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Into the Outdoors: Fighting the Wintry Blast

Before we get to our main topic, look at the photo. This is the same deer that was shown last week with a piece of antler protruding from its neck. As you can see from the huge lump, a massive infection has set in. I’m certainly no expert on animal health, but I have serious doubts that the deer will survive. Imagine if you shot it from a distance and then walked up to it. The sight and probably the smell would be horrible. Some folks would picture that every time they sat down to a plate of venison.


Now, for the main topic. I am extremely sensitive to cold, and it’s spoiled more hunting, and, for that matter, other outdoor activities for me than any other single factor. It has gotten worse as I age, and especially after my bout with Covid. It’s pretty hard to enjoy yourself and have fun when you’re shivering, your teeth are chattering, you’re covered with goose pimples and your hands and feet are either throbbing with pain or so numb you’re not even sure if they’re still there. Personally, I consider being cold to be a form of being in pain, and I hate it. Here are some ways to fight back against the wintry blast.

For many years, the insulating ability of goose down has been well known. Today, jackets, vests, socks, pants and entire suits insulated with this material are available. They offer a number of advantages. For one thing, they’re extremely light in weight. The price has come down a lot in recent years, too. Down clothing will indeed keep you warm, and is warm enough for many people. Probably the biggest drawback lies in the fact that down-filled clothing is pretty bulky. Also, if you tear the shell, you’ll lose some of the insulation. While down is often washable, there are certain precautions you must take, so read the label instructions carefully. All in all, though, it’s a good insulator, and a good value in outdoor clothing.

There are many man-made fillers available to outdoor folks today. Marketed under various brand names, they range all the way from really good to really bad, even worthless. Often, price is somewhat of a guide to quality. The really cheap stuff will probably leave you shivering, regardless of the claims made for it. Many artificial fillers are intended to replace natural down. Choose carefully when buying these. They do, however, have some advantages. They’re usually not as bulky as down-filled clothes, and they’re often easy to wash. Personally, I think they’re OK for hunting in warmer weather, but they just don’t cut it in the really cold stuff.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing warmer than good old wool. It’s the one material that has made it possible for me to hunt in the brutal cold. Without it, I would have to stay home a lot more. One of the neatest things about wool is that it is warm even when wet. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t care. I only know that I like it.

The disadvantages of wool are few and slight. Some people find direct contact with wool irritating to their skin, but usually about all you have to do is wear an undershirt or long johns between your skin and the wool. You also have to get wool dry cleaned, but not often, so it’s no big deal. If you really want to stay warm, wear wool. After all, have you ever seen a sheep shivering in the cold?

Footwear is also extremely important. Once again, I go with wool, in the form of socks and felt-lined boots. I have one pair that’s made for extreme cold. I must admit that they’re heavy, and they look like something Herman Munster might wear, but my feet have never gotten cold in them, and that’s enough for me. The same goes for gloves. Wool does the job, and does it well.

On another front, even though we’ve had some cold weather, I’m still picking the occasional tick off the outside cat. A friend got one in the dead of winter. Though not as prevalent in winter, you still have to watch out for the little bloodsuckers.

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