Don’t Freeze In The Late Season
By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED December 13th, 2022
Deer hunting and deer seasons have never been known for being consistent but there is one thing that I’ve realized stays pretty consistent year in and year out. The late season is cold, very cold. Yes we get cold spells in the middle of November but nothing bites like that post-Christmas north wind. I have many memories of sitting on an open face ladder stand in early January shivering to the bone, waiting for the minute I can climb out of the stand. It’s not fun hunting that way, but I’ve learned that freezing your butt off doesn’t have to be your reality.
There are things that you can do to help cut the chill. Granted, being some level of cold just comes with the territory of late season hunting. I get that, but why be colder than you have to be? And no I’m not just going to tell you to climb into an enclosed blind with a heater (although this isn’t a bad idea), I’m going to give you tips on how to stay just a little warmer this late season.
Layer Your Clothes Appropriately
All layers are not created equal and more layers used inappropriately will leave you colder than a few donned appropriately.
Start with a moisture wicking baselayer. This provides a great starting point for directly covering your skin and keeping you sweat free. Many of the best base layers are made of merino wool because of its amazing insulating and wicking properties.
Your mid layers are your insulating layers. Think of it as the fiberglass insulation between your drywall and your bricks. Materials such as down, thicker merino garments, and other mid-weight heat retainers should be used here. Avoid going too heavy in this layer to avoid sweating.
Finally your outer layer should be waterproof and wind blocking. If you don’t have a wind blocking layer, you’ll never be warm. It’s often not the air temperature that gets you, it’s the cut of the wind. It’s okay to go heavier here but might need to be donned later in the hunt or after arriving at your stand.
Avoid Sweat and Getting Wet
This is way harder than it sounds, especially if you use any mobile hunting tactics. Sweating before you get on the stand is detrimental to your ability to keep warm and must be avoided at all costs. I recommend leaving for the stand a little earlier and taking your time. This goes double for climbing or hanging a stand. Don’t rush this and avoid overworking yourself. Sweat can be avoided if you take your time. This might seem painstaking but trust me avoiding sweat is vital to staying warm.
Staying dry is an obvious must. This is especially true for your base and mid layers. It is expected that your outer layers will be exposed to some moisture but like I mentioned earlier, a solid waterproof garment will keep you dry. Water is a conduit for extreme chill, avoid it at all costs.
Don’t Compromise Your Hands or Feet
Your hands and feet often tend to be the body parts that get the coldest. There are a couple reasons for this. First they are insulated by very little skin tissue and are the farthest appendages from your core. This means that they have the most compromised circulation. Secondly they often have the least amount of clothing layers over them. Knowing this, it is important to make sure that your hands and feet stay warm.
Utilize high quality over garments like heavy gloves and insulated rubber boots. Over-the-boot stockings are becoming popular as well and also add another wind-blocking, insulating layer. Also don’t forget to pick up a couple packs of hot hands. These can be a life saver on those cold, late season hunts.
No Blind, No Problem
It would obviously be nice to have an insulated, enclosed blind to hunt the late season out of, but many of us don’t. This requires us to be a little creative with our setups and avoid the wind in other ways like utilizing topography or using the tree you are sitting in to block the wind. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you have to be cold on the inside. With proper use of the principles mentioned earlier and a little bit of toughness, you can conquer the late season.