How to Beat the Cold This Hunting Season
AllOutdoor Staff 12.16.19
It can get cold when you’re out hunting in the woods – very cold. And while you can still have a lot of fun tracking down deer and elk even when it’s below freezing out, you are at very real risk of developing hypothermia, which is life threatening.
You see, actually having a successful hunt should only be your second priority when hunting. Your first priority needs to be your own personal safety and survival, and that includes keeping yourself protected from the cold weather.
Here are the top tips that you can use to beat the cold this hunting season:
Dress in Layers
The best way to keep yourself protected from the cold is to dress in layers: the layer of clothing in direct contact with your skin, the insulation layer to keep you warm, and then the outer shell layer for resisting rain, snow, wind, and so on.
As you travel, you can add or take away layers as you see fit. Keep in mind that you will want to take away layers as you begin to get hot, because then you’ll sweat, and sweat can later freeze to your body when temperatures drop again.
Protect the Vulnerable Areas of Your Body
The areas of your body that are the most vulnerable to frostbite are the fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, and ears. That’s because these areas receive less blood circulation than the rest of the body, and on top of that they also are typically exposed to the cold.
Take decisive action to keep each of these areas of the body fully protected from the cold: wear wool cold weather socks, wool hunting gloves, and have a face mask ready to go to protect your face.
BONUS TIP: carry an extra pair of dry socks on you at all times. If your existing pair of socks get wet, you’ll need to swap out to dry socks in order to prevent trench foot.
Use Cardboard to Protect Your Feet
Cardboard can literally save your feet from frostbite. Simply take a thin sheet of cardboard and then place it into your hunting boots and underneath your feet. This will prevent the cold air from burrowing through your boot soles and getting to your feet. It may admittedly make walking a little bit uncomfortable, but that’s a small price to pay if it means keeping your feet warm.
Have Warm Water Ready to Go
If you do develop hypothermia or begin shivering, the easiest way to get warm will be to drink a warm beverage to heat you from the inside out. Have a metal canteen filled with water, a butane lighter, and Vaseline soaked in cotton balls on your person when you hunt so you can get a fire started quickly.
This way, you can then warm the water in the canteen over a small fire within a matter of minutes. Be sure to drink the water in small sips rather than all at once; it will be more effective at warming you in this manner.
Carry a Poncho
Even if the weather is not particularly freezing outside, you can still develop hypothermia. For example, if the air is chilly (say at around fifty degrees Fahrenheit or so) and it rains and you get all soaked, your body temperature will lower dramatically (not to mention that it’s very unpleasant to walk around in the woods while soaked). For this reason, always carry a poncho when hunting, and drape it over you as soon as it begins raining.
Keep Your Body Fueled
Your body produces heat from the energy it receives from the food you eat. In other words, your body temperature warms up after you consume a meal. Carry portable foods while you hunt, such has beef jerky, energy bars, and candy, and then eat small amounts of it consistently throughout the day while hiking around out in the woods. This will help to regulate your body’s temperature to a warmer level.
Remember that sweat can cause your body temperatures to drop if it freezes to your body. Well, what’s one of the easiest ways to sweat? That’s right: carrying lots of equipment on you at once.
You do need to make sure that you have everything on you that you’ve covered in this article, but you also will want to pack as lightly as possible to take the weight off of you. It simply isn’t necessary (or very much fun) to carry a sixty pound pack on you while out in the woods (remember that you have to haul your game out too if you’re successful).
Even when temperatures fall to below freezing, you can still have a fun (and successful) hunt. Just take the above precautions into account to prevent yourself from falling victim to hypothermia and frostbite, and you’ll be good to go. If you do begin to get cold and are having difficulty warming up, there’s no shame in calling off the hunt earlier and working your back to your camp or vehicle where you can get warm.