Oct 8, 2010

Hunting, Part 4: Dress for Success

In Part 3, we talked about what gun to use.

Now it's time to get dressed. How you dress is going to depend not only on where you are hunting and the forecast, but the style of hunting you prefer.

Most of my hunting is done in November or December, in upstate New York, where highs average around 30-35F and lows in the single digits are not unheard of. It's quite possible to get up in the morning and head out in a hard frost or light snow at 20F, and by lunchtime be sitting in the sunshine and 45-50F.

Key word #1: Layers. Lots of light- and mid-weight layers insulate better than one big heavy jacket, as well as allowing easy adjustment to changing weather conditions.

Key word #2: Wool. I'll freely admit that there are lots of amazing synthetics out there now. In fact, I use them extensively. However, for durability, comfort, and insulation even when wet, wool is king. Avoid cotton at all costs. It doesn't wick, it doesn't breathe, and it doesn't insulate the instant it gets wet.

How many layers you need is up to you. If you're a still-hunter (stalking from tree to tree) or spot-stalk hunter, you'll be doing a lot of walking, and fewer layers are necessary. If you're hunting from a blind or stand, the cold seeps into your bones faster than you can imagine. I always go by the simple rule:

You can always take a layer off, but you can't put on what you don't have with you.

When I dress for an average day in the woods, my list looks something like this:
Poly-blend underwear
Underarmor Cold Gear leggings
Poly-blend longjohns
Lightweight wool leggings
Winter-weight BDU pants (treat the lower half with Camp-Dry to keep your legs dry)

Underarmor Cold Gear mock turtleneck
Heavy sweatshirt
Light flannel shirt (violating my own rule about cotton)
Some combination of a three-way coat
Orange "brush" camo vest

Underarmor hood
Fleece and/or wool watch cap
Glomitts (similar to these)

Poly sock liners
1-3 pairs of wool socks
LL Bean Maine Hunting Shoe

All of this can, of course, be adjusted to your own climate and preferences. If you're going to spend a long time in your stand, you might consider swapping the Bean boots for some kind of pac-boot (heavily insulated mickey-mouse boots - Danner Pronghorns or similar). If it's extra cold, I will cheerfully put on a set of insulated overalls on top of everything else. Chemical heat-packs are a staple, get purchased in ten-packs, and used liberally.

If rain is a part of your hunting weather, it's well worth investing in a good set of Goretex rain gear. Deer will move in almost any weather, and if you're out there when they are, you're the one filling your freezer.

What camo pattern do I use? Might as well throw a dart at a board. I have jungle camo, Mossy Oak, RealTree, and probably a few others that aren't officially named. It really doesn't matter what you use. Deer are colorblind; hence the reason we can (and should) wear safety orange without spooking them. The pattern you wear doesn't matter, so long as it's moderately irregular and breaks up your outline a bit.

Side note: If you're hunting truly cold weather, at some point you will end up looking like the Sta-Puft marshmallow man. Trust me: the deer don't care. The warmer you are, the more comfortable you are, and the longer you can spend in the field. The longer you're in the field, the better your chance of spotting and taking that monster buck you've been looking for.

1 comment:

Wally said...

No comments on this series yet ? Looking good from here, keep it going! I expect to be chasing some birds shortly.