There are two things you should expect from late season deer hunting, increased deer movement and harsh weather. And if there is anything I have learnt from my many years of hunting in below zero temperatures is preparedness is everything.
Also, the extremely cold weather that characterizes the late season can make even the best of hunters bail out on a hunt.
And since I do not want you to bail out on a hunt because of the weather, I have compiled a list of creative ways of staying warm in late season. The tricks and tips I have outlined below have been tested and proven.
Get good quality boots
The first parts of the body to feel the wrath of the cold weather are usually the feet. In this regard, your feet should be properly protected from the extreme cold. The best way to protect your feet is not to wear thick cotton socks but rather is to wear rubber boots.
Thick cotton socks might prevent adequate circulation of blood in your feet. Therefore, I strongly advise against wearing thick cotton socks as a way of insulating your feet from the cold.
Rubber boots are designed to survive any harsh weather that Mother Nature throws at you. Not only is rubber a water resistant material, but it is also tough and does not get damaged easily.
Therefore, the best rubber hunting boots will protect your feet from the cold. However, just because a boot is made of rubber does not mean it will help you keep warm.
Therefore, you should do your research before settling on a pair of rubber boots. Also, if you have the money you can invest in a rubber boot with a plug-in dryer. This kind of dryer will ensure the boots stay warm throughout.
Eat the right food
Unknown to many, the food you eat has a direct relation to how resilient your body is to cold weather. There are certain foods that can help keep your body warm during the cold months of a late hunting season. These foods are usually packed with nutrients and vitamins required by the body to stay warm.
For breakfast, my go to meal is oatmeal. According to nutritionists, oatmeal is an inexpensive meal packed with a ton of nutrients and minerals to help the body stay warm.
Additionally, oatmeal is rich in carbohydrates and as such breaks down slowly releasing energy to sustain your metabolism for longer.
For lunch, I have come to appreciate the much loved peanut butter sandwich. Similar to oatmeal, peanut butter and sandwiches are packed with complex carbohydrates and thus also breakdowns slowly.
For supper, I enjoy pasta, which is also loaded with carbohydrates and minerals. All these meals will help you stay warm. Bottom line, if you want to stay warm, I recommend taking foods that are rich in carbohydrates and proteins.
There are many fabrics used in the construction of gloves and it matters just as much as the insulation factor. Not only is it used to determine how waterproof your gloves are, but also how it fits in your pack. Here are some of the different types of materials that can be used in your gloves.
Used widely as insulation material in base layers and long underwear, merino wool provides a great way to minimize heat loss from your body in a cold wind chill. While it can be used as an exterior material it is more commonly used as an internal insulation.
Regular wool can be scratchy for some individuals but it is incredibly warm. You’ve probably heard of wool socks, jackets, and even a winter beanie, but you can also get wool gloves.
Wool is great in that it still keeps you warm even when it gets wet. It does take a little while to dry out, even using external heat like that of a fire.
GORE-TEX is a material that is both warm and breathable. It does not cause any itching and will not cause your hands to be hot and sweaty. It works well into the single digits with proper insulation.
Paired with a system of other gore-tex products like a parka or gaiters, and you’re sure to stay warm.
Protect your heads and hands
The common misconception that we lose up to 80% of body heat through the head is untrue according to doctors. So why should you ensure your head is protected from the cold. Well, it’s common science really. You see when you are fully clothed and have nothing covering your head, you will lose heat through the exposed part, i.e., the head.
The purpose of staying warm is to ensure zero or minimal heat is lost from the body. Therefore, if you cover the rest of your body and forget to cover your head, you are guaranteed to have a miserable hunting experience. Nevertheless, do not cover your head so much that it becomes hard to hear a deer approaching.
Fortunately, there are many clothing materials and electronic materials you can use to stay warm and maintain good hearing. One of the things you can use is are electronically amplified shooting muffs with padded ear-cups.
Personally, I use amplified shooting muffs. Not only do they help you keep warm, but they also help you hear better. A lightweight toboggan can be a great clothing material to ward off the cold. A turtleneck pullover will also help you keep warm.
In the same way, you lose heat through your head; you also lose heat through your hands. This is of course if your hands are exposed.
And considering you need your hands to fire your hunting crossbow, compound bow or gun, you will want your hands to be warm. Hunting gloves are great for keeping your hands warm when you are out hunting in below zero temperatures.
There are many types of gloves available to hunters. However, not all are designed to be used in extremely cold weather. In my experience, the best gloves for cold weather hunting have a particular set of features. For starters, these gloves come with layers of insulation.
The insulation can be in the form of Thinsulate platinum insulation or Geo-Tex shells.
When you are looking for gloves to buy, settle on ones that have these types of insulation. Needless to say, the thicker the insulation, the better. Nevertheless, do not emphasize on insulation and compromise on comfort.
That being said, the best glove should be well insulated and comfortable. In most cases, the trigger finger of a glove is made of neoprene, which is more maneuverable. Also, the gloves should be waterproof.
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The hunting gloves you pick should be comfortable. Personally, I recommend gloves with a GORE-TEX lining. Bottom line, the gloves you pick for a cold weather hunt should be comfortable and well insulated.
Be in top physical form
It might not seem obvious, but the physical form you are in will influence your body’s tolerance to cold weather. Additionally, since you will be carrying a considerable amount of gear and walking for long hours, you must be prepared. Regular exercising helps your body adapt to extreme weather.
Therefore, before the late season comes around make sure you are fit physically to face the extreme weather. Being in top physical form also helps avoid sweating as you navigate through the forest. Sweating is particularly dangerous in cold weather.
The reason being that sweating causes the body to cool down, which is what you will be trying to prevent. Furthermore, excessive sweating can cause hypothermia, which can render you incapable of going out to hunt.
Use a heater body suit
One of the best hunting appliances that I recommend to all winter hunters is the body heater suit. However, a word of caution, this is not the most conventional piece of hunting gear out there. In fact, some hunters dislike it. However, hate it or love it, there is no denying that the body heater suit works.
This is a suit that is made from a waterproof material and works by trapping your body heat within it. In essence, it prevents your body heat from escaping. This suit will keep you warm in the most extremes of conditions. In fact, it is gaining popularity among late season hunters.
Take advantage of a hunting blind
A treestand is good, but sometimes, the weather is so extreme that a treestand just will not do. It is times like this when a blind becomes a useful appliance. Used all over North America by hunters, blinds are a great option for when the wind decides to be nasty.
Additionally, you can keep a heater inside your blind. Therefore, when the weather is harsh go for a blind instead of a treestand. Because of the elevated nature of a treestand, it might be more unforgivable to use a tree stand on a cold and windy day.
Use a rug on your treestand
However, if the weather allows you to use a treestand, there is no reason why you should not use it. Nonetheless, you will have to make your treestand in a way that it keeps away the cold.
One of the things you will need to get for your treestand is a carpet or a rug to lie on. This carpet or rug will keep you from coming into contact with the treestand’s floor. The carpet will help you keep warm and especially your feet.
Building A Fire
This is the original and best way to stay warm while hunting. You could have all the warmest gear money can buy and still be cold. Using the resources that are already around you to build a warming fire is essential while hunting.
It’s important to keep a stash of firewood near your tree stand so that you can quickly get warm if you get wet out in the bush. If you don’t want any distractions near where you’re sitting then keep the wood further away. Having a proper fire kit handy is essential to get it started as well.
There’s a reason that survivalists tell you to exercise if you get cold at night in your tent. This involves going outside and doing some stretching or other cardio exercise.
This is because your body temperature lowers after sitting or lying still for too long. It’s why you cool down on a hot day if you just stop being active for a few minutes.
Be properly dressed
This might seem obvious, but the kind of attire you wear will have a big impact on how your body relates to the weather. Generally speaking, you should have at least three layers of clothing.
The first layer is the inner wear made up of maybe a vest and your underwear. This first layer of clothing should be made of clothing materials that retain heat and wick moisture.
For your legs, I recommend wearing polyester leggings with a scent blocking feature. These kinds of leggings will not only keep you warm but will also prevent sweating.
The second layer of clothing you need to put on is the middle layer made up of a shirt and pants. For purposes of retaining heat, go for clothes made of fleece or wool. Also, the shirt you settle on should be a long sleeved shirt.
A fleece lined hoodie or vest will be a great addition to your middle clothing layer. A pricier alternative to a basic wool vest are heated vests.
These types of vests use a battery to provide you with heat. To ensure the battery does not die quickly only use them when it is really necessary and important. Otherwise, invest in a quality wool or fleece vest that will not let any body heat escape.
The outer layer of your clothing is the one that protects your body from the extremities. Therefore, the outermost layer of your clothing should be waterproof. GORE-TEX or nylon are great materials for keeping you warm from harsh weather.
Here’s Ryan showing us what he wears when going hunting:
Drink hot beverages
Drinking hot beverages is the one thing we all know how to do during the cold season. Therefore, another way of keeping warm is to take a flask or thermos of hot water with you when you go hunting.
Drinking hot beverages regularly when you are hunting will help you keep warm from the inside out. It’s also a great way to get an easily accessible source of calories.
Use Hand Warmers To Stay Warm
Portable heat packs can be slipped into your gloves to provide hours of warmth. There are chemical hand warmers that react to oxygen to generate heat at a slow rate. They are essential for any winter kit for colder temps or nighttime sleeping.
Unorthodox ways of keeping warm
Reading some of the online reviews, I have discovered some rather unconditional methods of staying warm. Some of these methods might not be what you are used to, but they do work. Some hunters use disposable hand-warmers. Tucking them inside your inside pocket can help you keep warm.
A more unconventional method that I have come across is using baked foil wrapped potatoes. Some hunters tuck these potatoes inside their pockets. These potatoes will release heat and maintain your body warmth. Also, since they are foil wrapped once you are done, you can eat them further increasing your body heat.
What not to wear
While knowing what to wear is important, knowing what to not wear is equally important. There are certain types of clothing that you should never wear when going hunting, especially on an extremely cold day.
One of the things you should avoid wearing is a coat that makes noise when you move. Such a coat will alert your prey to your presence and even location.
Another thing you should not wear is anything that is tight. Therefore, avoid wearing tight clothing as they may restrict your blood flow, which will prevent certain parts of your body from being heated. Lastly, avoid wearing any clothing made of cotton.
Late season is a time when only the most confident hunters go out hunting. Fortunately, hunters who hunt in late season are well rewarded with huge crowds of whitetail deer. To join this league of fearless hunters, you will need to prepare yourself physically.
More importantly, you need to prepare yourself mentally to face the harsh weather that characterizes late season. Always remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in case yours get wet. Bottom line, some of these ways of staying warm will work for you.
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t like taking orders. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to a friggin’ war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.