Our coldest temperatures of the fall so far have arrived. With the pre-rut beginning and the full rut coming soon, many of us will be spending more time in the woods during the cold early mornings and late evenings. I recently wrote a two-part guide to staying warm in the Michigan woods while deer hunting. I wanted to share a few more cold-weather tips before I head out on my first-morning hunt of the season on Sunday morning. There are three things I always bring with me when the temperatures drop which greatly helps me stay comfortable.
- Extra Layers. Due to the heat generated when we are hiking through thick brush to our hunting spots, you don’t want to wear all of your layers while walking back. This can cause us to sweat and as we get wet it becomes more difficult for our clothing to keep us warm. Instead, dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer as you hike through the woods. In 30 degree temperatures, I will walk in wearing a lightweight base layer, a breathable pair of pants, and a light jacket. Once I reach my tree and get set up in my saddle, I then put on my heavy bibs and jacket.
- Chemical Warmers. I always carry a couple of packs of hand-warmers and a pack of toe warmers with me while hunting in cold weather. A good tip is to open the packages at home and place the warmers into an airtight Ziploc freezer bag. The factory packaging for the warmers can be very noisy. Also, storing them back in the Ziploc after using for 4 hours or less will give you another four hours of use with the warmers next time. I typically don’t activate them for a couple of hours, but after sitting still in a tree for a while, it can provide a much-needed boost of warmth. Hot Hands or Grabbers both work well. If you hunt in Michigan, buy a couple of the large packs—you’re going to need them.
- SOL Emergency Bivvy. This is a great product to pick up for about $15 and just throw in your pack near your first aid gear. Weighing only 3.8 ounces, it is an emergency mylar (reflective) bivvy blanket. In a cold-weather emergency, it can help stave off hypothermia while waiting for help to arrive and provides a good peace of mind to have with you.
As the cold fronts start to hit and we get closer to winter, the deer movement increases significantly. This is the best time to be hunting and my favorite time of year. Bring the necessary gear to keep yourself warm and comfortable so you can stay in the woods and get a chance at that mature buck you’ve been chasing.