When stifling heat threatens a hunt, don these duds and don't sweat it.
Sitting in a hide in Namibia, dressed in nothing but black silk skivvies, I felt a little stupid.
Baking under the African sun, without a breath of wind, the hide felt like a barbecue grill with the top down. Beads of sweat raced down my skin but not just because of the oppressive heat. A physical and mental standoff with a large Burchell's zebra stallion contributed to the rivulets. I wanted that stallion -- bad.
From the time I first saw the herd until the stallion finally walked in for a drink at the waterhole, two excruciating hours had passed. The mares and foals were extremely nervous and hesitant to approach the water, but the stallion made them look careless.
Even as he drank, facing me, he was wired to explode. Finally, when a tiny bird flitted to the water's edge, the zebra bolted to a broadside position, and my arrow was gone. The gorgeous stallion was mine.
As I spoke into the lens of my camcorder, my voice cracked with excitement. After watching the footage later, I discovered I was right -- I did look ridiculous! Still, considering the conditions, I was as cool as humanly possible.
Whether it relates to a broiling August antelope blind or stalking a mule deer in 100-degree heat, hot-box hunting requires special consideration. First and foremost is personal hydration. Even sitting still in a blind can dehydrate you, and hiking in the blazing sun is especially tough on your body. You can't drink enough in those extreme situations, so you must carry plenty of water in a hydration bladder or other reservoir.
Next in importance is what you wear. Heat stroke is a dangerous malady, and you must be able to shed layers so your body can expel internal heat through radiation and evaporation of perspiration. Once you get down to the last layer, you need a hydrophobic material that won't hold moisture but rather will allow rapid evaporation.
Some hunters still prefer cotton in hot weather because it does hold moisture, which prolongs evaporation and the cool feeling it yields. Personally, I don't subscribe to that philosophy because I can never predict the weather or length of my hunt.
For example, if I'm roasting on stand and then a front moves in, dropping the temperature and some rain, I don't want to be caught in wet cotton. Or, if I'm sweating while stalking a mule deer and end up pinned down in the chilly shade, I want to be dry. You're almost always better off if perspiration dissipates quickly -- as it does when you're wearing today's high-tech, moisture-wicking garments.
The following garments will dry quickly, sometimes in minutes, to assure that you will remain dry and cool under the most extreme conditions. If beads of sweat will be a constant companion on your next hunt, check out some of these garments.
The six-pocket pants have a quick-release nylon belt, and the legs zip off so you can convert the pants to shorts. Camouflage patterns available include Mossy Oak's Break-Up, Obsession, and Brush.
Contact: Russell Outdoors, 1-800-331-5624, www.russelloutdoorsgear.com
The new Walk-In Series of clothing with built-in ventilation fits the bill for warm weather hunting. The Walk-In Shirt has moisture-management fabric under the arms, in the middle of the back, and on the shoulders for those times when you're wearing a backpack in hot weather.
The Walk-In Pants feature the same material in the gusset, plus mesh panels behind the knees. Plenty of pockets -- some with magnetic closures -- help you keep track of all your gear. This line is available in Mossy Oak Treestand or Realtree AP HD.
Contact: RutWear, (662) 895-3651, www.RutWear.com
To minimize your scent in warm weather, go with a lightweight, carbon-based garment like Scent-Lok's new Savanna EXT outfit. Lighter by 25 percent and quieter than previous garments, the EXT series is also more breathable for sultry days in the field.
A ClimaFlex inner lining makes this outfit comfortable, even as your only layer. An antimicrobial treatment kills odor-causing bacteria to supplement the carbon technology. Camo options are Mossy Oak Treestand and Realtree AP HD.
Contact: Scent-Lok, 1-800-315-5799, www.scentlok.com
This company's well-designed line of high-tech clothing includes options for warm-weather hunting. The Core Zip-T, constructed of a material called Polartec Power Dry, which includes Silver Scent Elimination technology, doubles as a warm, early-morning top and a moisture-wicking layer when the sun bears down.
The Ascent Pants are built from a stretch polyester weave that conforms to your movements and feels as if it's custom sewn just for your body. The gussets and articulated knees eliminate binding no matter what position you find yourself in. Sitka Gear clothing is available in the new GORE OPTIFADE camouflage as well as Mothwing Mountain Mimicry.
Contact: Sitka Gear, 1-877-748-5264, www.sitkagear.com
Compression-fit HeatGear does an outstanding job of transporting moisture away from the skin and promoting evaporation. The HeatGear T comes in either short or long sleeves, and the LooseGear version is, well, looser, but still great for the hot box.
Under Armour's Camo Field Pants are constructed of 100-percent Nylour, a ripstop fabric that resists abuse in the field and dries quickly. These pants have strategic ventilation built into locations where body heat tends to build up.
Contact: Under Armour, 1-888-727-6687, www.underarmour.com