Hunting Cold Weather Bucks: How to Stay Warm During the Late Season
More times than not, the late season offers some of the best hunting opportunities of the year. Big bucks that survived both archery & rifle season are often forced into the open to feed midday and all you have to do is prepare, and be ready. However, it is not as easy to prepare when the temperatures have dropped into the sub-zero range. With the wind-chilling bones it is often hard to get yourself out there however, that is part of the fun in harvesting a winter whitetail.
As hunters, our desire for good hunting temperatures is strong, but our desire at HuntWise to harvest the a monster whitetail is stronger. With that said, we have crafted 10 simple tips that we believe help enhance those cold, and snow-filled hunts by keeping you warm and ready to pull the trigger.
10 Tips for Staying Warm During the Late Season
Utilize Tower Blinds – Although ladder stands are often a game changer during the regular archery season, tower blinds are crucial for those cold winter days. It is nice to have the ability to move ladder stands as needed and hunt several properties without investing in multiple stands, however, the ability to get out of the weather may be the only thing that keeps you on stand until your trophy arrives.
Cover Your Head, Neck & Face – The majority of body heat is lost through the head so protecting your cranium is vital. In addition, by protecting your neck & face, you will not only save additional heat, but your comfort level will increase while the chance for frost bite will decrease. Although a knit beanie and scarf will do the trick, I prefer a one piece balaclava mask.
Wear Good Footwear- The first step to protecting your feet is to cover them in quality. We all know that cold feet are not fun to mess with, and that is why season appropriate socks & boots are so important. Therefore, invest in some insulated and waterproof boots. Even if you do not plan on getting your feet wet, or the weather is looking cold not wet, it is much better to be prepared.
Buy Some Boot Covers – The second step to protecting your feet can be found in boot covers. We all know the one thing that will send us packing is cold feet. Therefore, after you invest in quality late season boots and top notch socks, buy some boot covers. They are both lightweight and easy to pack. This allows you to slip the covers on right over your boots once you are on stand and prepare for an all-day sit.
Always Have Rain Gear On Deck – Sticking a quality set of lightweight rain gear in your bag can be a day saver during the late season, especially when the wind picks up. Not only is rain gear waterproof but it also blocks the wind well. If you are concerned about noise, you can place the rain gear under a final outer layer.
Invest in Wool Clothing – Nothing beats real wool. Even with all the synthetic blends and light weight thermals available, few can match the natural insulating ability of wool, which is also waterproof. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer hunters are willing to put up with the lack of comfort 100% wool can present – which means it is harder and harder to find. The good news is that many manufacturers have recognized the benefits of wool and are now offering many blends that provide the protection without the itch.
Layers, Layers, Layers – No single layer, no matter what it is made of, is as effective as wearing multiple layers of the appropriate base, main, outer and over clothing. The greatest benefit to layering is its ability to trap air, which is then warmed and provides additional insulation.
Don’t Skip Breakfast – You may want to sit all day and think that skipping breakfast will help you catch an extra 15 winks, however, it can actually lead to a shorter trip during cold weather. Just like a furnace at home, you need fuel to heat your body. Therefore, take the extra 5 minutes or wake up a little bit early to provide yourself with the energy to keep yourself more awake, and warm. Eat well, get in the carbohydrates, and pack a hunt to refuel during the day. Nothing is worse than leaving mid-day because you are hungry and missing a trophy buck.
Pack Warm Liquids – When the layers, the carbs and the wind blocking blind aren’t cutting it, try a hot drink. Granted, don’t drink so much that you have to cut your hunt short due to a bathroom break, but try to raise your core temperature periodically throughout the day. Carrying a thermos of your favorite hot beverage can provide a little pick me up just as the afternoon lull threatens to force you back to the cabin. Whether that is coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, find your drink the will do the trick and ease your sit.
Avoid Sweating – Seems silly, right? Well, the reason is simple… Sweat equals moisture, and moisture freezes in cold temperatures. While your multiple layers, sub-zero boots and wool socks may appear to barely keep you functioning after a couple hours on stand, they will make you hotter than a steel mill furnace during your hike in. Once this happens not only will you be uncomfortably damp for the rest of the hunt but that dampness will quickly rob you of vital heat once you settle into your stand. As you hike in, consider removing your hat, opening your jacket and even removing a layer or two until you finish the hike.
As the late season makes way, and the cold weather sets in, keep your game face on. With these 10 tips and strategies, don’t let that cold keep you from taking a late season whitetail. Prepare for the weather, and you will be rewarded.
Good luck hunters, and shoot straight.