By Mark Kenyon
Next to finding a good buck in the late season, nothing can be quite as challenging as staying warm and comfortable while hunting through the icy temperatures of December and January. That said, if you want that good buck – you really need to figure out the whole staying warm thing. A wise man once told me that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poorly prepared people. I think there’s a lot of truth to that and it really applies to hunting the late season. If you are properly prepared, you should be just fine hunting through this time of year – but that preparation is easier said than done. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you three quick and easy tricks for staying warm in the treestand. You obviously want to adhere to basic best practices of cold weather dressing, but these little tips can help make you just a little more comfortable in the tree. And sometimes, it’s just that little bit that can help get you that big buck!
Kangaroo Pocket or Hand Muff: Our hands are one of the most importnat yet vulnerable extremeties on our body when it comes to warmth. We need our hands for so much, yet they are so easily frozen. How many times have you been trying to do something in the tree with your gloves off, when your fingers go numb and you can’t easily manipulate them any more? This is not a good situation to be in. That said, one of the best ways I’ve found to keep my hands warm, yet still accessible is with a kangaroo pocket or hand muff. I have a “kangaroo pocket” on my Sitka Fanatic jacket that functions in the same way as a muff, and it is AWESOME. You can put both hands in there together, and having the ability to hold and massage your own cold hands is a great way to regain feeling in your digits. You can also place a disposable hand warmer in the pocket to create a nice little oven effect. Since I can basically keep my hands in there all the time, I don’t need to wear thick gloves. Rather I depend on the pocket for warmth, and can wear thin more tactile gloves that make tasks easier to accomplish. If your jacket doesn’t have a pocket like this, you can buy hand muffs at most sporting good stores and they accomplish the same thing. It’s a simple piece of gear, but man is it nice to have.
Duct Tape Hand Warmers: Speaking of hand warmers, when the temperature really starts to dip, I really depend on disposable hand warmers. The oxygen activated warmers are perfect for keeping more than just your hands warm too. What I like to do is duct tape a few activated warmers on to key parts of my body when the weather gets extreme. I tape the units to my lowest base layer and place them in key areas such as the back of my neck, my chest, and my stomach. With these little puppies kicking out extra heat on my core I can brave some seriously cold weather.
Snacks: This isn’t news to anyone, but high calorie snacks definitely will kick your body’s warmth up a notch! Make sure to pack some treats to help you out when the cold is getting to it’s worst. We all have experienced that moment when you just don’t think you can last much longer. Your toes are numb, your body is shaking, you pull your head and neck into your jacket like a turtle. It’s these miserable times when a snickers bar, a piece of jerky, or a handful of peanuts can make all the difference. Pack a few of your favorite snacks and make sure they are high in calories, as thats the energy that your body needs to fuel the furnace. Also keep in mind that these snacks should be easy to access. When you feel like Frosty the Snowman, the last thing you want to do is pull off your gloves and dig through your backpack for 5 minutes.
All that said. Dress wisely, but I’d also encourage you to try a few of these tricks next time you hit the woods when the mercury dips. No one kills big bucks on the couch, so bundle up, and get out there!