If you’ve ever hunted during the winter, then you know exactly just how cold it can actually get. Freezing temperatures, high winds, and ridiculous amounts of snow can all call for an unbearable bowhunting trip but don’t fret, there are remedies and gear you can bring along that will make your hunt a lot easier.
If you haven’t ever hunted in cold weather and have just happened to stumble across this article, then you, my friend, are in luck. I didn’t know or have a lot of these handy little tips and methods of staying warm when first starting off into my bowhunting journey, so unfortunately for me, I had to learn the hard way.
That is okay, though, because now I’m able to use my past misfortune to help others stay warm during the colder seasons so that they don’t end up having to pack up early due to being too overly cold like I did.
I know there are some hunter’s that like to believe they’re too tough to be affected by the effects of the rigid and cold weather conditions, but with enough time out in the field, even they can find it hard to cope with the circumstances. So, instead of trying to brave your way through the freezing temperatures, get prepared now so that you don’t become a victim of the brutal conditions that lie ahead of you.
With that being said, here are 14 ways that you can stay warm and comfortable during colder weather conditions.
1) Eat A Hearty Breakfast
For me, this is a win-win. What better way to get the blood pumping and organs moving than to eat a nice, tasty meal for breakfast right before a hunt? I honestly cannot think of a better way. If you really want to warm up right before heading out to the field than eating a fatty breakfast can very well help with that.
My foods of choice when eating before a hunt is bacon, eggs, toast, and a cup of coffee. Not only is this flat out tasty, but is also good at making the body work. Bacon, for example, is very fat-heavy and will help warm you up a lot quicker compared to other foods because of the time it takes to process.
In fact, anything that is heavy in fat and calories is recommended before a hunt, but if possible, keep it to a minimum. Too much fat can make you sluggish and may be too hard on your body if you’re not being active enough to work it off.
Eating to stay warm can be effective when trying to heat up before a hunt, but that doesn’t mean that should load up on a whole pack of bacon beforehand.
2) Setting Up Your Stand
I know this is before getting into the stand, but this process can help warm you up so that you have a little body heat generated when you do get into it. You are going to be getting prepared to sit in one place for a potentially long time, so having that extra bit of heat to comfortably get situated after climbing up to your stand can help out a lot.
Simply setting up your stand will not be enough to keep you warm your entire trip, but it can buy you a little time so that you can do what needs to be done before you start to play the sitting game. This will likely be your second step after eating breakfast and driving to the field, so just consider this to be the warm-up step.
I realize that setting up your treestand with cold hands can be a little discomforting, but once you get moving, you’ll be happy you did.
3) Bundle Up
Before going to hunt in frigid temperatures, you’ll definitely want to stay covered up with as thick of clothes as you can get away with comfortably. This is a more obvious line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself from the blistering winds, but for some hunters, it isn’t.
Reason being is because some make the mistake of wearing clothes that are way too light or thin for the weather that they are about to be faced with. This may sound crazy, but I have known people to go hunting in very cold temperatures in just a thick coat, jeans with shorts under, and then a plain t-shirt underneath that same coat. Obviously, this will want to be avoided.
If you want to be able to stand up to the harsh winter weather or any cold weather for that matter, you’ll want to pack clothing that is thick, but thin, such as a wool sweater, and heavily insulated jeans to keep cold air out.
4) Foot Coverage
For many hunters, once the feet get cold, it’s game over. Hunting with cold feet is by far one of the most difficult things to deal with and should be taken care of way in advance before heading out for your trip. Cold hands, ears, face, and core are a little more tolerable, but when it comes to the feet, it is a wrap.
Hunting boots can be costly, but let me tell you, it is worth every penny. Back in the day, I used to skimp out and buy boots that were cheap, poorly made, and not designed for hunting because I thought I was tough enough to get through the hunt. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as my feet got cold the first time using those boots, I had to pack up.
If you want to get through your bowhunting trip a lot more smoothly, then you will want to invest in a decent pair of boots. This will ensure warm feet and will help with hunting game a lot easier.
5) Trap Body Heat
You may or may not know this, but most of your body’s heat actually comes out from the top of your head. If you’ve ever been outside on a chilly day without a hat on then you know how cold your head can get when the wind is hitting it. If you know what I mean, then imagine experiencing that feeling times 10.
For most hunters who hunt without any headgear, this is what it’s like, so to avoid going through this, you’ll want to wrap your head up with a thick hat before you head out. If you’re someone with thick hair, then great, even better. The more hair you have, the warmer your head will likely be.
Just like your hunting shirt, you’ll want to go with something wool, preferably a beanie. This will keep you cozy and help retain much-needed body heat a lot longer. Besides, wearing a good beanie while bowhunting regardless of if you lose heat through your head or not would be a good idea for staying warm overall anyways.
6) Block Out Air
If you already own a treestand, then it’s likely that you have one with a footpad that has holes in it. This usually isn’t a problem but in the winter, this can be enough to pack up your supplies and call it a day.
Yes, having a good pair of boots will help out a ton with keeping your feet nice and toasty while you are in your tree stand, but if you’re sitting or standing on a platform in which air can easily pass through then this can make your feet get colder a lot sooner.
If possible, bring along a tree stand that has a covered footpad. This will block out of a lot of cold air coming up from the bottom and prevent your feet from freezing. If getting another pad is not an option, then make your own at home by using an old piece of carpet or cardboard. If these are not available, then using pretty much anything else that will cover your pad and block out air will do.
7) Hand Warmers
Instead of being called hand warmers, they should be called lifesavers. Hands are an extremity like feet and ears, so over time, they will get very, very cold when out in the cold weather for too long. If you want to fix this problem, then bringing along some hand warming packs can save your hands from freezing in place.
Temperatures can get pretty low when you’re out in the field, so it is best to either bring a bulk pack of hand warmers, preferably HotHands, or a rechargeable hand warmer that will be able to last you for a longer period of time.
My primary means of warming my hands up is to use my rechargeable warming pack, but I do have a bulk pack of disposable hand warming packs in my bag that I keep on hand just in case I ever need them. Whatever you decide to go with, though, will be fine. Disposable hand warming packs can last up to 10 hours and can be less of a hassle to deal with as far as remembering to charge goes.
8) Thin, But Effective
Hand warming packs will help keep hands toasty when needed, but for all the times when you’re hands aren’t buried in your pockets, you’ll need some good gloves. It might be a natural instinct to want to bring along a thick and heavy pair of winter gloves, but this can cause more trouble than needed to bowhunt.
The reason for this is because when you’re operating your bow, you need to be able to draw and shoot comfortably without anything getting in the way. Thick gloves are great at keeping the hands warm, but it can be a real pain to deal with when you are shooting your bow.
They can cause picking up your bow difficult and drawing even harder and can cause you to lose good game if it hinders your ability to shoot properly. Instead of investing in thick and bulky gloves, pick up a thin pair that is designed to block out the wind. These kinds of gloves can typically be found at a hunting store near you or online.
9) Keeping Sweat Levels Down
While in the tree stand, you won’t be doing a lot of moving. But, with clothes being thick and adrenaline pumping from the thrill of being on the hunt, you can work up a sweat. This would serve you well if you were hunting in the summer seasons, but in winter, this can make high, harsh winds even more violent.
If you find yourself sweating some time into your trip, then make sure you calm down, let your adrenaline go down, and keep movement in the tree stand to a minimum. Bowhunting is an exciting sport, but, unfortunately, this same excitement can cause us to have a sour bowhunting trip.
If possible, refrain from climbing your tree stand, traveling outside your tree stand, and moving within your tree stand as much as possible. Sweating seems like the most unthreatening way of becoming colder in the winter, but it can be a real pain to deal with when it happens.
10) Body Suit
Probably the most effective way of staying warm on the list, the body suit. If you really want to get the most out of your trip and want to be almost completely unaffected from the harsh winter weather, then getting a body suit will probably be your best bet.
These things provide so much insulation and protection that you could almost go bowhunting nude while wearing one (not really). I must admit, they do cost a pretty penny, but after purchasing and using one you will wonder why you hadn’t gotten one a lot sooner.
All of these are amazing tips to follow in order to keep warm, but if you want to step it up a bit and go all out, then getting a body suit is definitely the path you want to go down. These will without a doubt provide hours upon hours of comfort while you hunt and will exceed all expectations you ever had before getting one for yourself.
11) Short Exercises
As we now know, sweating is not something that you want to be doing while bowhunting, but if you’re really cold, then a few short and small exercises can be just enough to get you back in the game.
In order to warm up, we need to get the blood pumping, and what better way to do this than by performing a few basic movements. I’m sure there are more out there that are just as effective, but sometimes if I’m too cold I’ll climb down from my tree stand and do a couple stretches or even a couple jumping jacks. I’ll usually do just enough to generate some heat and then I’ll stop before I feel like I’m going to break a sweat.
When performing these exercises, make sure to always climb down to a safe surface before doing so. Doing any type of exercises within the tree stand can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
12) Bring Spicy Snacks
Just like eating a hearty breakfast, eating snacks can keep the body’s system moving a bit. The only difference is that it probably won’t be enough to really warm you up due to the fact that it will likely be too small of a portion to make any noticeable changes. There is one thing we can do to help eating snacks more effective, though, and that’s to eat them spicy.
If you can get your hands on hot peanuts, spicy potato chips, or chili powdered candy, then you have just what you need for your trip. Eating too many spicy foods can actually have an opposite effect of cooling you down by telling the body to produce more sweat, but if you keep consumption down to a small amount at a time, you should be alright.
13) Avoid Wet Clothes
Hunting in the snow can present its own set of problems and one of these problems is causing clothes to get wet. Most people, whether they’ve bowhunted or not, know what it feels like to be in a situation where they’ve gotten clothes wet due to melted snow, and it’s not pleasant.
Dealing with snow alone is already bad enough, let alone when it melts on your clothes, and especially when you’re bowhunting. If you are hunting and you have wet clothes, then any cold air you felt prior to that will be amplified and can actually cause physical harm if not taken care of.
Temperatures can drop down into the negatives while out in the field, so if your clothes get wet due to the snow, then change into a backup pair of clothing or end the hunt altogether. Wet clothes mixed with high, freezing winds can cause frostbite and should be taken seriously if it ever were to happen.
Wet clothes can present more of an issue than one might think and should be handled immediately after happening.
14) Tree Stand Cover
If you want to protect yourself from the wind, then a tree stand cover can be absolutely great for this. It will not only provide you with cover from Mother Nature but will give keep you more disguised from wild game so that you won’t be spotted as easily.
If you want to get the most out of your experience in a tree stand in the winter, then a cover is something you’ll definitely want to look into.
Winter weather can be unforgiving and will show absolutely no mercy to any hunter, experienced or not, and should be handled in the right way before and during a hunt. Hunting from a tree stand in such conditions can be very difficult if not prepared and can even be physically dangerous if not cautious.
There are many things that can be done while bowhunting to try and stay warm, so take full advantage of them so that you’re not stuck in a chilling situation while in your stand.