12 Tips for Staying Warm While Deer Hunting
Deer hunting can be a lot of fun – as long as you stay warm. It’s hard to get a clear shot on a monster buck when you can’t hold the gun steady. And you can forget about using your bow when you’re suffocating under ten layers of clothing. There is a right way to dress for deer hunting. We’ve got 12 tips that will keep you warm while you’re waiting on Bambi.
Tip #1: Avoid Cotton Fabric
If you want to stay warm while you’re sitting in your stand, you need to know how to dress correctly. Avoid using cotton fabrics, as this type of material will absorb moisture. If you have an active walk to your stand, you might break out in a sweat. Cotton clothing will keep you feeling damp throughout your hunt, which will make you cold and miserable.
Tip #2: Know How to Layer
Having the right layer combination will keep you warm in the harshest temperatures. You should start with thermal undergarments, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants. This layer should be form-fitting so that you don’t sweat – which can make you cold and miserable. The rest of your layers – base, mid, and outer – should fit loosely.
Tip #3 Stay Dry – Starting With Your Base Layer
For your base layer, you want to select looser clothing that will absorb moisture and keep you dry. Some people like to use long johns made out of fleece or wool. Both of these materials have wicking capabilities. And they are thick enough to provide insulation to keep you warm.
Tip #4 Wait to Layer Up Until You Get to the Stand
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’re going to work up a sweat when you’re trying to hike to your stand while wearing a ton of clothes. You may end up shedding a few layers as soon as you sit down, only to replace them a few minutes later when your body returns to normal.
Instead of having the extra work, walk out to your stand wearing just three layers. Your thermal, and base layers, as well as your mid-layer, which can be some of your early season hunting gear. Save the rest of your clothes for when you’re ready to sit down.
Tip #5 Make Use of Your Early Season Gear
The third layer of your outfit, which can be your final one to apply before you began your hike to your stand, is typically going to be your camo layer. If you want to get your money’s worth out of your hunting gear, use some of your early year lightweight clothing. A long sleeve pullover or thin camo button-up shirt paired with a small pair of camo pants.
Tip #6 Invest in a Pair of Gloves
Your fingers are one of the main areas you want to keep warm during your hunt. A good pair of gloves will be waterproof and wind-resistant. They will also be insulated enough to keep your hands warm without being too bulky. You still want to be able to squeeze your fingers. But when it’s cold out, a pair of mittens might be warmer. To get the best of both worlds, go for a flip mitt.
Tip #7 Add a Hand Muff
Hand muffs are great to use for an extra layer of protection for your hands. Muffs rest around your waist, which also helps heat your core, and you place your hands at each end. Some options can double as extra storage where you can keep your grunt calls, cell phone, or other small items. And many hunters place chemical hand warmers inside too.
Tip #8 Use Heat Packs for Target Areas
There are four primary areas you want to focus on when you’re trying to stay warm:
Heat packs can help you regulate your internal temperature. Place smaller packages in your pockets or hand muffs to keep your fingers warm, as well as in your shoes to keep your feet toasty. Use larger packs around your stomach and back, on top of your mid-layer of clothing, to keep your core warm. If you don’t control your core temperature, you can deal with uncontrollable shakes.
Tip #9 Protect Your Feet
Once your feet get cold, you can expect to become miserable pretty quick. Layer your socks just like you layer your clothing. Your first pair should be a wicking material so that your feet don’t stay wet from sweating. If you want to use a heating pack, add it under this pair of socks. Your second layer of socks should be for insulation.
Tip #10 Wear the Right Boots
The boots you wear should be a bit loose so that you have enough room for multiple layers of socks. If your shoes get too tight, they can make your feet sweat. Trust me when I say no one wants to spend hours in a deer stand with wet feet. The blisters from your walk home will be painful reminders that you need waterproof, insulated boots that give your feet room to breathe.
Tip #11 Keep Your Head and Head Covered
Some people say you lose most of your body heat through your head, while others say this is an urban legend. What is indisputable is that if your head gets cold, it’s harder for the rest of your body to feel warm. Your first step should be a wicking material face mask. On top of this, you’ll want to wear another facemask for insulation. Topped by a stocking or insulated cap on your head.
Tip #12 Finish With Your Outer Layer
Your final layer of clothing should be a jacket and bibs. Bibs work the best for keeping your core warm, as they are seamless. And they provide the insulation you need to keep you warm from feet to shoulders, without being too bulky around the arms.
The material you pick for your upper body protection is essential when you’re hunting without shelter. Deer can hear the slightest rustle of polyester material. Instead, look for a jacket made of soft fabric like fleece.
Eat A Big Meal Before You Go Hunting
Before you hit the woods, eat a meal high in calories. Avoid simple sugars as this source of energy will burn off too quick. And take some snacks with you. Or better yet, pack a thermos of hot soup like chicken noodle or beef stew to feast on throughout your hunt.
Drinking something hot while you’re cold is a great way to warm up. Bring along a thermos of coffee, cocoa, tea, or any other hot beverage you prefer. And don’t forget your H2O. Dehydration can make you more vulnerable to lower temperatures.
Staying Warm Using a Hunting Shelter
There are a bunch of different ways you can hunt. Some people prefer to sit in an enclosed box stand, which has a roof, door, and windows to provide complete protection from the elements. Other hunters prefer to go old school and use a metal stand that they have to walk up a tree every time they want to hunt.
Each type of stand has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, a box stand does allow you to stay cocooned inside four thick, sturdy walls. And a lot of people use propane heaters to keep them warm while hunting. But you will have blind spots where you might not see a deer approaching. Or you can spot them but can’t line up a good shot due to the angle of the stand.
If you’re using a climber or an open bottom metal deer stand, here’s a helpful tip. Use a piece of outdoor carpet or cardboard to block the air from hitting your feet. You may not think air can make your feet cold while you’re wearing boots, but it can. Using a barrier like cardboard or AstroTurf can help keep you a lot warmer.
Always Have Extras Just in Case
I’ve mentioned this a few times, but the point is important enough that it warrants repeating. You do not want to try hunting in the winter while you are soaking wet. Not only will you be miserable, but you could be putting yourself at risk of getting sick. I ended up with pneumonia for three weeks after a disastrous coon hunting adventure.
You always want to have an extra pair of dry socks because you cannot have wet feet while hunting. It also never hurts to have an extra set of gloves. If you’re taking my advice, your pack may start pretty full but end up quite light after you’ve settled into your stand. Have a bag that is big enough for all of your gear, including food and water, a flashlight, a knife, a first aid kit, and extra ammo.
Staying Warm is Vital for a Good Hunt
If you want to be able to enjoy your hunt, you have to be comfortable. But let me tell you, from personal experience, it’s hard to be comfortable when you’re wet and cold. Instead of thinking about that big buck that you saw on your camera, you’re fantasizing about a hot shower and misty steam.
Once you start thinking about being warm over being in the stand, you can call it a day. Your hunting trip is over, and you won’t have any fun. It’s better to save it for another day than to sit there and be miserable – and potentially make yourself sick. Live to fight another day.