I think we can all agree that bowhunting is probably one of the best outdoor sports you could possibly ever participate in, but as many hunters know, there are some obstacles that we are faced with that we just cannot control.
Hunting during seasons such as winter, fall, and summer can all come with their own downfalls, but as dedicated hunters, we must find a way to get around these obstacles so that we don’t end up missing out on our chances of catching good game.
Fortunately, there are little tips and tactics that we can use so that we are, in fact, ensuring that we stay cool. Bowhunting in the heat can be a nuisance and uncomforting when tracking down game, especially game that takes a lot more strategic hunting, but it can also cause health issues such as overheating or a heat stroke, so it’s best we do what we can to stay cool so that we are not victimized by the grueling sun.
Please take a look at this short guide and take notes so that you can beat the heat on your next bowhunting trip.
1) Spray Bottle On Hand
It seems simple enough but bringing a spray bottle can be a huge help when hunting for long periods, and short periods at a time. It doesn’t take long to become hot while you are outside in high and humid temperatures, so having a spray bottle readily available in case you need to cool down really quickly is important with preventing you from overheating.
A couple of sprays to the face can provide automatic relief and will be one of your best friends when it comes to hunting out in the heat. You might find that you are picking your spray bottle up quite often the more and more you start to heat up, so bring one huge bottle or multiple smaller ones. You’ll be going through spray bottles more than you might think.
If you want to keep the water in your spray bottle cool, it is recommended to freeze about a cup or half a cup of water (depending on the size of the bottle), and freeze it at the bottom of your bottle overnight right before your hunt. The ice at the bottom will act as a natural ice pack and will keep your water cold for a lot longer.
If temperatures are in the high 80s or higher, it is highly recommended that you pack a large spray bottle so that you are able to be more generous with your sprays when you decide to cool off.
2) Wear Thin Gear
This may seem like an obvious solution to prevent overheating, but when it comes to new hunters, it might not be. It is not wrong to want to gear up completely before going on a hunt just like you would any other time, but in the summer, this is a huge mistake, and you will soon find out why if you decide to do so.
Instead of wearing multiple layers like you usually would, for summer hunting, just use the layer that is closest to your body. This is typically the thinnest layer of clothing that you have on and will still provide you protection from the sun.
As far as trousers and accessories, I prefer shorts and a good pair of shades. Shorts allow air to flow through the body more easily and will give you more freedom to move around more comfortably without the annoyance of jeans rubbing against your legs. Jeans are a heaven-send in the winter, but in the summer they can become your worst enemy.
Your legs will be exposed to bugs and to the sun more if deciding to go with shorts, so bringing along some good bug repellent will help out a ton with this. Keeping a pair of shades will also help keep the sun out of the eyes while aiming down sights and will also protect them from any sun damage.
3) Carry A Gel Bottle
If you are anything like me, then you like to go big with anything you do. With that being said, pack your bag with a gel pack the size of a 2-liter bottle of soda, literally. Regular gel packs and containers do work pretty well if you’re at home trying to keep swelling down from an injury or broken bone, but when you’re hunting in the heat, you’ll want to go big.
If you don’t know what I mean by now, I am talking about making your very own homemade gel pack/container. The day before my hunt, I’ll take an old and empty 2-liter bottle, fill it up with water, dish soap, and rubbing alcohol, and then let it freeze overnight. This has been an extremely effective method I’ve used in the summer for keeping cool and recommended all hunters try it.
This homemade ice pack can last for hours on end and will be good at keeping food and other items in your bag cool as well. The alcohol and soap can have a strong smell to them, though, so make sure you keep the bottle closed at all times so that deer won’t be able to pick up on your location. They have a keen sense of smell and will spot you fairly quickly causing you to have a difficult time hunting them.
4) Keep Fluids In Your System
Staying hydrated is not only essential for keeping your body cool while hunting but is important for maintaining good health outside of it as well. Keeping water in your system will cool you down for bowhunting by having more fluid to sweat out and will stop your body from getting way too hot.
Overheating and even strokes can happen when there is an insufficient amount of water in the body and should not be avoided when you are out hunting in blazing hot and alarming temperatures. It is not recommended to even be outside when weather conditions are too hot, but if you plan on taking it easy while you hunt then keeping a good amount of water in your body is critical.
If possible, bring along a couple of gallons so that you can make sure you have more than enough water on hand. You cannot go wrong with too much water when you are constantly sweating it out, so be very generous with it.
Bowhunting can also take up a bunch of energy, so bringing along electrolyte tablets or powder will be good for restoring energy and keeping you nice and sharp when tracking down your next game animal. I have found it to be very useful to load up on electrolytes before and during the hunt. Make sure you are staying safe, though, and read the box for instructions on how much you should actually take.
5) Take Frequent Breaks
If you try to push yourself past your limits while hunting in the heat, then you may find yourself ending your trip a lot faster than you anticipated. When the sun is beaming down and your legs are getting tired from walking miles at a time looking for a game, you will get tired, and you will want to take as many breaks as possible.
Time can be of the essence when it comes to hunting, but losing an animal isn’t nearly as important as retaining your health. There is absolutely no shame in having to stop and cool down frequently, so take as many breaks as you want. If you find yourself taking too many breaks, though, then it is probably best to pack up and come back on a cooler day.
If you take into consideration the other tips, you should be able to recover while on your breaks a lot more quickly. The best thing to do while on your break is to take all of your heavy gear off and use your spray bottle or gel pack to speed up the cool-down process. The sun can be unforgiving even while sitting still so use what you have available and show Mother Nature who’s boss.
6) Shade Hunting
I know, the sun can be very relentless when it comes to us hunters, so we have to find some way to get away from it. If you’re a hunter then most likely you’ve been traveling on foot for a very long time. This is fine and could be very beneficial to your health under the right weather conditions, but when you’re in weather closing in at 100 degrees, it can make you feel like you’re walking through the Sahara Desert.
A good way to avoid being blasted by the sun is to find cover in some shade. If you haven’t spotted any game in a while and don’t have the slightest clue of where anything to hunt is, then taking a short break and working your bow underneath a tree won’t do any harm or cause you to miss out on much.
I’ve had game pass me up while hunting underneath a tree a few times while hunting, so really it’s a win-win for you and can only be beneficial when hunting up into the hottest hours of the day. Setting up a ground blind or tree stand in a location where shade is will also be a smart thing to do if you plan on traveling and camping out on the same trip.
7) Take A Look At The Forecast
If you want to know what weather you’ll be facing before a hunt, then it’s best to check the weather beforehand. This will help you determine how hot it is currently and how hot it will be throughout the day as you hunt. It will also help with planning ahead and letting you know exactly how much equipment you’ll actually need for cooling down.
Hunting in the heat is one thing, but if your forecast is showing rain then this could cause a whole different level of heat. Rain can be great for keeping you nice and cool for the time being, but after it is over it will cause a ton of humidity. This can cause more discomfort and can make breathing more difficult for those with medical conditions, such as asthma.
Properly assess the weather before you leave the house or cabin so you know what the best time to hunt will be and so that you know a little bit about what you can expect as you hunt. We may not be able to beat the heat completely, but we can be smart about when we take it on.
Sometimes I forget what the forecast was a few hours after checking it, so having a handy weather app on my phone helps out a lot with making sure I remember it.
8) Keep Ground Blind Cool
A lot of humidity can build up while you are in your ground blind, so having a portable fan will be a huge lifesaver when it comes to reducing this. On extremely hot days, I’ll pack up two. This may be overkill for some, but at least I know I am staying nice and cool.
Another way to reduce the heat in your ground blind is by placing it underneath a big tree or shady area. Next to having water on hand, the shade will be your best friend, so get stationed up around an area where there are tons of it to keep cool. Setting it up anywhere else can cause feelings of being overheated.
The hot air can cause you to work up more body odor, trapping the smell into a ground blind, so make sure you have a scent blocker or a change of clothes in your bag to help with staying undetected by deer. Depending on how hot it is on the day of your hunt, your fan can help a lot with keeping sweat levels down.
If you feel the shade isn’t enough and that your fan just isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, though, then exit the blind. It’s better to be out in the open exposed to the wind than to be trapped up in a stuffy ground blind.
9) Don’t Stand Directly In The Sun
It is one thing to hunt when it’s hot out but to just flat-out stand in the sun is another. If you plan on being on foot a lot, then the best thing you can do is stay out from under the sun’s rays. Trees will provide small patches of shade while you travel, so take advantage of these areas as much as possible.
Standing in the sun for too long can cook you faster than venison on the grill and will cause you to catch a nice little sunburn a lot quicker. Hunting in the heat is difficult enough, so adding the extra pain of dealing with a sunburn afterward will only make mistakes that much worse.
Also, being in the sun can hinder your view and make watching things around you harder, and when bowhunting, this is a bad thing. You want to be alert as much as possible so that you don’t cause any harm to yourself and also so you can always be on the lookout for that next kill.
If you’ve unintentionally found yourself standing directly in the stand for too long then cool off, take a break, and get back to it. You’ll need the break for the rest of the trip.
10) Avoid Running Too Much
Running is already a quick way to run out of energy, even if you’re not hunting in extreme heat, so doing this while you are can make exertion ten times worse, ten times faster. If you want to prolong your trip and spread your energy out across many hours, then avoid running as much as possible.
You will experience excessive sweating, and overheating, and cause yourself to go through more water than you should. So, if you want to avoid this, then take it slow. Your energy is precious during a hunt, so use it wisely.
11) Keep It Short
If temperatures are too extreme or too hot for you to handle, then it is probably a good idea to either cut your hunting trip short or just stay home altogether. Keep in mind that there are always other days to hunt and that you can always get back out there if you feel like you didn’t have a good one.
If you feel yourself pushing yourself way farther than you should then it is best to just pack up and call it a day. Bowhunting is supposed to be a fun experience and should not be ruined by a potential heat stroke or dehydration.
Heat can be a very dangerous thing to deal with if you don’t have the right supplies or do not take the right steps in order to stay cool while you’re out in the field. It can call for a horrible trip and can even put you in a life-threatening situation depending on how hot it is.
So, it is important for all hunters of all ages and sizes to do what they can to prevent this. The heat is not something to take lightly and should be something that is prepared for well in advance of your hunt.
Be generous with the supplies you bring and utilize safe practices so that you are ensuring your safety all while staying cool.