The late fall and winter can provide excellent hunting for many game animals. Foul weather can offer a hunter with a variety of unique advantages, however it is bound to offer many obstacles as well.
Among the most obvious challenge is the cold. It’s not always easy to keep your feet warm while on a frigid winter hunt, especially when the hunter is in a stand or blind. Sometimes intense movements may be difficult as well, due to sweat becoming chilling in moments.
Any hunter who has been in conditions like this understands the agony of frozen feet. Your extremities will always be the first to lose blood, and that can be a feeling that sends you back to the truck much too early. Here are six ways to keep your feet as warm as possible while staying in the field despite what the weather has to offer.
A mistake I often find myself guilty of is lacking insulation for my feet. There are a few ways to do this, but all are based on the same idea – cover your feet in a whole lot of warm stuff. This can be accomplished many ways, but just remember that if you go too overboard, you can always lose a pair of socks and throw them in your pack. There is the obvious multi-sock method – layer your feet with multiple pairs of socks, preferably wool and as thick as possible. You will need boots that are a size too big as well. Then there are insulated boots, such as the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme with 1000 grams of insulation. These are a terrific solution, but they will not be very comfortable if you choose to wear them on a warmer day.
The snow pac style boot is a classic solution that has stood the test of time – just ask any mid-west whitetail hunter or Montana ranch hand. They are the go-to boot for any cold weather hunting, especially when confronted with masses of snow. I suggest throwing a few pairs of socks on grabbing a par of these boots. The Schee’s Extreme pacs are equipped with a thick wool inner-liner and an aggressive outsole for hunting and getting after it.
electric socks and insoles
I have spent entire hunts contemplating a purchase of electric foot warmers. I have failed to have any luck with shake-up chemical foot warmers and my frustrations with them have caused me to swear them off. Though it kills me to introduce such technology into my hunts, electric foot warmers are truly the wave of the future when it comes to cold feet. The Cabelas heated performance socks look just like any pair of socks, but they have the power to keep you in the field as long as the battery is charged. And the Thermacell heated insoles perform the same task, while sitting in your boot like any other insole.
It’s extremely important that you keep your feet dry in the field. This means from both outside moisture as well as sweat. Even if the water is warm, once you stop moving, and that cold begins to set in, then the moisture will amplify the temperature causing your feet to freeze. I suggest wearing a next-to-skin sock that wicks away moisture. Polypropylene or merino wool have worked wonders for many hunters as well as myself.
Keeping blood pumping into your feet isn’t always easy when you are sitting completely still. Sometimes your boots can even restrict blood from entering your feet, causing them to feel even more frigid. It is important to adjust your hunting boots so they do not cut off any circulation of your feet. This can be easily accomplished by loosening the laces towards the toe and lower portion of your boot. Keep the higher laces a bit tighter so warm are is not allowed to escape.
keep your head warm
Some believe that our feet may get so cold due to the exposure of our head and core to the cold. When a hunter’s head gets cold, blood is drawn from his or her extremities to warm up that vital part of the body. A good winter hat is an easy solution to that. Wearing a scarf or buff is great for covering the neck and face, but a wool stocking cap or a Stormy Kromer hat can do a great job for the top of the head. The Ultimate Cold-Weather hat accomplishes keeping the entire head warm as well.
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