* Mind the extremities: When hunters quit hunting because they’re cold, it’s usually because of the pain in their toes or because their fingers don’t work anymore. I use only the warmest boots available and multiple layers of wool socks. But here’s my real secret to warm feet: I carry my warm socks and boots and change into them when I get to my stand, because dryness is paramount and our feet sweat constantly, especially when hiking. Never hunt without chemical handwarmers. It’s hard to get cold fingers when you can wrap your mitts around them.
* Bulk up where you can. A major disadvantage for cold-weather bowhunters is that they can’t bulk up their upper bodies too much or it will interfere with bow shooting. You can compensate for that by wearing a ridiculous amount of insulation on your feet, legs and head. I often wear an insulated cap with a stocking cap and hood over it.
* Get a Heater Body Suit (www.heaterbodysuit.com). This is like a sleeping bag with legs that you zip up around yourself, then unzip from the inside to open and grab your bow when game appears. You can’t get cold in one of these. You might have read my recommendations for these guys before — trust me, they don’t pay me to say it. I say it because it’s the best thing going for winter hunting and I’ll never tree-stand hunt without one if it’s below freezing.
Bows And Snow
In brutal weather, your bow and other gear will suffer ill effects from the cold and moisture. Bow components become stiff and brittle when subjected to extreme cold. Going from the cold outdoors to warm houses and cars and back to subfreezing air will cause condensation and frozen parts on bows. The operation of mechanical releases, portable tree stands and other gear will be affected by cold and ice. Use moisture-displacing lubricants such as WD-40 where appropriate, or a dry lubricant such as graphite.
Make sure you continue to practice, tune and tweak your rig throughout the season, especially in cold weather. It’s common for changing conditions to change how your bow shoots as components stiffen up. You might need to make some adjustments. One modification I’d recommend is cranking a few pounds off the bow. It’s possible that if you get cold enough on stand you won’t be able to draw your normal weight — it’s happened to me!