Are we crazy to hunt when it is too hot, too muggy, or under conditions that are just plain miserable?
Well, of course we are.
But, Mississippi hunters rarely let temperature, inclimate weather or other conditions — within reasonable limits, that is — keep them from pursuing deer.
Even if it is hot, we can find a way to deer hunt.
Common sense always has to prevail when it comes to hunting if environmental conditions are not prime for outdoor activity. However, deer hunters always need to be prudent. There are ways to keep cool in a stand when it’s insanely warm.
Deer hunting seasons in Mississippi can bring a host of varying weather conditions and wide temperature swings even during the course of a single hunting day, or easily within a week or so. The South is famous for getting channeled by changing weather and temperatures from October through February, the months of the Magnolia State’s deer hunting season.
Bow hunters in October in the first month of deer hunting are accustomed to hunting when it is miserably hot and humid. However, Mississippi can also see these unpleasant conditions continue at times on throughout the entire season.
Changing weather and wide ranging temperatures are something deer hunters have to face, especially hunting when it is too warm to really be comfortable.
Deer are able to adapt, so deer hunters have to as well.
Here are a half dozen common sense steps to help hunters acclimate better to unseasonably hot temperatures during deer season. Let the rest of the gang hang out at deer camp lounging under the cabin air conditioner. Don’t let hot weather even in the winter deer hunting months hinder you from pursing your favorite outdoor recreational sport.
Hunt the woods or shaded stands
“It’s a no brainer, but we set up stands deep in the woods as well as on the edges of food plots or crossover habitat areas,” said avid bow hunter Angelia Rustin of Laurel. “We like lots of options for lots of different modes of deer travel. Without a doubt the stands in the woods or otherwise shaded will be cooler than a stand out in the open even part way exposed to the direct sun.
“We also try to place our stands so they don’t face directly into the southern sun with options for morning and afternoon hunts.”
During the majority of the Mississippi deer hunting season the southern sun is going to beat down from a southeast to southwest angle. This means stands should face in a northern direction if possible. If that is not feasible because of the hunting set up, orientation to a food plot or other hunting area, then at least don’t position your stand due south directly into the sun.
Try to set your shooting houses or tree stands at any angle where the sun won’t be shining right into your face. If the stand has a roof, then maybe a larger roofline edge overhang can block out some of the sun. Shield yourself from the hot sun.
Dress for success
“I get kidded a lot by my hunting friends and even my husband, but I am not above wearing knee shorts when I deer hunt if I know it is going to really be warm that day,” Rustin said. “I have other girl friends that hunt, too, and some of them wear shorts all the time. Practicality dictates that you have to dress according to the temperatures even when it may be deemed too hot to hunt.
“Deer still move even when it gets warmer than usual, so you have to be prepared to dress for it. I hunt in stands that have camouflage covers or netting around the stand box, so it works out fine not to be wearing full camo under these kinds of conditions. I might also wear a sleeveless top, too, to stay a bit cooler on the stand.”
Today’s hunting garment marketplace is filled with extremely lightweight hunting t-shirts, short- and long-sleeved, and also pants. These new miracle fabrics wick away moisture from perspiration and even can help control scent dispersal. While cotton clothes are still good for warm weather use, try some of the new super fabrics on the market to see if they don’t keep you even cooler.
Consider wearing a mesh cap or hat that is cooler with a sunshade brim. Also pick shoes or boots that have air flow panels to help keep your feet cooler.
Hydrate to the Nth degree
If you have ever seen the movie Jarhead based on the Middle East invasion of Iraq, then you had to come away with at least one critical lesson from the entire movie — constantly hydrate. The troops had this essential element of survival in the desert heat drilled into their daily routines.
That’s not a bad foundation for deer hunting when it is overly warm, too. Take plenty of water to the stand and drink it.
I have a neoprene water bottle carrier that I put around my neck. I freeze the water bottle so it thaws slowly. The frozen bottle offers a cooling effect plus there will be water to drink as time on the hunting stand unfolds.
Use cooling aids
Numerous helpful products are on the market that can help keep you cool. Usually one might see these used by athletes, landscape workers, highway construction laborers and others that regularly work in hot weather. There is no reason that deer hunters cannot use them, too.
First on the list are the gel filled neck wraps or scarves that you ice down in the freezer. These melt slowly when worn around the neck and provide a cooling effect for some time.
Another simple device are the water spray bottles with a small battery powered fan on the top. Hunters can use them for a quick shot to the face and arms for a quick cool down. Slip one into your hunting backpack.
Also useful is a zip-lock bag filled with wet moisture wipes, just be sure to use the scent-free ones.
Eating a big meal before going out into the heat can leave you sluggish and feel the heat. that is easy enough to avoid if you pick foods that are light, and easy on the digestive system when you plan to hunt in the heat.
“When I used to work in food service for Valley Innovative Foods, I would tell my hunting friends to back off the biscuits and gravy for breakfast, then a double cheeseburger for lunch,” says Chad Holifield of Pearl. “If you have to have a load up meal, then wait until after you are done hunting, then eat some good protein beef or something.”
Overeating before you go hunt will not only make your internal body produce more heat, it will cause you to feel warmer on top of the external heat during the time in the stand.
Eat light, and drink plenty of fluids.
Timing is everything
Avoid hunting the hottest parts of the day. Even deer will tend to lay up once the temperature or heat index rises above a comfortable level. If ever there was a time to get up before daybreak to hunt the first hours of the day, it is days when the temperature is predicted to be overly warm. Slip into your stand when first light cracks the horizon and just stay a couple hours, because after that deer are just as likely to head for water, and the shade of a big cedar tree.
Likewise, creep into your woodland stand an hour or so before dark. Sure, these early and late times are the worst for being eaten alive by mosquitoes. So, wipe on some bug dope, or take a small canister of bug spray and use as necessary, again choosing brands that are made scent free for hunters.
Should hot days stop deer hunters?
Absolutely not, but you have to plan accordingly to make an effort to stay as cool as possible.
Put some of these cool down tips into practice and turn luck in your favor.