With the first snow coming down across the country, predator season is finally in full swing and now is the time to gear up for some snowy adventures hunting the hunters. Young coyotes are still roaming around and pursuit season for bobcats and or lions is open in many states with the full season opening for bobcat hunting here in Oregon in less than two weeks. Now is the time to evaluate gear and get outside and get to hunting.
Oooh baby its cold outside…
When temperatures dip to sub-zero, dressing in layers is critical, especially when doing any hiking in rough terrain between call sets. Start with a merino type base layer and build out from there, if it is really cold, I will stack on several base layers under a mid-layer pant.
I like my mid-layer top to be fleece as it is warm and dries out fast if I happen to fall in a snow bank and get it wet. ;-) My favorite jacket for a mid-layer warmth builder in cold weather is the Cabela’s Primaloft Trail insulator jacket. Primaloft is warm, even if it gets damp and dries out fast plus it is light weight and compresses down. Wearing a vest is my favorite way to add warmth over my fleece top or insulator jacket without the bulk.
Always wear an outer layer that is waterproof even if conditions seem dry as weather conditions change quickly in winter months and most waterproof layers double as a great wind barrier. Ladies be sure to check out OutfitHer from Cabela’s.
Snow gators will help keep the snow from tumbling into even the tallest of boots and help keep your feet dry should you encounter any creek or water crossings along the way.
Bring along AT LEAST two pairs of waterproof warm gloves. Gloves get wet in snowy conditions easily and you will be thankful that you have an extra dry pair or two as the day progresses.
One beanie on your head and an additional one in your pack is ideal which is light weight, low bulk, warmth insurance. I keep my extra gloves and an extra beanie in a gallon zip lock bag to prevent them from getting wet in the field.
The Shemagh has been used by our military for years and recently, I have incorporated it into my hunts. Kryptek makes a shemagh that will not only protect your face and neck from the cold, sun and elements but you can use it for many purposes like covering your rifle scope from the elements, shade the sun from your eyes while glassing, I have even covered my head with the shemagh while shooting to keep sand out of my eyes.
The Pinnacle BOA boot by Cabela’s is my go to boot in winter conditions. The boot is waterproof breathable GORE-TEX and tall enough to defer snow that is knee deep, insulated and the BOA system keeps my boot tight and on my feet without laces.
The NEW Instinct boot is GORE-TEX waterproof and has 400 GM Thinsulate Insulation, great ankle support and is STIFF for walking in steep, rough terrain.
Cold feet? Thermarest heated insoles, quickly and easily slip into your boots providing you with warm toasty heat during your calling sets. You can even turn off the heat when walking to save battery life and ensure that your feet don’t overheat.
Slipping & Sliding….
For pursuit hunting with hounds, a quality pair of crampons are a must in mountain terrain. Covering mountain miles without a good pair will wear you out! The added traction will make your hike slide free and much easier.
And for all the slipping and sliding that you might do, a trekking pole is a great add when navigating rough, steep, snowy terrain. If your buddies make fun of you for your stick, when they struggle up the mountain, poke it at them and just laugh. You will be thankful you have it and they will wish they had one too!
Mouth calls from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls are my favorite hand held. They have a selection of jack rabbit, cotton tail, rodent and fawn distress sounds. Coyote and wolf howling systems. You can even use a cow call diaphragm to make calf elk distress sounds.
If you are no expert with mouth calls, check out Cabela’s Outfitter Series predator call by FoxPro. It comes loaded with 35 sounds and you can customize by adding more sounds that you can download online. I like to use electronic calls because it moves the sound away from you as the shooter allowing for the predator to come within range without being seen as easily. BONUS: The Outfitter Series electronic call comes loaded with cougar and other fur animal sounds like raccoon sounds that are not easy to or even possible to replicate with a mouth call.
Decoys work because they give the predator a focal point to watch when coming in. Montana Decoy makes coyote, rabbit and fawn decoys that are realistic and give your call set life. Some states even allow moving decoys. Check your local regulations to see what rules apply to your state.
Cabela’s Speedy Yote Kickstand vest has pockets to hold all of your calls and give you a comfortable seat while in the field that insulates you against the cold ground.
A good quality backpack that you like will surely help tote along all of your necessary gear.
Kitchen…yes, I dare say kitchen while hunting. I am a girl for heaven sake so it is natural to bring along everything, except the kitchen sink (A gallon of water will suffice). There is nothing more delightful than a hot cup of coffee or lunch in sub-zero temperatures. MSR reactor stoves or Jet Boil stoves are light weight and boil water quickly so that you can dine on a hot lunch from Mountain House or sip fresh hot coffee, all day long. You can opt to put the kitchen in your pack or leave it at the truck. Either way, EVERYONE will enjoy. I promise.
Optics, Rifles and Such…
Good optics are a must have and will help you spot predators from distance allowing you the opportunity to place a well-planned out set without spooking them or alerting them to your presence. A range finder is a must have so that you can easily and quickly dial your rifle turret for point of aim, point of impact shots.
A tripod shooting rest or a hog saddle mounted on your tripod is a must when stand hunting for predators. It will allow you to stay comfortable and supported behind the gun throughout your entire set.
Don’t forget the small stuff that matters. Bring at least one extra set of batteries for your flashlight and predator call. The cold air drains batteries quickly. A few hand or body warmers remove the chill of the winter weather without adding bulk.
Your GPS with OnXmaps will provide valuable land owner information allowing you to access areas that you might not have known were public land.
Good hunting to you all…