By Pete Rogers
Darkness kept a strong grip on the early morning as I made my way to the first stand of the year.
It was August 15, opening day of deer season in South Carolina and an early entry to the stand was important to get settled while it was still fairly cool.
Cool this time of year is relative. The early predawn temperatures were in the low 80’s and the humidity hovered around seventy-five percent. I knew as the sun rose it would not be long before we were in the 90’s and it would become unbearable.
South Carolina isn’t the only state with early big game hunting seasons. In Wyoming and other western states, antelope season opens, and in Utah and Nevada, it’s early Mule Deer season. California has their very early Blacktail season to bring on the seasons.
Hunters all across the nation are getting after game in summer-like conditions. Whether you are chasing mule deer in the high alpine, antelope in the prairie or whitetails in the swamps of the southeast hunting in these conditions requires special preparation.
Below are some suggestions to help you succeed when the mercury is boiling out of the top of a thermometer.
First – Hunt the wind. Forget the promotion, marketing comments, and sayings that encourage us to “ignore the wind and just hunt.”
I guarantee you, whoever wrote that never hunted deer in August in South Carolina or antelope in Wyoming in early September. There is no way to sit on a stand and not sweat – a lot!
Second – Dress appropriately. How can one have full concealment while sitting in triple-digit temperatures?
Just as buying the best clothes for winter hunting, do not skimp on your hot weather hunting clothes. Modern apparel has improved so well that it is worth the expense for the comfort.
Top brands that offer heat gear have materials that will wick away perspiration and create a cooling effect. Sitka Gear’s Early Season Whitetail are some of the coolest clothes I have found.
They offer ultra-light pants and shirts for early season hunting. The clothing is light and breathes well with vents in all the right places.
Third – Stay hydrated. You need to find a way to hydrate prior to your hunt, and during your hunt if possible.
Backcountry hunters have the challenge of carrying their water with them. Many backpacks offer bladders or the ability to add a bladder to their pack. ALPS Outdoorz Extreme Traverse X pack and Commander + Pack system is well suited for this task.
These packs enable hunters to carry plenty of water for long days afield. The ability to store a half-gallon of water in a bladder and storage for several other bottles if needed make these great choices for backcountry hunters. If you are able to set up a camp near your truck and hunt from there it enables you to carry coolers of cold beverages. Both water and sports drinks can help with hydration.
Hunters who are sitting in blinds over water holes or food plots whether for antelope or deer or any other game, should always carry a small cooler with ice drinks with them to the blind to help stave off the heat and to stay hydrated during those long hot sits. The new Yeti Hopper Flip 12 is the perfect cooler for this occasion.
Fourth is Bug Repellant. Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than hordes of mosquitos.
Thankfully, ThermaCell is available and is a total game-changer. The ThermaCell mosquito appliance revolutionized hunting as much as the metallic cartridge. It made hunting possible again in warm weather.
There is no way, I repeat, no way I would hunt in the warmer weather without a ThermaCell appliance going full bore.
Lastly, is something I started doing about ten years ago. I carry a small battery-operated fan.
For treestand and ground blinds this is a lifesaver. The slight breeze can be a make or break proposition.
I have conducted several unscientific tests over the past several years and have seen that deer do not pay any attention whatsoever to the ‘white noise’ of the fan. It is small and makes very little noise. But this gentle breeze can make a huge difference in triple-digit temperatures.
The fan I use is from a big-box retailer and it is four inches square. It has two speeds and uses two D batteries. It will run for over 20 hours on these batteries. It cost $8.00 and is the best $8.00 you’ll ever spend. A dab of paint to make it blend in and it works wonders. This compact fan folds and sits at several angles to give you the perfect breeze from your stand or blind.
Hunting in the extreme heat poses a lot of challenges unique to the situation. Hunters who prepare and use some of these tactics will be more comfortable and more prepared for the early season.