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Gary Howey

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Staying Warm & Dry

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

November 23, 2019

   When hunting in the late fall and early winter, being comfortable; warm and dry is very important and this column will deal with just that.

  Each year, the clothing manufacturers come out with clothing that helps to make your trip into the outdoors during cold weather much more enjoyable, and with these advances in clothing, I think it’s not a bad Idea to go over the basics.

  In this column, we’ll talk about some clothing to more successful hunter.

  As I mentioned in previous columns, the best camouflage in the world does you no good, if you’re not comfortable and not able to sit still and if you aren’t warm and comfortable, there’s no way you can keep from moving around.

  Many times when you’re out hunting, you’ll sit on the ground or on some other extremely hard surface and not only are you uncomfortable; you’re cold.

  If you’re going to have to sit for an extended period, you have to be comfortable and this is why I carry a padded camouflage seat cushion with me while out hunting.

  Cushions don’t have to be anything fancy, just a foam pad that keeps your bottom off the ground. 

  Those that have a strap, allowing you to sling it over your shoulder will make them easier to carry in and out of the woods.

  The padded cushion I use, a NEP D-Wedge ThermaSeat  has a thick foam bottom and a padded back, which allows me to stay comfortable even while sitting on the hardest ground or in tree stand.

  Your cushion should be waterproof, insulating you from the cold ground and at the same time, not gaining weight and absorbing moisture off the ground.

  Rain suits no longer are bulky and noisy; the new ones are lightweight, quiet and can be rolled up and put into a bag the size of your fist.

  They store easily, out of the way and if it starts to rain, you can be in them and out of the weather in a heartbeat.

   Water-resistant clothing allows the hunter to stay warm & dry and not have to carry along an additional rain suit, as the waterproofing is right in the clothing.

  Anyone who has spent anytime in the outdoors knows how uncomfortable it can be when your feet get wet as, when your feet are wet and cold, your whole body is cold.

  Waterproof boots or some type of rubber boots are a good investment if you plan to do much hunting.

  They allow you to move through the wettest terrain and not end up with a boot full of water, wet socks and wet cold feet.

  Even if your leather boots are waterproof, to keep them that way, you’ll want to re-treat your boots after every couple of trips to make sure that they stay waterproof, because boots really take a beating in the outdoors, getting scuffed up which affects their waterproofing.

  To extend the life of your boots and to keep the wife from giving you heck because you tracked mud into the house, after coming out of an extended trip in the field, I take a damp rag and wipe down my boots, removing the mud and muck that accumulates on them.

  After they dry off, I’ll grab a hair dryer and warm the leather up, then I’ll rub in a waterproofing, then use the dryer again to make sure the waterproofing gets into all the cracks and crevices.

I’ll let them dry for a half-hour or so until the waterproofing starts to harden.

  Once this happens, I’ll grab a brush and buff them, removing any of the excess waterproofing left on the leather.

  This not only assures me that my boots will remain waterproof, it also treats the leather which makes my boots last longer.

  If your one of those hunters like me that hunt in all temperatures, layering of your clothing is a good idea.

  Layering your clothes allows you to add or remove layers as the temperature changes.

  If I’m going to be stand hunting in cold weather, my base layer will be pol-ypro which wicks the moisture away from my skin, then a heavier pair of jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, insulated coveralls,  an insulated parka, poly-pro glove liners and insulated gloves.

  When I have to walk into a tree stand, I’ll put my heavy parka in my pack and unzip the different layers, allowing the heat to escape and not soak up my clothing.

  Once on site, I’ll button up, be much more comfortable, and able to hunt staying warm and comfortable for the better part of the day.

  I’ll also do the layer thing with my feet, starting with a light pair of Poly-pro sock liners and then pull a pair of thicker Merino wool socks over the top of them.

  Not only will my feet remain warm; the thicker wool socks will help to cushion my feet.

  When it’s very cold, I also use the ThermaCell heated insoles and rely heavily on the hand warmers both the chemical and rechargeable units, with them in my pockets, gloves and in a hand warmer muff that I wear around my waist.

  Being comfortable is 60% of the game when your out because you aren’t going to see that big buck, gobbler or that huge flock of snow geese if you’re not in the field because you’re at the truck trying to warm up.

  Whether you’re hunting, ice fishing, and snowmobiling or just out in the woods, your experience will be much more productive if you’re warm and comfortable.

  Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb. is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide,  an award winning writer, producer, photographer and broadcaster, a recent inductee into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017.  Howey is also the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out, and like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on

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