddenly roaring around that REALLY moves them out. So most of the time, by itself, I don't think a small, cleanly burned wood stove will be a significant factor.

07-24-2009, 11:08 AM
I don't worry about the smoke, but the game should worry about the warm, well fed, well rested hunter!!

07-24-2009, 12:38 PM
We don't worry about it at all. Have even had a herd of fifty elk walk right up a draw into our camp with the stove burning and the smoke rolling down the draw right to the elk. It was tragic..... for the elk.

Uncle Jake
07-24-2009, 06:08 PM
Smoke is your friend. A good smudge fire will get rid of your human scent completely. The last deer I shot with my bow was from a ground blind at 15 feet- after the lead doe had walked within 3 feet from me. The smell of smoke didn't bother them one bit. I have had numerous other times with elk (but nothing legal :rolleyes: ) bedding down within 35 yards from me, and again, I was saturated with wood smoke.

I would be more worried about sweat, or the greasy sausages from breakfast, than smoke.

Smudge fire is your friend!

07-24-2009, 06:28 PM
These two were so scared of smoke they walked right into camp. The stove was still smoking when the triggers were tripped. We actually walked the ten to twenty steps back to the tipi to have some hot coco to warm us up before starting the work. Like I said, tragic....


07-24-2009, 07:11 PM
Last year while I was camped near the treeline in MT - I had the stove going and the elk down below me on the north facing meadows .... they came right up on the tipi at night (stove smoldering) and I thought I was going to get trampled a time or two.
The area has had zero camping pressure and light hunting pressure.

07-25-2009, 07:40 AM
My experience has also been that wood smoke is a fantastic scent cover. Far more effective than any other single scent cover or eliminator system. I do the standard stuff in trying to keep my clothes free of human scent by washing then in either baking soda or a commercial wash prior to the hunt and minimising my BO (esp from sweating) by keeping clean with a scent free soap. However in addition to that, once I am at my hunting spot and have put my hunting clothing on, I will (whenever possible build a substantial fire, to saturate myself and my clothing with the smell of fresh wood smoke. It is amazingly effective. I come upon deer within 15 yards while in plain view of them (in a light swirly wind), their reaction was one of alert, but reserved curiosity rather thant alarm.

09-15-2013, 06:41 PM
I figured I'd dust off this old thread rather than start a new one. Bottom-line: the stoves DO NOT spook game.

I think I put the myth that the smoke from a stove will spook animals to bed! We had a fire every morning and every night. One of us would stick our shoulders out of our sleeping bags, through in a fire starter and a few pieces of wood and wait until the tent warmed up! There were people staying in 5-star resorts in Aspen that didn't have it as good as us! One morning in particular it was rather cool with moisture in the air after a mid-night rain and the wind was still. There was a white cloud of smoke the stove had created hanging in the valley in the high-mountain air. We could see it had drifted straight to some cow elk feeding on a hillside. I can say with utter certainty the smoke has absolutely no effect because that same morning one of our party killed a 5x5 on that hillside less than a mile from camp. Smoke'em if you got'em!