In the late season, Minnesota may have sub-zero temperatures while we’re hunting in standing corn. I also hunt next to standing soybean fields. If our area has a warm front coming through that melts some of the snow, I’ll hunt over green food sources, like some of the Mossy Oak BioLogic plantings that are designed for winter hunting. I also like to hunt over brassicas and winter wheat that hasn’t been cut.
On December 14, 2016, the temperature here was minus-7 degrees at 9:00 am. If your skin is exposed to that kind of extremely cold weather when you go outside, your skin will freeze. I’m often asked, especially by people who live south of Chicago, “How do you stay warm in that type of weather?” I wear Mossy Oak Nomad Outdoor clothing that has a layering system, including a base layer (a type of wool), a second layer that usually includes a vest and then an outer layer. One of the advantages hunters have today is because of the new materials that clothing manufacturers have to work with, even in extreme weather, we don’t have to wear as much bulky clothing as before. The new cold-weather gear being produced is lighter, more comfortable and warmer than any clothing produced in the past for late-season hunting. We’ve also learned the importance of layering.
One of the big innovations that’s really helped late-season deer hunters is that we have better footwear available than ever previously. I like the LaCrosse Pac boots with at least 1,000 grams of insulation in them. To add more insulation and warmth, I wear a Boot Blanket when sitting on my stand, because the Boot Blanket keeps the boot warm and helps my feet be warmer. Nicole and I also use the disposable chemical hand, head and body warmers. I put hand warmers in my pants pockets, my jacket pockets, my hand muff and boots.
The secret to successful late-season deer hunting is dressing well and using numbers of handwarmers to stay comfortable, mobile and flexible for long periods of time in a tree stand. Since I hunt with a bow, I must be very conscious of keeping my muscles warm and flexible to make the shot, if and when a big buck deer comes in to where I’m waiting. But whether you’re hunting the late deer season with a bow or a rifle, in extreme weather, the number-one rule is to remain warm and comfortable, so you can hunt longer and make more effective shots.
You also must take good care of your equipment. I never allow my bow to touch the snow. I never use anything but dry lubricants on my bow in the late season, because lubricants can freeze, make noise and cause issues with your draw cycle. I’ve also learned when hunting from a tree stand that’s steel or aluminum that the metal quickly will get cold and transfer that cold into your body. I’ll take a felt blanket or some type of felt rug and dust the snow off the bottom of my tree stand. Then I’ll put the felt blanket on the bottom of my tree stand, and my feet will stay much warmer and are quieter when I have to stand or move, since a felt blanket will dampen any noise you may make when you move.
Tomorrow: Mistakes Afield Amplify in Cold Weather