Deer hunters generally know their gear when it comes to hunting in cold weather, and I’ve written a few times on the topic in this blog. What a lot of outdoors enthusiasts don’t realize is your outside is directly affected by your insides, and you need a plan there, too.
Frostbite and Frostnip are real pains
Certain bites and nips are good. Others, not so much.
What the hell is frostnip? Frostnip is real, common, and an early stage of frostbite usually on the nose, ears, cheeks, fingers and toes. The skin appears red and usually has a burning or tingling sensation. Frostbite is more serious. The skin feels firm and looks white but the tissue underneath remains soft and mushy. If you don’t go inside before it gets really bad, deep frostbite can cause skin discoloration and blister with permanent damage to those parts.
Alright nipped and bitten? Get yourself some warm water (about 100 degrees should do the trick—do not use hot water) and soak your skin. And it’s a hands-off sorta thing, no pun intended, so don’t massage or rub those frostbitten parts.
All other parts are free game. Insert wild smirk here.
Watch for the “-umbles” of Hypothermia
Gear can only keep you so warm, so be smart out there and dress appropriately for the weather.
Keep an eye on yourself and fellow hunters and watch for the ‘-umbles:’ stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles which show changes in motor coordination and levels of consciousness. It could mean you’ve got a case of hypothermia on your hands.
And if it cold enough to freeze the nuts off a bear, just stay fireside and take a nap with your favorite canine.
Keep your eyes hydrated
The cold outdoors can wreak havoc on your eyeballs. Basically the harsh changes in temps cause your eyes to produce less tears or tears of poor quality. The cold, dry air (and the dry air from kicking up the t-stat inside your house or cabin) can make your eyes itch and burn too.
I keep a small bottle of eye drops in my hunting bag and jacket pocket for dry-eye emergencies. Just make sure you store these in a warm place after the hunt to avoid freezing your artificial tears. And when I have a vehicle to drives me back to camp from the woods, I make sure the heater vents are blowing toward my feet, not my face.
Got a bigger dry eye problem? Try adding some omega-3 fatty acids with a supplement, tuna, salmon or walnuts. I take a daily supplement of salmon oil that contains all 8 types of omega-3 fatty acids (yes, there are a total of 8 which not many people realize) and eat a can of white albacore tuna once a week. Not sure where to get vitamins like this? Hit me up and I’ll help you out.
Bad ingredients for a long day of deer stalking
It’s all too easy to become a couch potato during winter months. And for many, hunting season brings on the hearty meals and beer koozies.
But if you get lazy with your level of activity in the winter, you’ll not only pack on weight, but your hunts will suffer. Inactivity means muscle weakness, bad moods, headaches, and fatigue—all bad ingredients for a long day of deer stalking in cold temperatures, sitting ‘frozen’ in a deer stand, or battling the burling winds of -40 in Ontario.
And nobody wants to hunt with a tired grumpass.
I hit the gym on a regular basis to keep my muscles strong and in shape. I switch up my workouts between weight lifting, resistance bands, and running to keep things interesting. And I’m very serious about diet and the vitamin supplements I take to keep things at peak performance.
If you have no desire to go to the gym, you’re looking for some lighter activity, or find working out boring, ponder these options:
- Bundle up and go for a ½ mile walk around the neighborhood
- Take your sad-eyed, under-exercised canine friend for a long-anticipated walk
- Walk for 30 minutes at the mall for exercise – not shopping
- Try a winter sport like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or snowshoeing
- Try an indoor activity like a spin class, roller skating, or walking on a treadmill
- Check your local gyms or rec centers for adult leagues and activities
- Skip the elevator every time and take the stairs
The key is to find a physical activity that is both enjoyable and interesting to you so you stick with it.
Lizard skin looks cool—on a lizard
Any female ever look at you and say, “Your dry, wrinkly face is so hot.”
I’m layered-up in base layer when I’m hunting in cold temps, but often times my hands and face are exposed. Harsh winds, cold temps, and low humidity levels both indoors and out cause skin to crack, burn and itch. This leads to un-fun moments in and out of the woods.
You need to moisturize. This isn’t just a chic thing—dudes should do this too. Sure, men wear ‘age’ better than us ladies, but do you think that means we like a chapped arse? Not only will you keep your skin (and your lady) happy but you’ll be a warrior against Father Time’s wrinkle war – on your face and your butt.
For your face, find a good moisturizer or light-weight oil that’s made for eyes and face. Even just a light layer in the evening will be a huge improvement if you’ve never done so before.
What about your hands and body? It’s sounds like a granny lotion, but Gold Bond’s Ultimate Healing lotion (white bottle) for your hand and body is the ‘schnit.’ There’s almost no odor, goes on smooth, feels good on my skin, and isn’t that messy watered down junk. If you’ve got a serious cracked skin problem, I would try Gold Bond’s Triple Action (in the green bottle). It has a medicinal odor but it’s worth it if your hands are a reptilic disaster.
Vitamins and supplements work if they come from a good source
Having healthy joints and a strong immune system will help you in cold weather hunts. You should be, at minimum, taking a daily vitamin. Do you have joint problems? Boost up your level of salmon oil, glucosamine, zinc, silica and boron.
Know this: The mass-marketed vitamins with big brand companies are popular—not because they come from pure sources, or are healthy for you—but because they have huge marketing dollars to advertise and make their brand well-known. Most often, they get the ingredients from cheap, contaminated sources because it’s cheaper to produce. To boot, they do not balance the ingredients properly, so you end up taking more of one ingredient than you should, and not enough of another.
Why do they get away with it? Because vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so as long as brands don’t ‘say’ that it will ‘cure’ a particular disease, or ‘heal’ a particular ailment, they won’t get in trouble.
Example: Let’s look at omega-3s which are taken by millions of people every day. Did you know most brands only include 2 of the necessary 8 omegas in the bottle? Did you know there were 8? Most brands give you only 2, DHA and EPA, in unbalanced amounts and from a cheap, ‘unclean’ source.
Look for an omega-3 that has been screened for contaminants such as mercury and lead, comes from a pure and potent source such as salmon, and includes all 8 of these:
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DPA (docosapentaenoic acid)
- Stearidonic acid
- Eicosatrienoic acid
- Eicosatetraenoic acid
- Heneicosapentaenoic acid
- Alpha-linolenic acid
The key is to not falsely trust the mass-marketed brands on the shelves of retailers. I look at clinical trials, studies and the sources of where my vitamins are coming from before I take them. The vitamins I take are made from whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fish—from pure and potent sources with supporting research from the USDA.
Where to get the right vitamins: Not sure where to get vitamins like this? Hit me up and I’ll help you out.
Who knew a hunting blog would be a lesson in eyeballs, wrinkly ass and salmon oil?