By Alex Comstock
When it comes to late season hunting, there is usually one common theme that comes with increased deer movement - harsh weather. Extremely cold temperatures tend to get deer on their feet, but can make for brutal hunting conditions. If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's how to hunt in cold weather. I've hunted many times when the temperatures have reached all the way to the negatives, including some days when its pushed negative thirty degrees with the wind chill (i.e this past weekend). I'll be back out this weekend when the temps will again be brutally cold. Staying warm in weather like this is no easy task, but here are a few tricks I've picked up along the way that seem to help.
1. Hand Muff (Oven Style): I wear my hand muff all archery season. It serves as a pocket during the early season, and then during the middle half of the year, it allows me to wear thin gloves, and I keep my hands in the muff while on stand. When it gets to this time of the year, and it's as cold as it is, I like to think of it as an oven for my hands. By that, I mean stuffing it with disposable handwarmers. Instead of bringing only one or two, I'll toss 4-6 handwarmers in my muff before heading to the stand or blind, and by the time I'm set, it's nice and toasty, and my hands get to stay nice and warm until I've got to pull them out to make a shot.
2. Choppers: Trust me, I'm not crazy with this one. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to harvest a mature buck, and if you notice in the photos, my glove of choice is a pair of choppers. Not the ideal glove for a bowhunter right? But, I will not leave the truck without them for one reason. They save my hands/fingers during my walk in, and especially during the walk out. Or even in my case, during a recovery. Being able to have your fingers all together in the big mitt truly helps in keeping them warm, and then once I make it to the blind or stand, I will switch into my thinner gloves, and then get my hands tucked away in the hand muff pronto.
3. A Small Rug/Carpet: If you are anything like me, usually the first thing to get cold besides my hands, are my feet. Being able to get your feet off of the ground can greatly reduce how quick they freeze. A small rug, floor mat, piece of carpet, etc. to lay down on the base of your treestand, or on the ground in a blind to get your feet directly off of the ground can go a long ways in helping your feet stay warmer for a longer duration of time.
4. Heater Body Suit or something similar: Nowadays, there are multiple products on the market that are designed for hunters to use in frigid temperatures. Personally, I own a Heater Body Suit, and have for years. I don't bring it to the field with me often, but when I do it's usually a life saver. If I know I am going to be in the stand or blind for more than a couple of hours in deathly cold temperatures, the body suit will come with me. I pulled an all day sit one day in November last year, when we had a major cold front, and the high temperature was somewhere around ten degrees. It was during the middle of the rut, and I figured bucks would be on their feet most of the day. I was right, and had encounters with three different shooter bucks. Had it not been for the Heater Body Suit, there is no way I would have made it in the stand past lunchtime.
5. Utilize a Ground Blind: I'll be the first one to admit, I am not a huge fan of hunting out of ground blinds. For whatever reason, I always prefer to be in a treestand, but with that said, there are times that climbing into a stand just doesn't fit the bill. When it gets nasty out, change things up, and get in a blind. You will be out of the elements (most importantly wind), and if need be can even cheat a little by bringing a little heater (I will use a small Mr. Buddy heater when times get desperate).
Conclusion: Hunting in bitter cold temperatures isn't for everyone, but if you can pull it off, you have the potential to experience some of the best hunting of the year. With the temperatures set to be deep into the negatives once again this coming weekend, you can be sure to find me tucked away in a ground blind somewhere out of the wind, with a nice carpet laid on the ground, hiding in my Heater Body Suit... and I might even bring the heater with me. Doesn't sound so bad does it?
-If you've got any other tricks that help keep you warm, let us know in the comments section, or comment on the Facebook post for this particular blog post! I'd really enjoy some feedback, and added ideas!