Didn’t hit your tags quite yet? To bag those late season bucks, you might be facing down some long hours in bitter cold weather. In order to take your shot, you need to be warm and comfortable in your stand or blind.
Dress or pack in strategic layers and pay special attention to staying dry to avoid the shivers, shakes and chatters affecting your aim. Following this short list of do’s and don’ts will help you tough it out when temperatures fall.
Sweating makes us colder and can advance the onset of hypothermia. Wearing too many layers during your hike in might make you sweat more than when you are just waiting in your blind or stand. Take the layers with you in a pack so you can add once you get there.
Wear the right materials
Your base layer needs to be made of moisture-wicking fabric. Still called thermals, these new base layers aren’t the red one-piece long johns with a rear flap of days past. Today’s thermals or performance underwear are constructed of fancy materials that not only retain heat, but wick away moisture. Under Armor makes camo, scent-blocking leggings from polyester and elastane. If you are looking for something a bit cheaper, your local outdoor outfitter should have generic brands. Look for polypropylene, Thermax, Thinsulate or polyester.
The middle layer is your shirt and pants. One material is not necessarily warmer than the other is, but its ability to retain heat is the key. Look for fleece and wool when shopping for your middle layer. Browning’s Wastach long sleeve cotton/poly blend shirt will work, especially when you double up with a coat or jacket. When walking to your blind, make sure you wear safety orange as per your state’s law. Forego the plastic orange vest during winter, and wear a fleece-lined hoodie vest instead.
Remember that the key to staying warm is also to stay dry. Your outer layer needs to be waterproof. GoreTex and nylon are excellent materials that protect from wind, rain, snow, and sleet.
Cover your extremities
We lose most of our heat through our head and core. Our hands and feet are also extremely vulnerable to extreme cold—we especially need to protect that trigger finger! Chemical hand warmers stuck in the pocket of your coat keeps your hands nice and toasty. If you need to wear gloves, pick ones made of GoreTex or Thinsulate. Hunter’s Specialties jersey gloves are insulating, but lightweight and will not retain moisture. After you have walked in from your hike, cover your head with a balaclava. Made of Vapor Max fabric, it not only insulates very well, but it dries and evaporates moisture quickly.
Take hot liquids
Take a thermos of hot beverage or soup to sip throughout the day. They will warm you from the inside out. I prefer the Stanley family of products, which really do keep hot coffee hot all day.
Sit in the sun
Place your tree stand where the afternoon sun will be facing you.
Wear waterproof boots
Double up your socks with weatherproof boots. Look for sock liners as your first layer and wear wool socks over them. Search for polypropylene or Thermax sock liners. These will keep your toes and feet dry. After you get into your stand or blind, loosen up your bootlaces to encourage circulation. This will keep your feet warmer. A good value boot with plenty of desirable features is Bushnell’s Mountaineer. Made with Thinsulate and scent control, they have extra space for a chemical foot warmer.
Shield yourself from the wind
Cover your tree stand with a tree stand-specific blind. This will help on particularly windy days.
Put an indoor-rated propane heater inside your blind.
- Wear noisy coats
- Wear anything too tight that constricts blood flow
- Wear cotton
How do you stay warm on late season hunts? Share your tips in the comment section. Tomorrow’s tip reminds us all to spread holiday cheer and check up on others.