Late-season bowhunting can be unforgiving. Plummeting temperatures, coupled with snow and ice, make for some brutal hunting conditions. But, it’s also an ideal time to get the jump on a seasoned warrior buck heading to feed when a calorie reload is most crucial.
There are a few adjustments archers should consider making to their gear, however, if they plan to face the elements and successfully weather the storm. What follows are seven steps to winterize your bow set for hunting in cold, snow and ice.
Nothing can ruin the last-best shot of the season like a drop-away rest that doesn’t function properly. I love drop-away rests and personally use one for the majority of the year. However, in snowy, sub-freezing temperatures, ice bits can easily freeze up the mechanisms, forcing the last contact point when your arrow leaves the bow to fail when it matters most.
A much safer option is a self-contained arrow rest that provides less room for error. With no moving parts, a Whisker Biscuit-style rest provides its own stable housing for the arrow, making it more consistent and reliable, even when the mercury dips below 32-degrees.
For those not too keen on tinkering with their drop-away rests so far into the season, simply slip an old glove or sock over your rest until you’re ready to shoot. This will prevent it from collecting moisture and icing up.
Fix it and forget it
For the same general reasons as using a self-contained rest, it may be advisable to consider using fixed pin sights and broad heads for hunting in wintry conditions.
Again, the less one has to worry about something going wrong, the better. It’s not worth risking a blown shot or wounded deer over mechanical error when it could’ve been avoided.
Wax On, moisture off
The easiest way to protect your bowstring from the deteriorating effects of moisture is to give it a good coating of string wax before and after each hunt. Upon returning home from a long, miserable sit in the sleet and snow, wipe everything down with a dry towel. Then, give it the Mr. Miyagi treatment with plenty of fresh wax. It will wick moisture away, essentially lengthening the life of your string.
Trick out your tree stand
Returning home safely to your loved ones should be the number one priority. Climbing and maneuvering around metal tree stands can be an issue when ice is in the picture. Remedy this problem by purchasing some inexpensive anti-slip grip tape from a hardware store, and apply it to flat surfaces requiring extra traction.
While you’re at it, pick up some foam pipe insulation to add to metal railings or seat contact areas. Not only will it dampen the sound of your movement; it will also make long, cold sits much more comfortable.
When precipitation is inevitably in the forecast, it sometimes pays to take refuge in a ground blind or use a tree umbrella. We all know that approaching storm fronts put deer on their feet, but you don’t want to get caught in the mess. Staying dry will go a long way in helping you stick it out to go the distance.
Dressing for the weather is absolutely imperative. Multiple layers, complete with waterproof outer garments are essential for a comfortable hunt. Start with a moisture wicking base layer, followed by a fleece shirt, a wool sweater and a breathable Dry-Plus or Gore-tex jacket and pants.
New technology from MyCoreControl.com uses an innovative thermal heating system that provides battery-powered core body warmth without added bulk, which could give archers the maneuverability they need to make a shot in cold temps.
Wool socks, insulated boots, a fleece cap and a pair of light gloves for dexterity round out the package to serve bow hunters well.
Chemical hand warmers are game changers. Crack a few bags open and stuff them into your pockets to serve dual purposes. First and foremost, they will keep your hands nice and toasty, enabling you to wear thin gloves that actually allow you to feel your release.
Secondly, they can help preserve the battery life in your range finder, cell phone, headlamp and camera. Nothing drains electronics quicker than the bitter cold. These little heat packets can literally save the day.
Late-season bowhunting is definitely not for the faint of heart. But for those passionate, crazy or desperate enough to face old man winter in quest of a time- hardened survivor buck, success can be found with a few simple gear modifications. That success, in spite of nature’s elements, will prove to be all the more fulfilling.