Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Staying Waterproof While Hunting

Yesterday I went deer hunting on a perfectly miserable day. A recent cold front was passing through, with highs around 48, rain, and 15 mph wind with 30 mph gusts. It was not a good day to hunt, but I only had access to the land for two days. I knew it was going to be wet and chilly, so I dressed accordingly. I wore Frogg Togg waterproof pants, a waterproof coat made by Arctic Shield, and rubber boots. I unfortunately do not have any waterproof gloves, so I chose a pair of regular mid-weight gloves. I could just keep my gloved hands in my jacket pockets. That would keep them dry, right?


As careful as I was, I made some mistakes and came home fairly wet. Not as wet as usual, but still wet. I did learn a few things about staying waterproof, though.

  1. Wear waterproof gloves. This was the beginning of my problems. My idea of keeping my hands in my pockets worked well for the first couple of hours, until it really began to rain hard. In the hard rain my jacket pockets, held open by my hands, started to fill with water. After a short amount of time my gloves became saturated and worthless. Had I worn waterproof gloves I would have been able to hunt a couple hours longer than I did.
  2. Do not expose your base layer to the elements. I always wear a base layer. It is comfortable and does a great job of wicking away sweat. My jacket has neoprene cuffs that Velcro tight, keeping out water. They work great! I can actually put my arm in water while wearing it without getting wet. It was dark when I put on my jacket and I unknowingly tightened my cuffs around my base layer, leaving a tiny amount exposed at each wrist. The base layer did exactly what it is designed to do, wick moisture. It wicked moisture from the rain all the way up to my armpit.
  3. Wear your hat under your hood.   The combination of neck gaiter, stocking cap, ball cap, all under a hood normally keeps me snug as a bug. However, because I had to wear blaze orange I had to place the ball cap over my hood. This tore up the dynamic entirely. For starters, it kept pushing the stocking cap over my eyes. Instead of directing the rain away from my face, it somehow caused the rain to drain into my gaiter. Instant water neck. (This is off subject, but a wet gaiter is very hard to remove.) To top it all, the ball cap would not stay on in the wind. I'm not sure how to remedy this....
  4. Don't use the pocket access panels in your rain gear. I had to produce ID to gain access to the land. To do so I unbuttoned the pocket access in my rain gear's pants. I either forgot to button them back or they came unbuttoned. As the rain ran down my leg, a little funneled into the pocket access getting my hip and butt wet. Remember how base layers wick moisture? I was wearing a base layer on my legs too.
  5. Waterproof your muzzleloader. I assumed that since I was using a sabot in my muzzleloader the powder would remain dry. I thought the sabot would fit so tightly that any water which ran down the barrel would not get past it. Wrong again! When I removed the charge that night my powder was a wet mess. I guess it is a good thing I went home early. I wouldn't have killed anything with wet powder! They sell caps for the end of your muzzleloader that keep the rain out. I guess I'll have to get some.

I did do some things right. My feet stayed dry and warm. I wore rubber boots and draped the legs of my rain gear over the boot tops. I stayed mostly warm despite being wet because I did not wear cotton. The Arctic Shield jacket I purchased for this season did a great job of keeping me dry. It was my own mistakes that let the water in.

To be honest, I believe I could have hunted through the day If I had waterproof gloves. Although, I don't think it would have mattered. The deer were not moving. I didn't even see song birds. The weather was just too nasty.

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