Lessons From the Field, Part Two

FEB5During this past year, I was fortunate enough to have some memorable hunting adventures. I learned a lot of lessons, had some success and I was even forced to admit some defeats. I believe hunting can teach us a lot about ourselves and I certainly can testify that I learned a lot in 2014.

During a nine day portion of a long hunting trip in Alaska, my hunting partner and I were essentially stuck inside of a tent for eight solid days of pouring rain. I don’t know if you have ever been stuck inside of a 6’x6’ tent for that long, but it can be quite interesting. Thankfully we had a few books to pass around and plenty of food, but having a portable propane heater was really a lifesaver.

Although we were inside of a tent, that doesn’t mean we were dry. We had to go outside to cook, go to the bathroom and to do maintenance checks on our guylines and rainfly. Not only were we getting wet when outside, but we were also producing condensation inside of the tent. No matter what when it is raining hard, even the best of tents will not keep you completely dry.

So, you have to figure out a system and our system was to run our little heater intermittently to keep up with our wet clothes and our wet floor. Once everything would basically dry out, we would shut off the heater and retreat to our sleeping bags for warmth and comfort. Since we flew into our remote location by bush plane, we only were only able to carry a limited supply of heating fuel due to weight issues, and, by using it sparingly in a controlled manner, we were able to stretch a few days’ worth of heat into eight days of semi-comfort.

Another piece of valuable knowledge that my hunting partner shared with me was the value of proper clothing when it comes to keeping dry and warm while hunting in Alaska. Due to the moisture and lack of wood above the treeline, Kodiak Island is not a place where a hunter can simply whip out some matches and build a fire for warmth and safety. There is nothing to burn to make that fire, so having the proper clothing is a no-brainer if you want to survive the elements there.

A good moisture wicking base layer is the foundation for hunting comfort. I used merino wool and it worked great. I also used smart wool socks. Outerwear is important too and we both used Cabela’s brand performance clothing and Primaloft coats under our rain gear. I never had a complaint about the weather and since we spent a lot of time in the rain, this is a testament to how handy proper clothing can be.