Stop freezing in the stand! It’s a real bummer to have to call a hunt early because there is no more feeling left in your hands or toes. It can also deter folks from wanting to hunt again. Prevent digit damage and stay warm in the stand.
I’ve watched a nice buck walk by without putting the gun on him because my hands were too frozen to feel the trigger. It wasn’t fair to the deer to take a poor shot with frozen hands. I won’t underestimate Minnesota hunting conditions again.
Enjoying time out in the deer stand or blind becomes impossible when the stand begins shaking from all of the shivering. I love being out in the stand come November, but I have frozen my fair share of toes. It’s one thing to stay warm out hiking in the woods, it’s an entirely different game when you plant your tush and wait for the deer to come in. The lack of movement takes it’s toll without proper preparation.
Hands are the first to freeze in the stand. Being sedentary in the stand means that the heart isn’t pumping that precious warm blood out to the extremities as hard as when a person is on the move. Hands are often the first to feel the effects of being sedentary in the stand.
Mittens/Gloves: Layer up those gloves. A thin mitten should be warn under thicker, warmer gloves.
Mitts with Magnets: Mittens with a flap that folds back are great so full removal of the glove isn’t necessary when more dexterity is required. Say “No” to Velcro. It’s loud and sticks to everything. Find mitts with a magnet in place of the Velcro, they are amazing.
Toe Warmer: Yes. Toe warmers, not hand warmers. Hand warmers are too large to fit in gloves and they slide around making it difficult to complete other tasks, like getting the gun ready. Toe warmers on the other hand, have a sticky backing and are smaller. They can slide right in the flap of a mitten flap or in the palm area of other gloves. They are perfect.
Muff: An alternative or addition to the mitts is having a muff to sling over your neck. Keeping a hand warmer in the muff will allow for warm relief when hands are not in use. It also doubles as a giant pocket for snacks.
Feet are the second body part to freeze in the stand. It goes back to the sedentary body problem again. The body is trying to hold it’s blood in the core to keep the vital organs toasty.
Boots: First things first, wear a good quality boot rated for winter temperatures. You do not want this boot to be snug. It should fit, but not be snug. There should be room for warm socks and wiggling toes. When are boots are too tight they restrict circulation. Many of us ladies already struggle with poor circulation. Boots should be dark in color. Black, dark grey, camouflage. Not blue, deer can see blue.
Socks: This is so important. Do not wear six pairs of socks. Same idea behind the not-too-snug boots; don’t cut off circulation. The most I would ever wear is two pairs of socks. A short, thin set of socks underneath a thick, tall, warm pair of socks. Invest in a good warm pair of socks, wool would be best but synthetics work too. Due to sensitive skin, I use synthetics but have been keeping my eye out for a wool sock with a synthetic lining.
Hand Warmers: Yep, here we go again. Hand warmers in the boots rather than toe warmers. The reason behind this is that they are moveable. Maybe you don’t like to have something loose in your boot, but I like being able to move the warmer from one end of my foot to the other. All I need to do is tip my foot to go from warming my heel to my toes.
I’ve had warm toes and toasty fingers while still freezing my core. Don’t forget to layer up that core. It takes longer to get cold but once it settles in, it chills you to the bone.
Base Layer: A solid set of thermals will serve you well in the stand. Check the temperature rating before purchasing. Search for a temperature rating lower than the temp you are anticipating.
In-Between Layers: Add some fleece layers and warm clothing between your base and shell. I always have at least one dark colored sweatshirt in between, sometimes more if I’m anticipating a colder day.
Shell: Your shell is likely to be orange or camo with an orange vest over it. Whatever your shell style preference is, ensure that your shell is thick and warm. I have my mom’s old hunting outfit, orange jacket, orange pants. It’s basically a giant orange marshmallow outfit. But it’s within regulations and it keeps me warm.
Wind Block: On a warm, calm autumn day the wind is no problem Without the proper layers that wind will cut right through you in no time. Be sure to have a wind resistant layer.
Deer have an amazing sense of smell. Significantly better than ours. Shampoo, body wash, deodorant, body spray…. all things to keep us smelling fresh and clean are going to alert the deer that we are in the woods. There are multiple ways to combat our peoplish stench and keep the deer unaware of our presence.
Clothes: There are brands such as “Scent Killer” and “Dead Downwind” that make laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Running the clothes that you plan to wear through the wash with either detergent or nothing but water and the dryer with one of the dryer sheets will keep your clothes from smelling like your home, dog, and regular detergents.
Many hunters also hang their apparel outside to pick up the scents of the great outdoors.
Body Wash & Shampoo: Of course there are body washes and shampoos made specifically to mask the smell of hunters. If you’re wanting to go that extra mile, give them a try. Otherwise, wash with warm (not hot) water using no soap or shampoo. Wash off the the smell without adding more perfumes on.
Long Hair: Keep long hair tied back in a low pony tail or braid. This way, your hair can be tucked inside a neck gator or inside a sweatshirt. In the stand is not the time to have hair blowing in the wind and getting in the way.
Feminine Products: It’s a real bummer when the “red tide” comes along during hunting season. Keep your feminine products unscented. Simple as that.
Scent Spray: Once you’re ready to head out to the stand, use a scent killer spray to get any stink that you may have left on you. This can be sprayed on boots and clothing.