If your interpretation of duck hunting is being cold wet and miserable than you have a lot to learn. In reality with modern hunting equipment that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Modern outdoor gear allows you to easily stay comfortable in your blind or mucking about in the field. If you follow a few of my cold weather duck hunting tips and bundle up you won’t have to call your hunting season short due to cold weather. In order to keep warm during the duck hunting season you will need to control your body heat, stay dry and block out the wind.
Staying Warm While Duck Hunting
How to Stay Dry During The Duck Hunting Season
Staying dry during the duck hunting season is easier said than done. If you prepare ahead of time and purchase the correct clothing you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. To stay dry you need to wear the proper outer layer of clothing. Choosing a hat, jacket and pants made out of 100 percent waterproof fabrics is a good start. There’s a fine line between just choosing waterproof fabric and finding clothes you can actually wear. Most cheap waterproof hunting gear is severely lacking when it comes to comfort. It’s important to choose clothing that is both waterproof and lets your body breathe. Otherwise you’re in for a very uncomfortable hunt.
The best fabrics completely block out external moisture while allowing your perspiration to get away from your skin. Preventing moisture from being trapped against your skin is key to reducing heat loss and reducing the risk of hypothermia. If you’re looking for a good place to start try out Drake’s Wader Coat and Drakes Bib Overalls. Most hunters agree that Drake’s Waterfowl gear is about as good as you’re going to get. Drake’s gear is 100% waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable. It’s also very expensive, but trust me when it gets cold out you’ll be glad you have it.
How To Properly Layer Up
Wearing a proper parka and jacket made from a two way waterproof material is a good first step but you’ll also want to properly layer. Wearing multiple layers of lighter clothing is much more effective than wearing a few heavy layers. Layering will allow you to control your body heat without weighing you down. By adding or removing clothing you’ll be able to stay comfortable in any weather condition.
Typically layering up will revolve around your under wear and work its way out. You’ll typically like to purchase a nice set of breathable moisture wicking long underwear. My favorites are the Carhartt Men’s Cold Weather Bottoms and Patagonia Capilene Base Layer Top. The Patagonia shirt is a bit on the expensive side for a base layer but I throw it on every time I plow my driveway so it gets a lot of use. You really don’t have to get that fancy any decent water wicking base layer will work. Next you’ll want to put on a nice cotton or wool sweatshirt followed by a heavy shirt. You may want to wear a insulated vest or heavy duty neoprene waders depending on what you plan on doing.
Common Mistakes That Will Make You Freeze
There are only a few places that the majority of body heat escapes from. The four main areas heat escapes is the Head, Neck, Wrists and Feet. It’s important to keep these four areas protected to reduce heat loss. There’s so much great cold weather gear available that it’s impossible for me to recommend any one hat or neck guard. Just make sure that whatever you buy is waterproof and you cover your wrist and neck. Whenever I go hunting I also like to keep an extra pair of warm gloves in my inside pocket just in case my primary gloves get wet. It really seems like every time I go out into the woods I somehow manage to put my hand in a puddle and get my wrist wet. You can avoid this by getting a pair of hunting gloves with a set of tall adjustable wrist straps like these Drake’s Double Duty Waterfowl Gloves. There are much cheaper options available but you can’t beat the Drake Gloves. It’s also a good idea to bring a couple of those disposable hand warmers just in case. Disposable hand warmers are cheap and they could mean the difference between being miserable or having a great hunt.
Keeping your feet warm in the winter is another extremely important step. What a lot of people don’t realize is that wearing overly tight boots will freeze out your feet more than wearing to thin of socks. There’s a reason diabetics always have cold feet and it’s because of poor circulation. If your boots are restricting the blood flow to your feet they are going to feel like they’re freezing. I’m not saying that a nice pair of warm boots and insulated hunting socks won’t help, but if you don’t want to cut off circulation. Any pair of thick breathable wool socks will work but I typically lean towards the Carhartt Cold Weather Boot Socks. Spending my teenage years loading semis for UPS in the winter taught me to trust these Carhartt socks. When the inside of the trailer was under ten degrees and I couldn’t feel my hands my feet stayed toasty warm.
Preparing Your Duck Blind For The Weather
I always like to get to hunting spot a few hours early to make sure everything is setup properly. Luckily I can hunt on my own property so I have two permanent blinds setup. I won’t go into everything required to build a good duck blind but there are complete plans available. Just make sure you put up your blind in an area that won’t flood and is somewhat easy to access. If you camouflage the outside and choose your spot based on location and average wind patterns you should have a good season.
One of the most important steps when building a hunting blind is to make sure it’s waterproof and windproof. You don’t want your hunting blind bag and all your gear to get soaked. Nothings worse than sitting with your chest on your knees waiting out a bad storm. With a little bit of waterproofing and windproofing you will be a whole lot happier. Lots of hunters like to choose a small portable heater to keep with them in their blind. My personal favorite heater is the Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Heater. Both the small and large version will keep you incredibly warm. These portable heaters run off a propane tank and should last you 4-6 hours on a single small tank. The only real downside to these portable heaters is the noise they make and light it gives off. Maybe I’m in the minority but I would rather the occasional duck hear me than freeze my butt off. Trust me when I say using one of these heaters has gotten me out in the woods when I would have otherwise stayed at home watching football. If you plan accordingly and follow the above tips you should be able to extend your hunting season well into the winter.