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HotMocs | The Cure For Cold Feet While Hunting

by Justin Zarr 23. November 2011 10:55
Justin Zarr

One of the primary keys to a successful hunt is often the ability to both sit in your stand for long periods of time, and stay as motionless as possible.  As I've found out over the years, both of those things are very difficult to do when you've got cold feet.  That is, until I discovered HotMocs.

My first introduction to the HotMocs product was back in '07 or '08 when they were called "ThermalFeet".  Being a person who seemingly gets cold feet even in mild temperatures they immediately peaked my interest.  After a quick look at the product I decided to give it a try.  My feet have been thanking me ever since!

The premise behind this great product is that it's a small, light-weight, easy to use boot cover that holds a disposable handwarmer on the top of your foot to keep it warm.  By placing the warmer on the top of your foot you keep heat directly over the arteries and veins that supply blood to the rest of your foot.  This essentially keeps your entire foot warm while on your stand.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I'm telling you it works!  I've worn these in temps well into the teens and my feet have been toasty the entire hunt.  This coming from a guy who is notorious for getting cold feet.

There are several reasons that I prefer the HotMocs product over other methods of keeping your feet warm while on stand, the first of which is their size.  I know quite a few people who lug those large, bulky insulated boot covers with them and not one of them is ever happy about doing it.  These days it seems like we're all carrying more and more gear to our stands with us, and those big covers certainly don't help anything. 


HotMocs are small enough to literally fit right into your pocket if you wanted to.  They even come with a small carrying pouch to place them in when they're not being worn.

The second reason I like them is that they are extremely quiet.  Unlike a lot of the big boot covers which are made from a noisey nylon material, HotMocs are made from ultra-quiet fleece.  You can slip them on and off while in your stand with little to no noise, and you don't have to worry about the sound of them rubbing together on accident.

If you're interested in learning more about HotMocs check them out online at HotMocs.com.

One tip I can give you is that for really cold days, or extended sits, try using the larger body-sized handwarmers.  They are hotter and last longer, and really help keep your feet nice and toasty.  I was wearing my HotMocs last year when I shot my buck on November 15th and again this year when I shot my buck on November 20th.  Nothing makes shooting a buck more enjoyable than having warm feet when you do it!

For the proof that I've actually been using this product for years check out this Blog from December 2008!

Wisconsin Late Season Bowhunting Success - The Perfect 12

by Dan Schafer 16. January 2011 18:15
Dan Schafer

Like a lot of stories in the modern age of bowhunting, this one starts with a single trail camera picture. Two days after the Wisconsin muzzleloader season ended, my brother Rick was checking cameras and got a shock when he looked at the pictures and saw a buck we had never seen before. He called me up and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I am looking at a picture of a perfect 12.” Since December 10th, this buck was simply known as “Perfect 12.”

Now, we have a dilemma. With the extremely wet late summer and heavy clay ground that our property sits on, we were unable to get our food plots in. Essentially, we have no reason for this buck to stay on our property. Since baiting is legal in WI, (two gallons per 40 acres) we decided to give it a try. We knew it would be nearly; remember I say nearly, impossible to kill a mature buck like this over bait. Our plan was simply to provide a food source we were lacking, place trail cameras there and hunt it as if it were a food plot.

Over the next couple days we placed two gallons of corn at five different spots over our 560 acres. Two of those spots were at box tower stands that my nephew, Nick Schafer, could hunt out of. With the early snowstorms we had this year, there was going to be a limited amount of areas that he could get to and hunt from his wheelchair. But, with those snowstorms and deep snow, little did we know how effective the feeding would be at these stands. With no food plots or standing crops within a few miles of us, the deer took to our new food sources very quickly.

Over the course of the next week we ended up getting a number of trail camera pictures of Perfect 12, but like we suspected, all at night and at different stands. He seemed to have no real pattern. On December 20th, to our amazement, we got several daytime pictures of him at one of the stands Nick would be able to hunt. Unfortunately, as you can see, the date and time was wrong on the camera. I had forgotten to check the batteries on the DLC Covert and in the extreme cold weather the date and time were reset. With the very busy Christmas season in the family grocery business, Nick and his dad Jeff (another of my brothers) would not be able to hunt the stand until the following week.

 

The day after Christmas we headed up to the cabin with high hopes that this buck would still be visiting Nick’s stand in daylight hours. Shortly after getting in the stand, does, fawns and even a couple young bucks that had shed both sides starting filtering in. It wasn’t long before it was getting dark and the hopes that Perfect 12 would show had faded. Over the course of the next couple weeks, Nick and Jeff were able to hunt a few more times, but the result was always the same, lots of does and fawns, but no Perfect 12.

On January 8th, with two days left in the WI archery season, we took Nick and Jeff out to the stand. The idea of getting a shot at Perfect 12 had disappeared and Nick was planning on shooting the first big doe that walked in. It didn’t take long and Jeff was fast asleep in his chair, sawing logs and dreaming of big bucks. A few minutes later Nick sees movement 60 yards in front of them. For a moment, he thought he was dreaming as well, as Perfect 12 seemingly materializes out of thin air. Trying to wake his dad, Nick whispers, “big buck.” He could hear Jeff stirring a little bit and simply said, “don’t move, big buck.” It didn’t take long for Jeff to see the giant walking at them, turning his head to the side to get his rack through the brush.

Let me say, at this moment, if I could pick one person who I have 100% confidence to make a shot in an extreme high-pressure situation, it would be Nick. I have never seen a person so calm and patient when it comes to shooting, as him. He rightfully earned the nickname “Deadeye” years ago.

As the buck approached the food, Nick shouldered his Ten Point crossbow and waited for the moment of truth. 30 seconds later, the buck gave him a perfect broadside shot. Like he’s done dozens of times, Nick squeezed the trigger and sent the NAP Thunderhead on its way through both lungs! Once again, Nick lived up to the nickname “Deadeye” and sent Perfect 12 to meet the Sandman and take a little dirt nap.

When I came in from hunting that night I could see the look on Nick’s face. Anyone that knows him will tell you that he has an infectious smile and when I saw it, I knew something great happened. After hearing the story of how Perfect 12 stepped out of the brush at 1:45 in the afternoon and Nick anchoring him with a perfect shot, I couldn’t wait to go help retrieve him take pictures.

Again, a huge congrats Nick, and a bigger Thank You for letting me be a part of it and being such a huge inspiration to me.

Shed buck game camera pics, and a surprise.....

by Scott Abbott 22. December 2008 09:46
Scott Abbott

 

Looks to be a healthy buck who has shed his antlers at first glance......

 

 

  Maybe even at second glance.....

 

 

How about now?????

 

 

For my area his muscles structure would be very large in his shoulder area to be 1.5 buck, nor do his facial features look to be a yearlings so I am leaning at 2.5 years old...  I never saw this buck all summer on camera or all fall from stand..... 

I just put a camera back out a week ago to check on the shedding process.....  This is the only shed buck on camera so far.


I wonder if that is a birth defect or an injury sustained later in life.   Any thoughts, ideas or experiences to shed some light on this?

Whitetail Hunting in December

by Justin Zarr 16. December 2008 13:15
Justin Zarr

Despite my recent close encounter with a nice buck here at home my confidence was still pretty low in my hunting spots.  Late season seems like it's always hit or miss and given my trend of misses lately I figured it was time for a change.  So I packed my truck and headed down to West Central Illinois for another shot at some of the bucks Mike and I had seen back in November.  With nobody pressuring our hunting spot since we left last month I was hopeful that a few bucks may have called this place home in order to avoid the firearms hunters that no doubt invaded the countryside recently.

That first morning I headed for a tree that Mike and I hunted earlier this fall, close to where I missed my one shot at a mature buck so far this year. After hanging my Lone Wolf climbing sticks and Lone Wolf Alpha Assault treestand before light I got settled in for my Saturday morning hunt.  Having a lightweight setup like this Lone Wolf gear is essential for hunting this way as it affords me the ability to move around from spot to spot quickly without moving bulky climbing ladders or screw-in steps that take forever to set up.  Temperatures were mild, in the mid 30's, this morning with strong South winds.  Fortunately given the terrain in this part of the state I was able to get down into a ravine and out of most of it.  I was set up right on top of a good bedding area, hoping to catch these bucks coming back from their nightly feeding areas.  Again, a lot of guys would avoid these types of spots in fear of spooking deer but with a limited amount of time to hunt and knowing the deer were pressured less than a week ago with firearms season, I know they wouldn't be moving much and my best chance was to get as close as possible to them.

Shortly after I got settled into my stand I glanced over my shoulder and saw a buck headed my way.  I immediately stood up and grabbed my bow before taking a better look at the buck.  As fate would have it, this nice 2 1/2 year old just wasn't what I was looking for and as he made his way past me at a mere 12 yards and gave my every opportunity to shoot him, I just couldn't do it.  I would rather eat both of my tags than shoot a deer I'm not going to be happy with so I watched him meander off further into the ravine, looking for a spot to lay down out of the wind.


I believe this is the buck that I passed on, although since this photo was taken last month he appears to have broken off his right G3 as well.  A nice buck, but just not the one I'm after. This particular photo was taken with a Moultrie I-40 trail camera which is one of our top sellers and has a great flash range and amazing battery life.

Later that morning I did spot a better buck working his way up the ravine from me, however either he didn't hear my grunts in the wind or didn't care as he eventually worked his way over the hill along with a 1 1/2 year old buck.  Then shortly before I was set to climb down for the morning I spotted two does running over the hill away from me. As I was wondering why they were running I spotted a beautiful blonde coyote that came running almost to the base of my tree, but spooked off before I could get a shot at him.  Even as I climbed down that morning I knew I made the right decision to head back to this spot as the deer were still in there and moving during daylight.

The evening hunt was rather unproductive as I only spotted 4 does far off in the distance and that was all.  I was set up near a CRP field that held a lot of deer earlier this fall, but I have a feeling after the pressure of firearms season they are sticking more towards the thick security cover and out of the open areas until well after dark.


At least the cool sunset gave me somthing to look at since I wasn't seeing any deer!

A new piece of gear I tried out for the first time on this evening hunt was my Lone Wolf Foot Rest, which I recently installed on one of my hang-on stands.  It took me about 10 minutes to drill some holes into the platform and install the rests, and I'm glad I did!  I only sat for about 3 hours this evening but they definitely made it a more comfortable sit, that's for sure.  I'm planning on installing more foot rests on all of my stands during the off season in preparation for those longer all-day sits next November.  If you're looking for a cheap and easy way to make your Lone Wolf stand more comfortable, check these out.  We have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com for only $17.95 and there's still time to get them before Christmas! Click here to get yours.

Sunday morning was my last hunt of the weekend as I wanted to get home early on Sunday and keep the wife happy.  (I'm sure many of you can relate!)  I headed back into the same stand from the morning before and with 55 degree temperatures I worked up quite the sweat!  Once again not long after daylight I had another nice 2 1/2 year old buck working up the ravine towards me, however this one got downwind of me before he came into range and headed for the next county in the blink of an eye.  The funny part is that during our November hunts we had deer downwind of us all the time and none of them reacted as badly as this buck.  I guess it just goes to show what a lot of pressure will do to your deer!

An hour or so later I had two small 1 1/2 year old bucks come by and I was able to snap a few photos of the closer one as he crossed 20 yards behind my stand and made his way into the bedding area.

I sat until about 9:30 this morning before calling it quits for the weekend and climbing down.  On my way out of the woods I put out my new Cuddeback Capture IR trail camera.  This is a brand new camera that was just released in the last few weeks and is an infrared version of the popular Cuddeback Capture that was released this fall.  I've had great success so far with my two regular Capture cameras, so I'm hoping to continue with this one.  Unlike the standard Capture the IR version is 5.0 megapixels during the day (standard Capture is 3.0) but only 1.3 megapixels at night with the infrared flash.  My only worry is that the flash range is only rated for 25 feet, which is pretty close.  For this reason I purposely kept the camera close to the area I'm hoping to monitor which is a well-used trail that connects two good bedding areas.  If you'd like to pick up a new Cuddeback Capture IR we have them in stock and ready to ship here at Bowhunting.com.  At $229.99 they seem like a great camera with a lot of great features.  Click here to purchase yours.

When Mike and I return in two weeks to hunt after Christmas I will hopefully have some images to share with everyone.  My hope is that a few of the bucks from our November hit list are still around including Big Rob, Stickers, Dope Ear, Lieutenant Dan, Curious George the 2 1/2 year old buck we each passed numerous times that we couldn't get away from!  I feel good about our chances of connecting on a buck before the season is over, and with 2 1/2 days to get it done I think we could end the season in good fashion if we play our cards right.


The new Cuddeback Capture IR digital trail camera.  Will it perform as well as the standard Capture?  We'll find out in two weeks!

Close Call With an Illinois Whitetail

by Justin Zarr 8. December 2008 12:40
Justin Zarr

For those of you who may have been following along in my blog this season, you know it's been a trying year for me.  It started off promising enough with a successful doe harvest on my third sit of the year and peaked around November 9th with one of the most exciting mornings I've ever had in the woods.  As Mike and I counted nearly a dozen bucks running around that morning, chasing does like crazy, I was feeling pretty good about my season.  Little did I know it was going to take a turn for the worse.

After we returned home to Northern Illinois from that trip, my spirits were still high and I was hoping to ambush one of the many bucks I had gotten trail camera pictures of all summer and fall.  Unfortunately for me over the course of the next month not only would I not see any of those bucks, but in over a dozen trips to stand I would only see 11 total deer, only one of which was within shooting range.  The year and a half old spike just wasn't what I was looking for, so I elected to contently watch him from my elevated perch as darkness fell on yet another Illinos bowhunt.


This is what a cold, unhappy bowhunter looks like during a frigid December bowhunt in Illinois.

With the late season upon us and rutting activity for all intents and purposes over, my focus turned once again to food sources.  I knew the deer would be concentrating on them now, and with the cold weather we've had and several inches of snow on the ground I figured now was a good time to try and capitalize on their hunger.  My plan was relatively simple - I knew the deer liked to feed in a hay field on the farm I hunt during the late season.  The past two years we've had numerous encounters with does headed to this field before dark but for some reason never any good bucks.  After analyzing the situation I figured that we were hunting too close to the field and only catching the deer who were brave enough, or dumb enough, to show themselves before dark.  The bigger bucks that we are after were probably hanging back in the woods a few hundred yards and waiting for night to fall before entering the fields.  So I hung a stand about 300-400 yards off the field, adjacent to the nearest heavy cover that we know serves as a late season bedding area.

Sunday December 7th brought temperatures in the teens with a slight South wind, which was nearly perfect for my new setup.  I snuck into my stand ever so quietly over the snow covered ground, slipped into my bibs and heavy coat at the base of my tree, climbed up and got settled for the night.  If you're like me and don't like hunting the cold because your feet get frozen quickly, I highly recommend checking out the ThermalFeet boot warmers.  I've been wearing them for the past three seasons and LOVE these things.  You put a disposable hand warmer into the pocket on the ThermalFeet cover, then slip it over the outside of your boot and they keep your toes toasty warm all night.  I hunted for nearly three hours and my toes never even came close to getting cold.  Love these things!!!  Check them out right here at Bowhunting.com, they make great stocking stuffers and we're giving away a free set of hand warmers with every purchase.


ThermalFeet - the greatest things ever when it comes to cold weather hunting!!

In any case, I got settled into my stand around 2:30 and began the wait.  Around 3:45 I spotted my first deer making its way through the woods toward my stand.  At first glance it appeared to be a doe, but after futher inspection I found it to be a young buck with 2" spikes.  Although he would quality as an antlerless deer since his antlers were under 3" long, I elected to let him walk and took some photos of him as he passed by, right through my shooting lanes as I had hoped.


This 1 1/2 year old buck made his way right by my stand, just as I had hoped.  Too bad he wasn't bigger!

Shortly after the small buck left the first of 9 does that I would spot that evening showed up directly downwind of me.  The three does were headed the opposite direction that I thought they would come, and although they could smell me and knew something was wrong they never spooked.  In fact, they hung out about 40 yards in front of my stand pretty much all night.  Later on 4 more does approached from the South and were headed towards my stand, down a path that would lead them to my right.  I grabbed my bow off the hook, clipped my release on, and waited for them to head my way. 

As fate would have it, the 4 does hung up about 18 yards behind my stand, milling around and generally just teasing me because I couldn't shoot them.  As darkness approached my hands started to grow cold so I moved my body entirely around and was able to sandwich my bow between myself and the tree, so I could put my hands in my pockets to warm them up for a minute.  About this time I heard something directly behind me in the woods.  I thought perhaps the three does that were to the North of me finally made their way into the woods so I turned my head around only to see the big 10 pointer I have been chasing all year standing only 8 yards way, in my shoting lane, broadside, feeding on some underbrush!

I couldn't believe it.  All night I had been so careful to not let any deer sneak up behind me in the snow but my preoccupation with these does had gotten the best of me and there he was, right in the open!  With my bow in my hand and my release already clipped on all I had to do was turn around to get a clear shot at him.  As I made my rotation in my stand, once again Murphy's Law struck and somehow, someway I managed to rub the cable on my treestand the wrong way which made the slightest "twang", which was enough to send my dreams of this buck's rack on my wall up in smoke.  The 3 1/2 year old buck looked straight up at me, skylined against the sky, bobbed his head once to get a better angle, and headed back the way he had come with another buck in tow.


The buck that got away - I call this guy "The Sheriff".  Much like the Sherrif of Nottingham was Robin Hood's arch nemesis, he is now mine! By the way - this photo was taken about 80 yards from where I had my encounter with this buck.  It was taken shortly after darkness fell, which lead me to belive the buck was bedding nearby and exiting the safety of his bedroom after dark.  I hoped the cold weather would bring him out during daylight, which it did.  I just couldn't capitalize on his mistake.

My spirits sunk and I seriously was about 1/2 second away from tossing my bow right out of the tree and calling it quits for the year.  I had let my guard down for a minute to worry about shooting a doe, and the one buck I had set out for that night got close enough to me that I could've spit on his back, all without me knowing it.  Even as I type this my bowhunting heart breaks just thinking about it.  So close!


The view from my stand in the direction the buck approached.  As you can see, I can see for quite a ways which means he was probably there for quite awhile without me ever realizing it!!  When I finally saw the buck he was at the very bottom of this photo, in the small clearing in front of the tree you can see I had cut down two weeks earlier.  That close!!

So with all of that said, despite my awful season persistance finally paid off with a great night in stand and an encounter with a buck that I will no doubt continue to hunt for this year, and into next year if I have to.  Unfortunately I have some committments during January that are going to keep me out of the woods after the New Year which means I have exactly three weekends left to seal the deal on a buck or it's tag soup for this guy!  This coming weekend I'll be heading back down to our lease in Brown County to try and connect on one of the bucks I saw during our November trip, then I'll be home for a weekend before one last ditch effort after Christmas back at the lease.  I'm pretty much done relying on luck at this point, since I apparently have none of it!  So it's going to be some good old-fashioned scouting and deer hunting know-how that's going to get it done for me if I'm going to be successful.  Screw luck anyways!




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