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Advice for Cold Weather Hunting?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Justin, Jul 5, 2007.

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  1. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    THE CHAIR IS AGAINST THE WALL
    Two weeks ago, my elk tags showed up in the mail.

    I'm going hunting, in the Colorado mountains in late December.

    I need advice on staying warm and effectively hunting in cold weather. I'm going out with some friends who've been at it for years, but would very much appreciate the input of those of you with at least several years experience in cold weather hunting.

    Mostly I'm looking for gear recommendations, but I would also love to know what other stuff I need to be aware of to actually successfully pull this off. Advice on stalking, tips on movement, technique, and probably a dozen other things I haven't even thought of yet.
     
  2. PotatoJudge

    PotatoJudge Member

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  3. Alphazulu6

    Alphazulu6 member

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    Make sure you pack some nice cozy socks. December can feel like the 70s or the -40s... and all in one day with this high altitude sun and mountain storms.

    Carry lots of water too. It is amazing how this 6000-9000 elevation can make you very thirsty. It is terrible for endurance activities as you get winded fast and your body needs that fluid intake... constantly.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. Troutman

    Troutman member

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    Never hunted elk.
    Cold weather, go with goose down, clothing items that are light weight and water-proof, still keeping you warm.

    And have these guys around


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. eliphalet

    eliphalet Member

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    Wear layers, keep your feet warm and especially dry. Only kinda special item I have is a large pair of very warm easy to slip off gloves for still hunting.
     
  6. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    Get your hands on a military surplus Arctic Service Parka, I live in Alabama now and I still won't sell mine. Those coats are worth their weight in gold.
     
  7. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    As a skiier I'd say get a snowboarder outfit. anything with Goretex as an outer layer, Down inner layer and some Thermals. I like Sorel's Men's Caribou II Buff winter boots as far as boots in the snow with some good thisk wool socks. Also make sure you bring an extra pair keep them dry in plastic. Wet and cold don't go together very well.

    Otherwise enjoy the snow and the solitude
     
  8. Alphazulu6

    Alphazulu6 member

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    Look into Thermal "silk weights". They are thin and all but amazingly they are very warm and you can layer. Silk weights keep your sweat away from the skin and thats VERY important when in inclimate weather.

    We were issued them here at Carson and they worked great. I am also a big fan of Poly-Pro as its light to carry and works great. :D

    Good Luck!
     
  9. RubenZ

    RubenZ Member

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    Screw spending big money.


    Look on Ebay for Military Gear. ECWCS Parka and get some Military Poly-Pro Turtle Necks. I got the Parka for like 25 bucks used and it was in great shape. I just need to get the pants that button to the jacket and I'm set.

    If you get the entire ECWS system you will be in awesome shape. It lets in almost no Windo and will keep you dry and warm.


    I usually wear long Johns, Poly-Pro turtle neck, blue Jeans, and on top thermal underwear and the Poly Pro Turtle Neck with Parka. That is warm enough.


    here I did some searching for you:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/US-GI-ECWCS-GOR...ryZ52509QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=ECWCS+Parka&category0=

    http://collectibles.search.ebay.com...catZ13956QQsaobfmtsZinsifQQsaprchiZQQsaprcloZ
     
  10. trueblue1776

    trueblue1776 Member

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    RubenZ, Blue jeans are a survivalist no-no, they soak water, get heavy, get cold, cause blisters.
     
  11. dakotasin

    dakotasin Member

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    start with properly broke in, high quality boots, maybe 600 grams thinsulate. any more than that and the boot gets bulky and can be too hot - any less than that, and you will likely wish you had more. get quality socks, too. once that $200 - 300 is spent, the rest is easy (and cheaper).
     
  12. RubenZ

    RubenZ Member

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    True, but where I hunt I can get to safety in like 5 minutes LOL. Thats also why I mentioned I needed to get the pants for the ECWCS Parka. Once I get them I won't be wearing Jeans.
     
  13. JESmith

    JESmith Member

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    Run ... a LOT. High altitude will zap your strength and make a hunt no fun. Also high altitude sickness/headaches will kill a hunting trip.
     
  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    One pair of boots that won't allow your feet to get wet if walking in snow.

    ONe thing about layers that unzip in front is that you can open up while walking and not sweat. When you stop for a "sit and look", you zip up and stay warm.

    Heat loss from your head is a Biggie. A cap with ear flaps is good. A navy-style wool watch cap doesn't cut off your hearing as much, though--but it's less effective in wind.

    Art
     
  15. elkhuntingfool

    elkhuntingfool member

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    I'm in Utah and hunt anywhere from 8500-12,000 feet. Don't buy a snowboarding outfit like was suggested - too bulky and not necessary. Realize that you are going to sweat and your body temp will rise a bit therfore layers are the way to go. Don't wear denim - yikes. You'll get wet and be screwed in moments. Look for lightweight, but warm gear - very easy to find.

    At those elevations temps change very quickly - you could be sweating one minute and the next trying to find a place to get away from the snow.

    A good pair of waterproof boots will do you just fine. Don't wait to break them in. A good pair or two of socks will also help. Good gloves, good hat, and a good outer jacket will do you just fine.

    Again - no denim.
     
  16. Titan6

    Titan6 member

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    Elk Hunting in Colorado. :) Where abouts? What to wear, what to wear...

    - Gortex lined boots with comfortable and quiet soles.
    - Winter socks. If you will be standing around you may want either electric or those that are designed to take heat paks.
    - Moisture wicking T-shirt and underwear.
    - Polypro top and bottom.
    - Favorite water and wind resistant pants.
    - Favorite water and wind resistant top.
    - Lined light Gortex Parka
    - Lined Gortex gloves with a good leather palm
    - Orange Saftey Vest and hat. Colorado used to require this. I hope they have done away with it but have not hunted out there in nearly ten years.

    (in Pack within easy access)
    - Heavy Snow Parka with hood
    - Extreme Cold Weather mittens
    - Synthetic Face mask

    2 feet of snow with no notice in the fall is not that unusual. Last July 4th when I was camping on Pike's Peak for the Hill Climb we got a couple of inches of snow. Up by 11 Mile Resevoir a couple of days later we got another few inches of ice. This was high summer. But to Elk Hunt in Colorado... Well worth it.
     
  17. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I don't like Gore Tex outer wear when hunting in cold weather it is just to noisy. If it is rainy and wet I will use Gore tex but in freezing dry snow conditions I like wool. I use polypro long underwear top and bottom.

    My pants are old Swedish wool ski trooper pants. I wear two pairs of socks one silk and one wool. I use Schnees pack boots and a pair of gore tex gaiters that come up to the knee. If you can keep snow from getting into the top of your boots they will stay dry and warm.

    For top wear I will usually wear a turtle neck then a Woolrich wool shirt or wool sweater. Over that if it really cold I've got a wool jacket made by Weatherby. I like the turtle neck for the same reason I like gaiters, they keep the snow out of your shirt.

    I always carry two pears of gloves both gore tex both made by Cabelas. And I always carry two hats one is a Filson cap in hunter orange with wool ear flaps the other is a bright red (probably not 100% legal) musher's cap by Northern outfitters.

    I then wear a Cabelas hunter's orange pack vest over the top of my outer wear.

    Notice that I dress in layers that way when I am walking up a steep ridge I can shed clothes right down to my under wear top. If you soak your clothes in sweat you can really get into trouble.

    A couple of critical items are two pairs of gloves that way if one pair gets wet you have the other. Same for the two hats thing one of mine is lighter weight the other heavier for sitting and really cold and blizzard conditions.

    It is also not a bad idea to carry an extra pair of wool socks in your pack.

    2006cowelk.jpg

    cowelkfire06.gif
     
  18. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Justin did you draw that late season 3-301 tag? If so I can give you some sage advice on that unit. It is guarantied kill if you know where to go.;)
     
  19. M67

    M67 Member

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    Wool.
     
  20. TimboKhan

    TimboKhan Moderator

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    Well, being a native of the Centennial State and having hunted Elk, I have to say that Titan6 and H&H Hunter pretty much nailed the equipment down. The key to picking clothes to hunt in Colorado is layers, because mountain weather can get nasty real quick and with little warning. I would simply add that if you plan to spot and stalk, you would be a fool not to pack sufficient firestarting materials, a GPS, an accurate and up-to-date map and compass (and the ability to use them well), and a ton of energy bars and chemical hand-warmers. The hand-warmers are a luxury, but man, is it nice to have heat on demand when your hands get chilly. For the map, I recommend a Colorado Gazetteer. 17 bucks gets you a darned accurate map of the whole state including GPS grids, and you can just photocopy and laminate the pages you need. Extra socks are a must, and nothing beats wool. Make sure your boots are comfy and well broke-in, and while I am no example of fitness, start running and doing cardio work now. It's not the hills that get you lowlanders tired, it's the lack of oxygen. Also, make sure your rifle is not lubed up with something that will get goopy and jam you up. Because I know the area I hunt in, and because it's the way I was taught to do it, I can't offer anything useful on movement tactics because I still hunt. Also, if your anywhere near Glenwood Springs, there is no better way to come off the mountain than to go sit in the hot springs. Again, a luxury and not a hunting tactic, but elk hunting is pretty demanding work, and after 4 or 5 days of being out in the cold and burning calories like a SOB, sitting in those hot springs is only a small step down from being pampered by a harem of comely young virgins.

    As far as the blaze orange goes, the answer is that you do have to wear a certain amount. Here is a PDF link to the CDOW hunting regulations for 2007-2008:

    http://wildlife.state.co.us/NR/rdon...E36-9263-7DE1CE74B424/0/index_information.pdf

    The blaze orange requirement is on page 8 specifically.

    Finally, what area are you hunting in? I am pretty well aquainted with 23, 24, 25, 33 and 34 and would be happy to give you whatever advice I can give you if your hunting in those areas.
     
  21. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    What TimboKhan said word for word. This man obviously knows his business!

    And I'd like to add that it is breath of fresh air to read stuff like this on the internet from time to time.

    I get so sick and tired of some of the internut stuff that has been floating around lately. :D
     
  22. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Hunting in the cold.

    I've spent a good chunk of my life in N.E. Ohio and it gets pretty cold here on occassion. Well below zero and windy defines late season hunting.

    Athletic socks with wool socks over them. The athletic socks wick away moisture. The wool will keep you warm.

    Waterproof gore-tex boots. I prefer the pac style myself.

    regular underwear, including T-shirt, with thermal underwear over it.

    I wear water proofed cotton pants with wool lining. The lining is just thick enough to give me some warmth, not thick enough to make me look like the Michelin Man.

    Long sleeve flannel shirt, zip up hooded sweatshirt and barn coat.

    Fleece hood that can be both pulled down to make a neck gaiter and pulled up to make a hat.

    Wear mittens instead on gloves, they're warmer. Get ones with finger flaps so you don't need to take them off for anything but fertilizing the landscape

    If I'm going to be on a stand instead of on the move, I wear Carhart bibs and parka over this.

    For equipment, take a compass and know how to use it. A GPS is a good addition, but batteries can fail in the cold. A topo map is a near necessity when hunting unfamiliar terrain. Take plenty of matches and lighters. And, not Or. Stuff happens. Half a roll of "strikin' paper" can come in very handy. Other than the obvious use, take about two feet and roll it up as if for normal use. Then fold the roll inward, turning it halfway inside out. Light the center, it'll burn for about five minutes. Long enough to get tinder going. A few energy bars and water. An emergency tarp, the silver ones that fold up in a pocket. Twenty feet of 550 cord takes up no space and can be an impromtu frame for said tarp to make a quick shelter or heat reflector for your fire. I keep a refferees whistle in my pack. Easier and louder than shouting "somebody come get my lost butt!"
     
  23. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I deep snow and wet conditions NEVER wear cotton anything. It will get you killed.

    Of course I am talking about when you are hunting in a place where you may well find yourself days from shelter.

    Sitting on a stand or hunting in semi rural country allows one to dress less carefully.
     
  24. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Here's my Colorado elk hunting checklist -- this is everything I bring:

    Elk Hunting Checklist

    Carry items
    Hunting license and taqs
    Randall Knife
    GPS
    Maps
    Compass
    Binoculars
    Extra cartridges
    FRS Radio
    Flashlight
    Whistle
    Muzzle tape
    Flip-up scope protectors
    Rifle
    Canteen

    Pack items
    Gerber Saw
    25’ rope
    Fire starter
    Cleaning Rod
    Matches
    Down vest
    Foam pad
    Space blanket
    Lens paper
    Toilet paper
    Trash bags
    Spare batteries
    Flagging tape

    Clothing
    Gore-Tex Parka (1)
    Waffle weave underwear (2 sets)
    Poly underwear (2 sets)
    Flannel shirts (4)
    Battle Dress trousers (4)
    Heavy socks (10 pr)
    Gore-tex socks (2 pr)
    Thinsulate liners (2 pr)
    Insulated boots (1)
    Stocking caps (3)
    Orange vest (1)
    Wool gloves (2 pr)

    Other items
    Sleeping bag
    Gun oil
    Patches
    Knife sharpener
    Duffle bag
    Coolers
    Shaving gear
    Towels
    Washcloths
    Ammo .30-06 180 grain Nosler PJ
    Ammo .35 B-W 225 grain Nosler PJ
    Rifles and cases

    My philosophy is hike cold, sit warm. I usually wear only a shirt and battledress trousers, knit orange cap and vest, wool gloves, boots and socks. I carry a set of underwear, gore-tex shell parks, extra socks, and so on. When I stop and sit at a likely spot, I strip off my shirt, put on underwear, dress, put on a down vest and a gore-tex shell parka. When I move, I restore myself to my original condition.

    I buy boots two sizes too large, and wear extra socks -- or thinsulate socks or gore-tex socks as needed.

    I know people who use the trash bags (normally used to temporarily protect meat) as emergency rain grear -- saves weight in the mountains.
     
  25. Caimlas

    Caimlas Member

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    Well, I can only tell you what I wear when I'm out hunting here in SD, where winter/fall hunting temperatures are often anywhere from 20F (on a good day) down to -20F or so (on a day when you'd go out - it gets down to -40F here a couple times a winter), with winds as high as 30-40mph though usually in the 15-25 range. And that's typically way too cold for a good day of hunting - the animals will all be hiding anyway.

    But the prevailing thing out here is wind. It's rarely under 15mph here. For that, you've got to layer, and you've got to have at least one wind-breaking layer.

    When it comes down to it, you want to be able to remain warm while you're sitting still, as well as when you're moving, and that's a difficult combination (especially when there's snow or when you're dragging game). That's difficult. The primary keys to warmth and health in cold weather are fourfold:
    1) Keep your feet dry.
    2) Keep your head and feet warm - and don't neglect your face!
    3) Wear multiple layers adaptable to temperature and body heat changes to prevent chill from both cold and perspiration.
    4) Stay hydrated and well-fed!

    So here's a "short list" of what I consider essential hunting gear:
    - snow shoes (particularly in the mountains, where crevices can have some awful snow drift allowing you to fall in, half-frozen streams, etc. )
    - good waterproof boots several sizes too large - insulation is a plus, but can make your feet overly warm on a warmer day or if you're moving, and inhibit movement more than socks - so I prefer socks. :) Two pairs of socks is what I'll typically wear, and take one off or put one more on depending on weather and movement plans. Do NOT tight-lace your boots or you will lose circulation - and the boot should not 'pinch' your foot webbing when you've got your maximum amount of socks on. (My current hunting boots are Danner Strikers, and they've worked quite well for what they are.) My grandfather has sworn his entire life by those almost-olive-green Wellingtons with multiple socks, but I prefer the slight breathing ability of leather due to naturally sweaty feet, and I don't have to contend with the wet environments of his NE hunting grounds. (I don't like gortex because it makes my feet too warm, and they sweat enough as it is)
    - two pairs of comfortable poly/wool socks and two pairs of heavy wool socks per day, if you plan to make a full day of it. You can layer and you can replace them with dry socks half-way-through the day, and it'll greatly improve your energy conservation and comfort (in terms of temperature and humidity).
    - Multiple layers on my legs, from outside to in: carhart bib coveralls, old BDUs, one or two layers of thermal underwear/long johns/sweat pants. Since my legs are the part of my body more likely to be moving, I prefer to let them ventilate a bit more than my upper body.
    - Upper body, in to out: thermal underwear, fleece, thin/spring/fall windbreaker (no insulation, just a polyester cheap thing), down vest, Vietnam era hand-me-down flight deck jacket w/ 2 down liners, down overcoat, and sometimes a Filson down overcoat. Wool is warm, and fleece is pretty good too, all around. It's about as close as you can get to wool-like properties in a synthetic garment (thicker the garment the better), and mixing it with down is just about perfect!
    - head: fleece cap, scarf and a fleece/wool baklava that tucks under the collar of the jackets. It's important to keep your neck covered because you lose a lot of heat from there as well as your head. I avoid 'hooded' garments: even though they'd possibly be warmer and a little less itchy on the scalp, they'll also reduce your ability to hear your surroundings, minimalize your peripheral vision, and make a bit more noise when you move.
    - hands: wool mittens with the 'flip open' finger coverings and half-gloves built in (not sure what they're called), with some wind-resistant biking gloves underneath.
    - pack: rope, dressing tools, energy bars, jerky, hot water in a thermos, sandwich, hand/body heater packs, emergency blanket, camp cup, lighters, those old military MRE heaters (the variety that burn), plastic bags, 1 liter soda bottle to piss in (binoculars and knife go in one of the many jacket pockets)

    I should note that I've not actually spent anything for "hunting gear" per se, other than the carharts. But I've taken to wearing those during the really cold Winter days anyway. :)

    This year I intend to add a ski mask to my equipment because the high winds out here makes it almost impossible to see at times due to the cold (freezing the liquid on your eyes). I also need a good pair of snow shoes, but haven't had a real need for 'em yet. Also thinking of making/buying a poncho to use as an improvised blind or shelter if SHTF all of the sudden and a storm picks up preventing me from getting back to the vehicle.

    If I'm moving, I'll unzip the jacket and vest about 1/2 way downto allow cool air in and perspiration out, or take them off entirely. It's important to not let too much perspiration build up inside your clothes, because again, it can freeze if your body temp isn't warm enough to warm all the damp layers over 32F. Good layering helps with this a great deal, even with high winds.

    That said, this past year I sat still for a good 7 hours in the above gear, in -10F to -20F with 30mph winds (thouh I was sheltered and in a calm area) after hiking through snow that was 2/3rds of the way to my knee for about 1/2 a mile to get to my sitting place - and despite the fact that I was damp with perspiration for an hour or so after getting there, I was still warm enough that I had to take my outer jacket off. Better to be too warm than not, though, because you can and will lose body temperature FAST. It's a delicate balance between warm, too warm (too warm = more perspiration = faster rate of cooling you might not be able to recover from), and chilled.

    I'll also pack along some food and warm water in a thermos to insure that I don't lose body temp. Hunger is really good at lowering body temp, too, so eat regularly even if you don't feel particularly hungry!

    ETA: pressurized lighters CAN and WILL fail in cold weather due to the gas not evaporating/gelling (I don't know, exactly why, I just know they do). I've not had problems with zippos myself, but I have had problems with the $1 gas station variety as well as with the 'butane torch' variety. Plan ahead - I usually have three lighters on me: two on my inner garments (zippo, $1 gas station variety) and one in my bag (zippo) with extra fluid. Don't forget good waterproof matches, either.
     
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