Beating the Brrrs

Nine tips for staying warm in the winter woods.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Late in the season, one of the most important skills a deer hunter can possess is knowing how to stay warm. The longer you keep the shivers at bay, the better your chance of hanging antlers over the hearth. Follow these tips to keep your furnace stoked:

(1) Dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes that create air space to trap body warmth, such as wool. Don't forget a warm hat: Up to 60 percent of body heat is lost through the head.

(2) Lace your hunting boots loosely. Tight laces impede circulation. Pac boots with removable liners that can be dried over a campfire are best for keeping feet toasty on extended hunts.

(3) When heading to your stand, pack your outer layer instead of wearing it, which would make you sweat. Damp clothes promote evaporative cooling, making it impossible to stay warm.

(4) Use chemically activated heat packs (fuel sticks and liquid-filled hand warmers are bulky and give off unnatural odors). On stand, place one in the toe of each boot and one inside each glove. Fold a fifth pack inside a silk scarf and wrap it around your neck.

(5) Metal tree stands sap body warmth. Carry two squares of indoor-outdoor carpet, one for under your backside, the second to insulate the soles of your boots from the footrest. A thermal seat cushion is another good option.

(6) Windchill is your enemy. Position your stand so that a tree trunk or heavy brush bucks the prevailing breezes.

(7) Always start the day with clothes that have first been warmed up. If camping, you can heat socks and boot liners in the toe of your sleeping bag overnight.

(8) Wrap the handle of your bow with moleskin or an insulated bow muff. Or hang your bow or rifle on a tree-stand bracket and keep your hands warm in a muff until it's time to shoot.

(9) Follow the sun. Use stands that face east in the morning, south at midday, and west in the afternoon. This will keep you warmer and improve your chances at a shot as deer seek sunlit areas for their own comfort.