September 24, 2007, - 5:15 pm

Attention, Hunters: Strange New Lawsuit of the Day – Smells Bad

By Debbie Schlussel
Since I’m not a hunter (my religion forbids hunting for sport and my religious dietary laws require food has to be slaughtered and killed in captivity, not by a bullet), I don’t know a lot about masking human scents from animals when you hunt. But I can smell sleazy class-action attorneys a mile away.
Some hunters are suing a sporting goods maker because they claim that hunting clothing purporting to mask the human scent didn’t work. Like I said, I don’t know anything about hunting, but it smells a little fishy to me, since the hunters are suing at least 23 different parties, including all of the major hunting equipment retailers (Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops).

scentlok.jpg

Scent-Lok Hunting Gear Under Fire . . . From Lawyers

With or without their vests, I can smell the scent of sleazy lawyers looking to make a class-action killing from hunting down big hunting industry companies with deep pockets whom they believe will settle to get rid of it:

Four Minnesota hunters are suing a Muskegon Township clothing manufacturer and the nation’s largest outdoors retailers, claiming that clothing they bought to mask the human scent doesn’t work, and that hunters have been defrauded for years.
The lawsuit was filed this month in federal court in Minneapolis against ALS Enterprises Inc. of Muskegon Township, which produces and licenses “Scent-Lok” clothing sold under that name and others. The lawsuit says the company is the largest maker of such clothing and licenses it to at least 22 others, including Gander Mountain Co., Cabela’s Inc., Bass Pro Shops Inc. and Browning Arms Co. — which are also named as defendants.
The lawsuit claims the five businesses conspired to deceive consumers and suppressed and concealed the truth. “Consumers have been duped into spending significant amounts of money on a product that does not work as represented,” it says.
The lawsuit was filed by Mike Buetow of Shakopee, Theodore Carlson of Edina, Gary Richardson Jr. of St. Paul and Joe Rohrbach of Shakopee. Attorneys are seeking class-action status, saying “tens of thousands” of Minnesota hunters have been deceived into buying millions of dollars of odor-eliminating clothing.
A spokesman for Gander Mountain declined to comment. Mike Andrews, vice president of marketing for ALS, said the lawsuit is without merit and the company would fight it.
“We’ve done years of research … we have hundreds of testimonials from consumers over the years,” he said. “We know it works. And we’re excited about the opportunity to prove to the world once and for all how effective our product is.”
He added that the company has a written guarantee that says hunters will experience “unalarmed wild animals downwind.”
“You don’t build this kind of business on something that’s not true,” Andrews told The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The products are tested by Intertek Testing Services in Cortland, N.Y., and ALS says the tests, and other studies, show the fabric works as claimed. ALS is a privately held company, and isn’t required to reveal sales figures.
Buetow, a bow hunter, said attorneys advised the plaintiffs not to talk about the case.
But the question of whether such clothing works has been the topic of Internet chat rooms for about a year.
ALS has created a new section on the company’s Web site to explain how its fabric hides human odors. . . .
ALS is a privately held company, and Andrews wouldn’t reveal sales figures, but some have estimated the activated carbon hunting clothing business may be worth $100 million annually, the Star Tribune reported.
Scent-Lok is a uniquely Muskegon product and local business success story. The company at 1731 Wierengo in Muskegon Township has been producing the activated charcoal hunting clothing since 1991. . . .
A Minnesotan — T.R. Michels, 57, of Burnsville, an outdoor writer, author, hunting guide and frequent hunting seminar speaker who has his own Website — acknowledges he is responsible for raising much of the stink about the products.

So, to those who read this site and hunt, what do you think? Does “Scent-Lok” clothing not work? It actually sounds to me like using it–if it does work–is cheating. Am I wrong?
What do you make of this seemingly undue litigation? I’ve written extensively about lawsuits like this. They end up getting certified as class actions and the only ones who make out in the end are the lawyers. The plaintiff “victims” get a coupon or a few scents on the dollar, the price of the product–in this case, Scent-Lok clothing–goes up for everyone.
And it’s a complete waste of time and legal system resources . . . for everyone except, again, the lawyers.

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9 Responses

Any “hunter” who needs another big advantage, over and above his store bought firepower, deserves to be defrauded. The more the better.

feralcat9 on September 24, 2007 at 9:38 pm

There cannot be any guarantee that such an item as Scent-Lok clothing will work. The wearer may simply have too strong a smell to be masked. What is being marketed is an aid, not a guaranteed 100% effective device. These lawyers should have to prove that it never ever works, not that it may fail in some instances. To be required to prove that it fails in all cases, and I mean in absolutely all cases, will be the end of this foolishness. Unfortunately, as Debbie has rightly seen, this is a lawyer out to make trouble for everyone else. We in the US have far too much of this, a result of having far too many lawyers. If you have not noticed, lawyers are essentially parasites; they live on the misery of others. They are never happy if others are happy (sorry about that, Debbie, but I think that is the truth; my sister is a lawyer too).

Dr. D on September 24, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Strict liability torts in product liability suits have just gotten way too out of control. They give standing to unaggrieved people, and are way too susceptible to milking by whores of class action attorneys. This area of the law needs tort reform.

JasonBourne81 on September 25, 2007 at 2:03 am

What’s next? Suits against sellers and growers of carrots and sugar beets, used as deer bait, if said bait fails to attrack sufficient unwary deer? Suits against norhtern BFE communities from keeping their garbage dumps and land fills too clean, thus inhibiting bear “hunting” by staking out the dump? Packagers of deer urine and anal gland scent (for applciaiton to hunting clothing, boots, etc.) if stalking said deer up wind doesn’t work? Hello?
How did Daniel Boone, Jedediah Smith, Hugh Glass, Jim Bridger, et al ad infinitum ever manage to survive? Feralcat9 has it dead on the money in his/her post. P.T. Barnum did too.
Hint to hunters who’d like to not reveal their scent to their prey….hunt, stalk, and use blinds d-o-w-n-w-i-n-d from the animal track you’re contemplating. It’s called ‘Hunting” not “fish in the barrel shoots.” Doesn’t hurt to skip the after shave in the morning either, or use neutral soaps when traveling the wilderness. No amount of masking can completely cover human scent. I have that on good authority, from some other humans who hunted me, and vice versa, many years ago….purportedly whitey smells like rotted onion, and my recall is that my fish sauce eating adversaries had a hint of fish and garlic about them. Of course, if some nimrod or trooper lights up a cigarette, well….all bets are off, right? Go figure.
I can only imagine the treasure trove of Torts possible in the fishing world if this spurious suit succeeds….have you ever checked out the varous lures out there…all guaranteed to catch the big’un?

Zoyadog on September 25, 2007 at 3:41 am

Any good hunter knows that part of the skill involves staying downwind of your quary. Special clothes smack of cheating to me.

Heretic on September 25, 2007 at 8:11 am

I have never heard of this clothing to mask the scent of the human. As someone pointed out if you chew, dip or smoke all bets are off.
Even Doe Urine can’t mask the smell of a cigarette. Haven’t these Hunters in Minnesota ever heard of a Tree-Stand. Game seldom look up they look 360 in the horizontal but not up.
This seems to be a case where someone has an axe to grind and they are going to take out on the clothing manufactureer.

mark on September 25, 2007 at 8:15 am

I am a devoted hutner who just this year bought the scentlok suit. I have two hunting buddies who have them and say they work…One of the ealrier comments is correct about the suits are a tool to help with hunting….I knwo the suits arent 100% going to protect me from giving my scent to the deer but it will help mask it…You must do other things to mask your scent…And no making your scent isnt cheating…any advantage to help you with hunting is fair game within REASON…goin out with a machine gun is considered unfair advantage…People shouldnt comment on things that know NOTHING about like hunting… Those hunters suing are a bunch of sissies and are probably a bunch of freakin liberals…Tehy shoudl stop hunting because they are embarrassing the rest of us hunters….
“I am not a hunter, I am a whitetail deer population reduction specialist!!!

freethinker on September 25, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I’m also against hunting for sports (it’s obvious though, we do need game for basic survival. When I went to a Tracker School, I was taught the matter of scent is personal responsibility. Rules are:
-bathing with unscented soaps.
- clean clothing
-no scents in deodorants or clothes.
-no colognes or smoking cigarettes.
- avoid eating strong type of foods the smell which will come out in the pores.
That sort of thing.
IF you are serious about obtaining food for survival.

allat on September 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Common sence seems to have prevailed in comments so far. So my curiosity lies in (and if the complaintents are legit and were not solicited by the laweyers themselves) what these folks who filed did for a living and life style. Recently I have been amused with a couple of white collar workers who rode mortorcycles (which is just fine) but they had two of them rep’n for USA Biker Nation whining on Air-America about this and that. Not to be sarcastic but perhaps this is also a case of the new american hunter who shed his suit for the weekend with naive zest for the rugged hunter image? Hello Debbie! I’m new but I visit your site on occasion. Agreeable views.

ArloRay on September 27, 2007 at 2:33 pm

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