Hunting whitetails is supposed to be an enjoyable experience whether you are lucky enough to kill a deer or not. However, that is not always the case. Especially when hunters do not dress properly for the weather. To help ensure late season success it all begins with comfort.
The biggest mistake most hunters make when dressing for warmth is putting on their base layer. Going to the woods without a good base layer is like building a house on a weak foundation. It will not last long. If your dresser is full of cotton long johns I would suggest putting them in storage.
The only way to stay warm while on stand is by dressing in layers. A good base layer will wick moisture away from the skin to the outer layer. Find a moisture wicking fabric constructed from manmade fibers. Another good option is clothing made from silk or wool. Cotton will keep water (sweat) close to your skin and cause your core temperature to drop.
The next layer in dressing for cold weather is the insulating layer. Wool and fleece will insulate even while wet, making them both good choices. Synthetic fleece is lightweight and fast drying. Wool does not dry fast, but it is quiet and durable. For best results us an insulation layer that contains Thinsulate or polyester. In extremely cold weather you might want to wear a garment made of down.
The outer layer will round out your hunting apparel. This layer has to be quiet in case you rub against a tree, roomy enough to let you pull your bow back and climb a tree with ease. Also, it needs to be windproof. An outer layer that fits too tight on the body will not provide enough room for the insulation layer to stop air flow across the body. The only layer that should fit tight is the compression type base layer. The outer layer I use is an insulated jacket and insulated bibs. The bibs keep cold air from flowing up my back which seemed to happen often when I wore pants as a layer.
A quiet base layer is the key. Many layers might not realize how noisy their clothing is until they are in a tree stand on a cold day. Clothing might seem to be quiet in warm conditions, only to be as noisy as a freight train when the weather turns cold. Before wearing your outer layer to the woods place it a freezer overnight. Test the article of clothing by rubbing it together. If it is too loud do not wear it to the woods. Nylon clothing and clothing containing waterproof materials are likely to be very noisy.
My ears seem to be one of the first things on my body to turn cold. However, I do not wear a hooded jacket. I have found that the hood obstructs my vision, and frankly, I cannot find one that is comfortable or warm enough for my likings. Normal days will find me wearing an old-fashioned stocking cap. On extremely cold days I will wear a fleece balaclava that offers full protection. Including protection from the cold nose, ears, chin and neck.
My hands are another part of my body needs special attention when cold temperatures are a concern. If your hands have ever been so cold they hurt, you know how important it is to have quality protection. In most circumstances a pair of Glo-mitts and a hand warmer is enough. For those of you that are not familiar with Glo-mitts they are awesome. They are nothing more than a half-finger glove with pull over mittens. Combine a hand warmer with the warmth of the mittens and your hands should stay nice and toasty. When I am ready to shoot I flip the mitten part back which will allow me to feel the trigger on my release.
My outer layer has several pockets. These pockets are filled with spare hand warmers that I can easily get to. I also keep two activated hand warmers in either pocket of my jacket. On extremely cold days this is where my hands and fingerless gloves stay until I am ready to shoot.
Last, but certainly not least is the feet. The feet start with a base layer or liner. A good sock liner will wick moisture away from the foot. Just like the base layer of clothing will keep your body dry a sock liner will keep your feet dry providing greater warmth. The second layer of socks also needs to have the ability to wick moisture away from the feet, as well as insulate. Many good sporting goods stores carry a wide a variety of socks.
When I purchase a new pair of boots I focus on three things. Comfort, waterproof and warmth. No matter how much your socks will wick away moisture caused by sweat there is nothing they can do that will help keep water out when you step in a creek.
Never purchase a pair of boots unless they are waterproof. What I look for is a pair of boots that is waterproof and will keep my feet warm. Recently I have been wearing Irish Setter’s Ravine hunting boots. They offer a lot in the line of comfort and scent control. With their Primaloft insulation my feet stay warm.
Be careful and do not wear a boot that is not right for the weather. Wearing a boot that provides too much insulation might cause your feet to sweat. On the other hand, if you do not wear a boot with enough insulation your feet will get cold. Have more than one pair of boots and let the weather dictate which pair you choose.
It does not matter how good your stand position is, how many deer are in the area, or how good of a shot you are. If you are not dressed properly for the weather conditions that await you it will be hard for you to stay on stand for any length of time. Even if you are able to stay on stand will you be able to sit still long enough so that you do not scare off the animals in your area? Take the time, and spend the extra money to get the right clothing for your needs. Consider it an investment. Good clothing will last for many seasons with proper care and will help you fill your tags for many seasons.