When the thermometer soars, many hunters stay home and enjoy the air conditioning. That may be a big mistake.
I looked at the thermometer in the truck just before stepping out into the heat of the fall afternoon. It read 99 degrees. This is nuts, I thought to myself. Being from Minnesota, I am used to layering up during hunting season, but I was on a hunt in southeast Montana where the heat can soar early in the hunting season. The locals like to say “it’s a dry heat.” Yeah, so is a blast furnace.
Whether you hunt the plains, the desert, or the hot and humid South, heat can be a factor during early hunting season, and how you deal with it can make or break your hunt. Here are six easy ways to beat the heat and make your hunt more successful.
One of the keys to having a successful hunt is to stay comfortable. That’s a common theme among all of these tips and one of the most important ways to stay comfortable is to avoid getting thirsty. Thirst will drive you out of the stand or at least destroy your concentration faster than anything. I like to use a pack with a water bladder and take far more water than I think I will drink. When it is hot and you are sweating even while just sitting on stand, you will be amazed how much water you can go through in just a few hours. If you are not using a pack with a bladder, consider a couple bottles of a thirst quencher such as Gatorade in addition to water. It does make a difference.
Sweat can stink up the place in a hurry. It’s a good idea to take a shower with an antibacterial soap right before going to the stand. Use a good scent-killing spray on your clothing, and then take your time getting to your hunting area so you do not get all sweaty hustling out there. No scent-control effort can totally eliminate your odor, but you can significantly minimize it by being clean and reducing the odor-causing bacteria that thrives in your sweat. Start out clean and remain as clean and scent-free as possible.
Win the bug battle
Warm weather is often associated with mosquitoes and biting flies. Mosquitoes have saved the lives of a lot of deer. Deer are almost magical in their ability to detect the slightest movement, even from a distance. Swishing a mosquito away from your face might just catch the attention of a buck which will move off unseen, and you will never know he was in the area.
Mosquito repellents smell very strong and can be quickly diluted by sweat. The ThermaCELL insect repellent has totally changed warm-weather hunting for me. It has a little smell, but I have not noticed game animals significantly alarmed by it. If you hunt in hot weather without one, you are really missing out.
Hunt the cool areas
Sometimes it’s possible to choose hunting locations that are shaded and cooler than the surrounding landscape. During hot weather, the deer tend to gravitate towards low, shaded areas to avoid the heat, and hunters should too. Swamps, river bottoms, and thick timber all deserve consideration when looking for areas to beat the heat. Game animals know where the cool spots are and you should too.
Sun and wind
The worst thing you can do during a hot hunt is to be sitting in direct sunlight. Choose stand locations where you can be protected from the hot rays of the dropping sun. Ideally, you want any approaching game animals to have the sun in their eyes, so that puts you with the sun at your back. Look specifically for places to hang a stand where shade will protect you through the entire time the sun is dropping and the shadows are moving.
Can you find a spot like that where you can get a little breeze on you? It’s amazing how much comfort a breeze can offer you, and getting a little air movement might be as simple as moving the stand up in the tree another five feet.
Dress for success
In the last decade, several companies have come out with clothing specifically designed to help us beat the heat. This is true of both shirts and pants. Fabrics that wick away sweat and cool the body make a huge difference in comfort level. Some pants are made of fabric that allows air to flow through the material and cool you. Avoid cotton because it tends to collect sweat and is a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.
Often the temperature plummets during the last half-hour of daylight, so carry an extra layer, such as a second light shirt, to put on once the temperature drops. Comfort is everything when hunting in the heat, and being prepared with these six tips will go a long way in helping you concentrate on your prey rather than on the weather.
Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog, bowhuntingroad.com.
Images by Bernie Barringer