How to Dress for Cold-Weather Bowhunting

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What Is Your Clothing Routine for the Late-Season?

How you dress is extremely important. (Brad Herndon photo)

Staying warm is a large part of successful whitetail hunting. Despite your thoughts on global warming, it still gets cold. When teeth chatter, you'll want to climb out of your stand and call it a day, wasting precious weekends and vacation time. When muscles quiver, you're not shooting to the best of your abilities.

In northern Idaho, I regularly sit on days with mid-20s temperatures and humidity in the neighborhood of 90 percent accompanied by 20 mph breezes. The worst I've endured was -12 with gusty winds. Deer moved like crazy, and I arrowed a nice recurve buck.

Here I'll offer my approach to staying warm on stand (with garments from my own closet); noting deer here are unusually jumpy due to heavy predation from wolves and cougars, in addition to relentless rifle-hunting pressure.

Forecast: 30-40 Degrees and Calm

Still days present the problem of deer being able to detect a hunter breathing too enthusiastically. Temperatures are cold, but wind isn't an issue, so I stick with stealthy woolen goods. Base layer: Wool-base layers. Mid-layer: Long underwear. Outer layer: Wool clothing. Feet: Wool socks (always), LaCrosse AeroHead boot. Accessories: Waist-mounted hand-muff, tight-fitting camouflage gloves (Under Armour Cold Gear Liner), and fleece beanie cap.

Forecast: 30-40 Degrees and Windy and/or Wet

Dealing with cold is a big part of bowhunting in late season. Dressing right allows you to stay in the game and perform at your best. (Patrick Meitin photo)The commotion of wind and dripping vegetation allows wearing slightly noisier synthetic garments with internal membranes to help shed water or turn away wind, while still allowing for undetected drawing of my bow. Base layer: Under Armour ColdGear base layers. Mid-layer: Heated vest. Outer: Fleece clothing. Feet: Same as above. Accessories: Same as above, substituting waterproof/breathable, ear-flap hat.

Forecast: 10-20 Degrees and Breezy

When it gets this cold, balancing comfort with the ability to shoot well becomes challenging. Smart layering and modern technology save the day. Base: Silk beneath heated fleece base layer. Mid: Long underwear. Outer: Fleece. Feet: Synthetic liner socks beneath heavy wool socks, LaCrosse boot. Accessories: Same but add hand-warmer to hand muff, include synthetic or wool balaclava beneath heavy-pile-lined, wind-blocking fleece hat.

Forecast: Below Zero with Blowing Snow

This is pure and simple survival. Base: Heated fleece base layer (turned on high, spare battery in daypack) beneath another layer. Mid: Fleece (one size bigger than actual size to avoid binding). Outer: Heavy coat and pants. Feet: Synthetic liner socks beneath LaCrosse heavyweight Socks, toe-warmers, and LaCrosse boots. Accessories: Muff holds large-sized hand warmer for each hand (spares in pack), same gloves (allowing unrestricted shooting), balaclava headpiece, neckwarmer, and pile-lined hat.

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Editor's Note: This was originally published on December 19, 2012.

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