put off the scent
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Related to put off the scent: throw off the scent
put (one) off the scent
1. To cause an animal, especially a dog, to lose the scent of someone or some other animal, as by distracting it with other odors. I've heard that you can put dogs off the scent by crossing back and forth through a river. The hunter covered himself in elk urine to put his prey off the scent.
2. By extension, to misdirect one away from their pursuit; to steer one's investigation or suspicions in the wrong direction. The mafia accountant managed to put the authorities off the scent of the mob's money laundering for years, but they finally caught up with him after an anonymous source tipped them off. That outlier data put me off the scent for a while, but I think my research is back on track now.
put someone off the scent
Fig. to distract someone or a group from following a scent or trail. (From put a dog off the scent; the scent or trail can be purely figurative. (See also put someone off the track.) The clever maneuvers of the bandits put the sheriffs posse off the scent. The mob laundered the drug money to try to put investigators off the trail.
put/throw somebody off the ˈscentgive somebody false information to prevent them from finding out or knowing something: I threw the police off the scent by pretending I was in Mexico City on the day of the crime.
Animals such as dogs follow the scent (= smell) of other animals, especially when hunting.