When it comes to keeping hands and fingers warm and nimble, waterfowlers have it tough. Conditions are usually wet, often windy and sometimes cold. Frozen fingers are miserable, and they reduce your ability to get tasks done and make shots. But there is help. Put these tips and products to work and deal yourself a couple winning hands this season.
Keep a small, appropriately colored towel handy to dry your hands after working with decoys, cutting reeds or completing other wet jobs. Wetness, and the resulting evaporation, saps heat from your fingers and halts circulation to them.
Wear decoy gloves while tossing out blocks. These waterproof, long-armed coverings (made of rubber or neoprene and often PVC coated) keep your hands and coat sleeves dry as you work. Getting your fingers soaked before the day even starts is no fun, and you need to be ready to shoot during those critical first 10 minutes.
Give your hands the chance to get together and rub up to exchange warmth. A muff protects from the cold, gives fingers a break from the elements and does those jobs much better than a coat pocket. Muffs also can hold something very important:
Put chemical or fuel-burning handwarmers to work. Costing about a buck each, chemical warmers are a bargain and can really keep your fingers comfortable. Make sure chemical warmers stay dry. Fuel-burning handwarmers are more work to manage, but they really crank out the heat and can make your day.
Take a portable propane heater along. If you're using a boat or canoe to get to your blind, what's it going to hurt among all the decoys and other gear you lug anyway? The blast of hot air is perfect for drying hands and keeping spirits up. Heaters are also essential gear for field hunting from pit blinds.
Make the investment for a pair — preferably a couple — of neoprene gloves. You won't balk at the price after seeing what these waterproof marvels can do. Get a thick pair (such as 5mm) for task-mastering as you unload the boat, paddle out, place decoys, etc. Then use a thinner pair (such as 1mm) for hunting and shooting.