Well, the fall seasons are in; whether you are hunting the big woods for deer, the crop lands for pheasant or the woodlots for rabbits, planning your hunt, based on comfort, is critical to your success. I like to think of it as "dressing for success" and have a few tips that I hope will make your hunting experience successful.
A. Plan for the weather: I always check to local weather forecast to try to understand what I can expect during my days in the out-of-doors. While I agree the predictions may not always be correct, I do believe they provide a good base for planning how to dress for the time you will be spending. I grew up in the far Northeast and had an opportunity to return there two years in succession to hunt with family and friends. Both years my hunt was during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I went on-line and looked at the projected weather for the week I would be hunting and am thankful I did. One year the week we hunted was short-sleeved shirt weather while the next year it was snowing when I arrived and I'm not sure it ever really quit at anytime during the week. Not having at least looked at the weather forecast could have made for some very uncomfortable hunting days during those years.
B. Layer your clothes: While the day may start out cold, it could warm up considerably, especially in the South. I like to layer my outfits so that as the day warms I can remove layers to keep myself comfortable. With the new fabrics out today there are many options for layering in light layers that still provide warmth and comfort without bulk. My day pack always provides me room to put those layers removed in a safe place where they won't be forgotten. Layering also lets me remove layers when walking to my hunting site so I don't build up too much body heat and then freeze once in my stand. I start out with light layers while walking and then, when settled in, will add layers to prevent a chill that can lead to teeth chattering discomfort.
C. Wear the right footwear: To me there are two areas that I really pay attention to for comfort- the head and the feet. I'm particularly sensitive to keeping my feet comfortable. When the weather turns cold I keep a pair of "boot socks" in my pack. After walking to my stand I will wait to see if the cold hits my toes and if so will place the boot socks over my boots. Toasty toes allows me to stay as long as I want in my hunting place without getting the shivers. If stalking or walking edges, I want boots that are not still, but provide me great comfort. There are many brands out there and sporting goods stores like Academy will give you the opportunity to look at and try on boots before making a commitment.Nothing worse than paying for boots that end up not being used because they just don't fit your hunting needs.
D. Warm hands and head: This, to me is also a critical area to keep warm. Again, teeth chattering cold will quickly end your hunt. Long ago I started using a"muff" to keep my hands and fingers warm. The muff, available in your favorite hunting pattern, allows one to wear lighter gloves that makes the transition from keeping fingers warm to shooting no hassle. I also always have a few hand warmers with me and if really cold, will place a couple in the muff to help keep it warm. I also typically carry a nice warm head cover in my day pack. In the event I need extra warmth on my head I can slip on the extra head cover. I normally try to ensure my ears and face have protection from biting cold.
E. Prepare for wet weather: Again, today's garments offer great comfort. This includes those that protect you from the rain and snow you may face. Lightweight, water-proof outfits are readily available. If you layer properly you don't necessarily need a heavy-weight rain suit, but rather a light outfit that will slide on over the layers you already have on. This also helps ensure you're not packing a lot of extra weight back and forth to your hunting area.
Dressing for success can and will make your hunting and outdoor expeditions comfortable and successful. Wear the right clothes, plan for the weather, maximize comfort when walking and keeping your head, feet and hands warm will ensure you can enjoy your time afield. Be safe and have a pleasant fall. Viva la "cold weather".