While temperatures may be freezing outside, winter makes a great time of the year for deer hunting. Not only does the winter snow help you track animals easily, but it allows for the easy dragging of larger games. You can also spot game from further away due to the lack of foliage in wintertime, and there are usually no biting insects to distract you while hunting. Despite the cold temperatures, you can enjoy picturesque views of mountains and woods covered by a beautiful blanket of snow.
Despite the numerous advantages, winter hunting has its fair share of challenges. One of the main challenges, even for the most dedicated hunter, is staying outside in the freezing temperatures and the harsh elements. Besides stocking up on the best Rimfire ammo, you need to be prepared with the right hunting gear before heading out in the frigid temperatures.
Fortunately, there are many effective layering systems for hunters that can keep you warm and comfortable while hunting in the chill of winter. Layering your cold-weather hunting gear is especially crucial for whitetail hunts since you may spend hours on end standing, producing little to no excess heat. Here are a few gear tips to keep you warm and make your winter deer hunting an enjoyable experience:
1. Insulate your Tree Stand Platform
One of the greatest challenges to keeping warm in the field is staying dry. Your body is likely to lose more heat when you’re wet. You also lose a lot of heat when in direct contact with a cold surface through thermal conductivity. Hence, standing on a tree stand for hours on end can lead to losing a lot of heat from your feet through conductive heat transfer, making your feet and whole body painfully cold.
To prevent excessive heat loss while standing on a tree stand, carry pull-over boot covers or insulating material to put on the metal treestand. This will ensure your feet don’t come into direct contact with the frigid metal platform, helping you retain body heat.
2. Boot and Hand Warmers
Your feet and hands are the most challenging to keep warm while hunting in the winter. When your hands and feet are exposed to cold temperatures, blood flow reduces, leaving your toes and fingers prone to frostbite. This can make it difficult to make a good shot or even sit or stand for long hours, cutting your hunt short.
One of the best ways to mitigate this problem is to wear high-quality waterproof boots. The boots should have an appropriate level of insulation for the current temperature ranges and your type of hunting to keep your feet warm and comfortable during your hunt. Your hunting boots should also have a firm sole with good tread and the right toe box size for a snug fit, even when wearing extra-thick socks. This will make it easier when trudging through snow and keep your feet warm and toasty all day.
Instead of layering gloves, get a set of mittens to keep your hands warm, allowing for a much more enjoyable experience. Besides keeping your hands warm, mittens provide adequate dexterity to use your binoculars or spotting scope and when you need fast access to your trigger finger. A rechargeable hand warmer can also be a lifesaver when hunting in the winter. Keeping your hands and feet warm also improves your blood circulation, keeping your body warmer.
3. Wear the Right Clothing
Apart from keeping your feet and hands warm, it’s critically important to keep your core warm by maintaining a stable body temperature. You can achieve that by wearing layers of warm clothing. However, wearing clothes made of slow-drying fabrics and with poor breathability can be disastrous due to sweating when walking to the tree stand.
Ensure your layering system includes moisture-wicking materials and wind-blocking garments to keep your body temperature stable in your core without getting soaked up. Alternatively, you can wear fewer outer layers and only wool base layers, especially if you’re going to commute to the stand. If the temperatures get extremely low, consider adding heat packs in your jacket or vest’s beltline area to keep your core toasty and warm all day long. Be sure to also wear a scarf or hat to keep your head warm. Choose a hat made of fleece or wool materials for their excellent heat retention properties.
Choosing the right socks is just as crucial as picking the right boots for winter hunts. It’s even more important if you struggle with wet feet. To keep your feet dry and warm during your cold weather hunts, wear a liner base sock for improved breathability and put on a warmer outer sock. Wool socks may provide the right insulation to keep your feet and toes warm, depending on the current temperature.
4. Carry a Firestarter
Another essential item in your winter hunting gear is a fire-starting kit. With a firestarter, you’ll quickly build a fire without getting your gloves off. Building a fire quickly can help you raise your body temperature in case you accidentally fall in a creek or get extremely cold and cannot move, preventing the risk of hypothermia. A firestarter can also be useful for acquiring water by melting snow. This helps keep you hydrated during your hunts.
Now that you know what gear you need when going on a cold-weather deer hunt, using the tips above will ensure you stay warm and comfortable in the frigid weather conditions. Also, ensure that you have a well-thought-out emergency plan and have the right mindset when heading out in the mountains to ensure your success.