It was only a little over two months ago when I was sitting in a treestand and sweating as I waited on a Minnesota buck during the bow opener. This morning, my daughters waded through three inches of fresh snow on their way to the bus stop, and if the temperatures break above 25 degrees at all today it will be considered a win.
The late-season is upon us, and while it’s not the most comfortable time to hunt it is still worth the effort invested provided you can be comfortable enough to manage a few hours. If not, the late season is pure misery. If you really want to fill your remaining tags on a December survivor, you’ve got to stave off that misery any way you can.
Here are seven products that will help you ride out the Arctic-like conditions.
Blizzard Buddy Hunting Suit
There are quite a few sleeping-bag style hunting suits on the market, but Blizzard Buddy’s has become my go-to choice. This is because I primarily bowhunt, and their suit is designed to allow you to freely use your arms. It’s also warm, sleek and – as I recently found out – awesome for muzzleloader hunting as well. If you’re going to sit a treestand in the late season when the north wind is blowing and the temps are low, this is the way to do it. You’ll be shocked at how warm you can stay and how quietly and quickly you can get into shooting position when the moment arrives if you opt for one of these suits.
Kenetrek Hunting Socks
The general thought process with socks and super cold weather is to layer up and force your way into your boots. This, while well-intentioned, is wrong. Choose better socks – like the latest from Kenetrek – that don’t require you to lube up your feet just to get them in your boots. Kenetrek is well known for producing high-end boots, but their socks deserve attention as well. They are made with fine merino wool fibers and long-wearing synthetics for durability and insulation. They are made in the USA and are an overlooked but huge part of staying comfortable during December hunts.
LaCrosse Footwear Cold Snap
With 2000G of Thinsulate Ultra insulation, the Cold Snaps from LaCrosse Footwear are not the kind of boot you’d want to hike up an elk mountain while wearing, although you could considering they weigh only 4.3 pounds per pair. A better application for the Cold Snaps are those times when you’ve got a half-mile walk into a treestand in December and don’t want your little piggies to start screaming after 20 minutes of sitting. Cold Snaps are waterproof, feature the Dry-Core liner and are covered in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country.
onX Hunt App
I spent most of my whitetail time on public land this fall between five states. The level to which I relied on onX to navigate and find hunting spots is ridiculous. It honestly makes me wonder how I used to do it with paper maps and pages of printed-out aerial photography. The cool thing about this app besides its usefulness in so many different ways, is that the developers keep adding new layers and features. They’ve recently added Wind & Weather, and that means you can plan out your late-season hunts around fronts, wind direction and those times when the deer will be moving best.
Sitka Gear Fanatic Jacket
In mid-November, a buddy and I drove to Oklahoma to bowhunt public land whitetails. We knew some rough weather was coming but didn’t fully grasp that a severe blizzard was heading our way, and when it hit I realized how lucky I was because I had packed my Fanatic Jacket and Bibs from Sitka. I didn’t think I’d need them but stuffed them in my duffle anyway. Then I wore them, all week long. No set of camo has ever served me as well in brutal weather as the Fanatic top and bottom, and while they aren’t cheap, they are so worth it to ride out Mother Nature’s nastiness, or simply do a dark-to-dark rut sit when the temperatures barely touch double-digit readings.
ThermaSeat D-Wedge Series Supreme
Maybe I’m just getting old, but I lug one of these ThermaSeat cushions with me every time I’m going to sit on the ground in the late season. I also carry one into my treestands for most sits as well. This is an obvious luxury item if you’re not into having a sore butt or lower back, but the extra insulation between you and the seat or tree trunk is most welcome as well. The D-Wedge is super quiet, lightweight and built to last. It’s also the best cushion I’ve ever found for run-and-gun spring turkey hunts.
For every super cold sit I engage in, I have a pre-game ritual. It involves heating up water to the boiling point and filling up my YETI Rambler. Before I head out the door, I dump the water and re-fill it with coffee. This means that two hours into my hunt I have to gingerly sip the coffee because it will still be too hot to chug. It’s like a warm hug for your insides and can make brutally cold sits be so much more enjoyable. And I know you’re thinking the 18-ounce Rambler is probably like $125, but it’s not. It’s yours for $35 and is worth every penny. For all-day sits or extreme conditions, level up to the 36-ounce option.