One of my first late season bow hunts was a cold December weekend and with temps in the teens I opted for some very heavy gloves. I set up in on the high side of a little stream leading from the edge of a swamp and some hard woods into a open pasture. We had been seeing a group of deer come out of that area every night close to sun down to feed in the pasture.
About 30 minutes before dark a group of 3 does came out of the swamp and worked with in 15 yards of me along the creek and into the pasture. Not 5 minutes later a thick racked 8 pointer came along that same path following the does. I drew back and covered his vitals with my 20 yard pin. The buck paused to sniff a drop of well placed doe pee I had laid out and I was ready to shoot when I realized- My gloves were so big and loose fitting I couldn't get my finger over the release trigger to loose my arrow.
The buck proceeded to spot me as I went from full draw back down to try and remove my release and glove and calmly walked off into the pasture well out of range never to be seen again.
I learned a valuable lesson that day- Always put all your gear on and practice shooting your bow. Gloves, heavy coats and face masks all change the feel of the bow. Face masks can change the way the kisser button seats on your face, heavy coats can effect your draw and gloves can effect your release.
Ever since that day in October I have opted for some light weight gloves and a muff that allows me to put my hands in and out easily even with my release on. When the weather is really cold I will often put a chemical hand warmer in the muff and my hands are usually warm and toasty all day.
Mathew Eastman is a avid deer hunter and Northern Wisconsin Native.
Cold weather bow hunting tips:
- When the temps get below 40 degrees draw your bow and hold it then let down every 20-30 minutes to help keep your muscles warm and stretched out. Standing also helps keep you warmer.
- Take the first good shot you have at that spookey buck. Waiting for him to come just a few yards closer or turn just right for the shot and he'll be gone.
- Hunt the second rut. Around December 5th to the 15 give or take a few days does that were not successfully bread come back into estrous and you have a good chance of seeing a buck during the day. It can be cold but it is often worth it. Hunt the same areas you did during the first rut.
- Hunt the swamps and pines. Deer congregate in these areas when the weather gets cold. The thick pines covered with snow are warmer and provide great bedding cover. The temperatures inside a pine thicket can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees warmer then they are in the open hardwoods.
- Hunt the ground. When the temps really drop you are often better off hunting a ground blind near a food source or natural funnel. You'll stay much warmer and won't be so exposed as sitting in a tree that has lost all it's leaves.
- According to whitetail deer researcher Lenard Lee Rue the 3rd snow and rain dissipates your scent molecules and on cold dry days the mucous lining of a deer's nose is not as receptive as usual, so it is less likely to smell you.