I carved out about eight days in early- to mid-November to hunt public land in northern Wisconsin this year. I knew it would be tough, but I also thought with enough time during the rut I'd kill a decent buck. What I didn't anticipate, besides the sheer amount of people in the woods with me, is that I'd be sitting in late-season weather.
My hunt started out normal enough weather-wise, but it didn't take long before a mass of arctic air drifted across the country and left northern Wisconsin sheathed in ice and snow. I didn't mind, because if anything is going to turn the rut action up a notch or three, it's brisk weather.
Although brisk is putting it mildly. I found one spot where I saw the largest buck I've ever seen on public land, and I decided to ride my time out in that area out in the hopes of running into him again. To be extra careful, I hung the stand at 20 feet in a small oak tree where the deer were using a fence crossing. It was as exposed as any stand I've sat. One morning it was four degrees and the wind was blowing 15mph. I sat for three hours before freezing out, and only made it that long because I was wearing the right clothes.
Maybe it's because I'm a native Minnesotan, but I maintain that clothing choice is one of the most critical aspects of being a successful bowhunter. If you're not comfortable, you're not hunting at your best. Or as long as you should. In fact, I think most of us would be better off buying top-quality clothing and a bargain-basement bow than the other way around.
Following are seven clothing options for the bowhunter looking to stay concealed, comfortable, and in the woods for as long as possible.
Sitka Gear Fanatic Jacket
Sitka Gear is crazy expensive, I get it. I've had the good fortune to use a fair amount of their stuff out west and in the whitetail woods, and I can safely say that it's almost always worth it. If you're a weekend warrior who only hunts a few times per season, maybe it's not. But if you live for bowhunting and plan your PTO around the best days of the rut, Sitka is a good choice for you. Their Fanatic Jacket is my go-to jacket for pretty much any time after November hits (sometimes before depending on how cold it is). This jacket utilizes body-mapped Primaloft Silver Insulation to trap body heat in and is designed to seal out the wind. It also features a built-in zippered muff, which is a finger-saver.
Cabela's Instinct Lock Down Boots
Let's say you want to wear super comfortable leather boots, but want the benefits of knee-highs? The best option for this conundrum is Cabela's latest, the Instinct Lockdown Hunting Boots. These 20-inch tall gaiters are constructed of 900-denier nylon, are waterproof, breathable, and fit snugly. If one-stop shopping is your thing, Cabela's offers these with either a seven- or a nine-inch internal boot. The latter is built with 1200-gram PrimaLoft insualtion and weighs four pounds per pair.
Scentlok Full Season Taktix
ScentLok has created an awful lot of top-notch clothing over the years, but they've never released anything quite like the new Taktix lineup, which includes a jacket and pants. Both utilize ScentLok's Carbon Alloy and NeverWet superhydrophobic technologies to keep bowhunters from getting winded and/or soaked during all-day whitetail sits. They are also articulated to allow for the kinds of movements bowhunters need to make, feature a ton of well-designed pockets, and are offered in several popular camouflage patterns.
PNUMA Tenacity Hunting Pant
PNUMA is a newcomer to the hunting-duds scene, but they've already amassed a solid following thanks to products like their Tenacity Pant. These pants are lightweight and very comfortable, but are also some of the most durable hunting clothing I've ever used. In fact, they are guaranteed for life if that gives you any indication of how rugged these pants really are. They feature a self-adjusting waist for a perfect fit, reinforcements throughout, eight pockets, and quiet rubberized snaps. I don't know who designed them, but I do know that person was, without question, a bowhunter.
Under Armour Mid-Season Wool Jacket
Part of UA's Mid-Season Kit, their Mid-Season Wool Jacket is ideal for days when the temps are anywhere from about 30 to 60 degrees. The Wool Jacket is created from UA Threadborne Wool to keep you protected from the elements and comfortable throughout your sits. It also utilizes UA Scent Control Technology, is designed with an archery-engineered swoop collar, and is offered in Under Armour's very own Forest Camo.
LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro GORE OPTIFADE Elevated II
Sitka's Elevated II whitetail pattern has found its way to some of my favorite boots. I wear knee-high rubber boots as late in the season as I possibly can for one reason - I can spray them down with the right scent eliminator and keep deer from knowing where I've walked. I know some hunters don't believe that's possible, but I've messed around quite a bit with solid bird dogs and this is one of the few ways to beat their nose. And if it beats a well-bred, well-trained Lab's nose, it'll fool a deer. For rut hunts and beyond, I choose the 800G Thinsulate version and pair it with quality wool socks and a pair of chemical toe warmers. These boots are super comfortable, fit like a glove, and are the warmest knee-highs I've ever worn.
KUIU Super Down Pro Hooded Jacket
KUIU is creating some serious mountain hunting gear, but that doesn't mean the average whitetail hunter can't reap benefits from their duds. For example, their Super Down Pro Hooded Jacket is crazy warm yet weighs only a shade over 13 ounces. That means you can stuff it into your daypack for the long walk to your stand, and then throw it on once you're ready to settle in. This 100-percent nylon jacket is stuffed with premium goose down to keep you from tapping out to the cold.