man skiing in snow with hunting gun

Don’t Let The Cold Win! | How To Layer Clothing For Winter

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing for the conditions.

While you might think you only need a warm jacket when venturing into the great outdoors to go hunting or fishing during the cooler months, there can be much more involved in keeping yourself warm and comfortable. 

man drilling hole for ice fishing

Hunting, fishing or camping in the cold weather requires a knowledge of how to best layer clothing so that you can stay warm.

When the time comes to plan your next hunting trip into the wilderness, take a moment to consider the following information, so that you can learn all about how to layer winter clothing to feel comfortable enough to explore all that nature has to offer. 

How to Remain Warm in the Great Outdoors

When you put on warm clothing to head outside, your goal should always be to manage moisture, maintain your heat level for comfort, and create a barrier between the elements and your skin. 

man walking to box stand in snow

You might enjoy being alone in the outdoors… you just don’t want to be COLD and alone!

Not all cold-winter clothing is created equal. So, purchasing high-quality outdoor garments from well-known companies like Kryptek and others is a critical component of remaining warm in the great outdoors, but it’s also helpful to understand the science behind retaining your body heat to know how to wear your clothing appropriately. 

mule deer standing in the snow

You may not have the anatomy of a deer to keep you warm in cold conditions, but you can learn to layer clothing in a manner that protects you from the elements.


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During winter, you’re often faced with many challenging elements, such as wind, rain, and cold temperatures. Heat is easily transferred from your body into the environment, and it’s easier to lose heat than it is to retain it. 

So, whether you’re ice fishing or hunting, you need to have knowledge of how sweat affects your body and heat levels. Body heat can be pulled away from your body much faster when it’s wet with perspiration than if it were dry. 


Prevent Moisture to Stay Warm

One of the best ways to stay warm, regardless of how you layer your clothing, is by being cold before you begin your hunting trip in earnest. If you add all your winter layers and then stand in front of a heater before venturing outside, you might start sweating and lose much-needed body heat.   

moisture

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to staying warm in colder weather, as it robs you of body heat.

So, as challenging as it might be to immediately venture outside to start hiking once you’ve put on your multiple layers, it can be essential for giving your body the best chance of retaining its heat. 



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Layer Your Winter Hunting Clothing Strategically

When you’re trying to dress warmly in cold weather, it can sometimes feel like you have to pack an entire closet full of clothing when you go on a winter hunting adventure or that you have to wear multiple layers until you’re no longer comfortable.

However, if you apply the right layering strategy, you might be surprised at how easy it can be to prepare for an outdoor trip

Before heading out, read up on the weather conditions you can expect. This allows you to take all necessary precautions with supplies and provides insight into the type of clothing you need to take with you and what to wear when you set off. 



You’ll need to continually layer up and down on most hunting trips. Take note of how your body is feeling, and when you’re feeling too warm, take off a layer before you start sweating. 

If weather conditions change and rain or snow sets in, you can add more layers from your hunting backpack, including a waterproof jacket to keep your mid layers warm and retain your body heat. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so you may be layering up and down throughout your hunting trip. 


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Adopt the W.I.S.E System

If you’re new to hunting, it may not be immediately apparent which clothing you should buy to remain warm, dry, and comfortable.

However, you might have a much easier shopping experience when you familiarize yourself with the W.I.S.E system. This system involves:

  • Wicking – Next-to-skin base layers
  • Insulating – Mid layers, such as fleece or a down jacket
  • Sheltering – Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Extra – Additional layers in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected snowstorm  
layering WISE system

The W.I.S.E system will give you a fundamental understanding of the basic garments to purchase, but don’t forget to buy wool socks, waterproof boots, hats, and gloves. 



Choose Your Base Layer

Now that you’re aware of the garments you require for the W.I.S.E system, you can learn more about each layer and how it contributes to your overall warmth, dryness, and comfort.

A base layer is a snug-fitting set of garments designed to wick sweat away from your skin to keep you dry. 

base layer

When choosing a base layer, go with wool, silk or synthetics, rather than cotton (photo credit: Wikihow.com)

While cotton can be a preference for everyday wear, it’s less suitable for outdoor activities like hunting.

Instead, opt for base layers featuring wool, silk, or synthetic fabrics. Your top base layer can be a long or short-sleeve shirt and leggings with these materials, paired with a high-quality pair of synthetic or wool socks. 



Choose Your Insulating Layer

Equally as important as your base layer is your insulating layer. This layer prevents the outdoor environment from taking your much-needed body heat.

insualting layer

The insulating layer will help maintain valuable body heat while in the cold weather. (photo credit Wikihow.com)

Typically, you would wear a wool or microfleece top, a puffer jacket, and fleece leggings. You can also pair your insulating layer with a wool or fleece hat and neck gaiter, glove liners, and insulating socks. 



Choose Your Sheltering Layer

If you are going on a hunting or fishing trip, you certainly like to see favorable weather conditions. However, weather conditions can certainly change, and sometimes rapidly.

sheltering layer

Wearing a sheltering layer is critical in protecting the insulating layer underneath. (photo credit: Wikihow.com)

You might be caught out in the rain or snow when you least expect it, and you need to protect your insulating layer at all costs.

Pack a sheltering layer, and you can be prepared for any eventuality. Typically, this layer consists of a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket, both of which need to be waterproof to remain effective. 



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Best Materials for Winter Outdoor Clothing

When there are so many different types of outdoor and hunting clothing for sale, it can be hard to know what will be the most comfortable and practical. While there are many desirable options, some stand out more than others. 

For example, merino wool, a natural fiber sourced from sheep, is a moisture-wicking base layer that is odor-resistant and temperature regulating.

snow on evergreen trees

When adventuring outdoors in colder weather, merino wool is a great moisture wicking base layer that is also odor resistant.

You might also consider synthetic fleece as a mid layer option, which is both affordable and warm. Although, it’s not an ideal wind-resistant layer. 

Synthetic and down jackets can be an effective insulating mid layer, while nylon is ideal for keeping you dry. Some manufacturers create special membranes for nylon to form waterproof jackets for winter use. 



Final Thoughts On Layer Clothing For Cold Weather

Layering winter clothing is an integral part of preparing for any outdoor adventure or hunting trip.

so, before you begin planning your next trip, take the time to make sure you’ve got a full closet of winter options to keep you warm, dry, and protected from the elements.

Remember the W.I.S.E. system and have fun outdoors!

wild turkey gobbler

Beards, Feathers and Snoods, Oh My! | Anatomy Of A Turkey

The wild turkey is a complex creature and has some anatomical features that are pretty peculiar. Many hunters may not know what some of these features are and how they help a turkey survive in nature.

So, let’s take a closer look at the anatomy of the wild turkey.

Eyes

If you are an avid turkey hunter, you are likely aware that this bird sports some powerful eyesight and can detect a turkey hunter with ease if they are not properly concealed and camouflaged.

Unlike us human hunters, the wild turkey possesses monocular periscope vision.

turkey eye

Turkeys have powerful eyesight, nearly a 360-degree field of vision, and each eye can move independently of the other.

Monocular periscope vision allows the eyes of the turkey to act independently from one another, allowing them to scan for potential threats in two different directions simultaneously.

Turkeys also have eyes situated on the sides of their head and not in a forward-facing direction. The positioning of the eyes and the independent operation they are capable of means that turkeys have nearly 360 degrees of viewing range.

turkey eyes and ears diagram

The ears of a turkey are located right behind the eyes.

The eyes being able to scan so much of the immediate area around them means they can pick up the slightest movements with ease and is one of the reasons they are so challenging to hunt.



Ears

Like all birds, the turkey doesn’t have any external ear features, and their ears are essential, just holes in their head directly behind their eyes.

The ears of the turkey feature pinpoint hearing, and if you have ever called in a turkey from a long distance, you will have observed how they can pinpoint the exact location of the sound and track directly to you.

a turkey's ears

Turkey’s have an uncanny ability to judge distance with their ears.

Despite not having external ears that serve as a sort of “radar dish” to detect noises from a wide range of directions like a deer, the turkey has hearing that can easily pinpoint the exact location of noise, and their brains will even register the distance of the sound from the bird.



Snood

The snood is an anatomical feature that a turkey possesses that causes most hunters to scratch their heads and ask, “what is that thing for?”

The most noticeable feature which has the fitting name of a snood is the familiar bright red lumpy area located on the throats of male turkeys.

turkey snood

A turkey’s snood helps to regulate body temperature, and in males, help to attract female turkeys (hens).

The snood serves a few different purposes for male turkeys, with the biggest being attraction to the opposite sex, with the bright ornamentation helping attract females for breeding.

This weird anatomical feature also serves another critical role for tom turkeys. It helps dissipate excess heat and helps regulate the bird’s body temperature on those hot summer days.



Head Coloration

The colorations of the head of a male wild turkey are to this day not fully understood, and the colors can change depending on the bird’s mood.

The Coloration of the head can change from blue to white to red, and the bird can do so based on moods like agitation, excitement, irritation, fear, and others.

turkey head coloration

A turkey’s head colors can change, depending on factors like fear, anger and during mating.

When it comes to mating, there will often be a prominent white coloration at the top of the head, and this occurs when a tom is approaching hens or, in many cases, a hunter or decoy that the tom thinks is a hen.




Beard

The beard of a tom turkey serves the same purpose as the coloration and snood, to attract hens. The beard of a tom turkey isn’t actually a beard at all but a modified form of a feather.

While males use it to attract hens, hen turkeys are also known to sport a beard, albeit on a rare basis. This has led some experts to not definitely hold the beard as a definitive in terms of its’ role.

turkey gobblers with beards

The beard of a make turkey has a texture similar to a thick monofilament fishing line, and is used to attract hens.



Spurs

One of the anatomical features of a turkey that is a trophy feature among hunters are the spurs.

turkey spurs

A turkey grows spurs on the back of each leg near the foot, and can be used for defense as well as for fighting.

The spurs serve two primary purposes for a tom turkey; it is the major form of defense for the bird, and hunters try to avoid them when retrieving a recently downed bird for this very reason.

Tom turkeys also use these spurs to fight other toms for the same reasons bucks or rams fight, to establish a hierarchy within the flock, as turkeys are social animals.

Just like the antlers of a buck, the spurs of a tom turkey can cause severe lacerations, cuts, and bruising, so be cautious when approaching a wounded tom.



Tail Feathers

The tail feathers are probably the most prized feature of a tom turkey among hunters, and both hunters and toms love to display them.

turkey tail feathers

A turkey’s tail feathers are the prize possession of turkey hunters.

The tail fan of a turkey serves a few purposes; it makes them look larger when they are fully displayed, which serves as a form of intimidation to other toms when fighting during the mating season and attracts hens.

The large tail feathers also serve as a rudder when flying, helping the bird control their direction of flight and helping them brake and slow down when they come in for a landing or when roosting in the trees at night.

turkey tail feathers rear view

Here’s a look at a turkey’s tail feathers from behind the bird.



Wings

Unlike other birds, a turkey will rarely use flight to simply get around due to being a relatively heavy bird and use flight for the purposes of getting up into trees for roosting and back down again.

But don’t be fooled, as a threatened turkey can kick into high gear and escape nearly any potential threat quickly by flying fast and low, albeit in relatively short bursts compared to other birds.

turkey profile shot showing wings

Although turkeys can fly, their wings are used primarily to fly up and down from their roosting locations.

The wings also serve a purpose in establishing dominance in the flock hierarchy, with “wing slapping” being a common way for toms to fight and work their way to the top of the pecking order.

turkey wings

during mating season, a male turkey will often “strut” with it’s tail feathers up and its wings pointed in a downward fashion

Wings also come in handy for dusting, which is when a turkey wallows down into dry dirt and ruffles its feathers to spread a fine powdery coat of dust on itself.

Dust baths keep the feathers of the turkey in optimum condition and are a part of their preening and plumbing maintenance, as the dust absorbs excess oils and moisture.

turkey feather dusting area

A turkey will “dust” its feathers, in an area like this, to keep their wings from being matted and to help prevent parasites and mites.

Dusting keeps the feathers of the bird from becoming matted and greasy and provides clean and aerodynamic feathers for maximum efficiency during flight, and also helps prevent feather mites and parasites.



Final Thoughts On Turkey Anatomy

The turkey is a very intriguing animal and a great resource for hunters.

Understanding details about the animals you pursue in the field will help you become a better hunter and will also give hunters a larger appreciation and understanding of the resources they enjoy.

So, whether you are a turkey hunter of just wanting to learn more about these amazing birds, we hope this article on the anatomy of a turkey helped you understand these amazing birds better!

hunting video gear

Start Filming Your Hunts | A Self-Filming Checklist

I sat there stunned at what just happened.

I had traveled 500 miles for this particular moment, only to sit and watch this big Kansas buck walk right out of my life.

And, it wasn’t because I didn’t have the opportunity to let an arrow fly.

I actually took aim, settled my pin, and painfully watched my arrow hit right in front of his body.

big kansas buck

When you film your own hunts, moments like this will be captured indefinitely to not only relive yourself, but share with others.

I could not believe my eyes! I’ve made that exact shot in my yard 10 out of 10 times.

As I sat there 20 feet up in that oak tree, trying to figure out what happened, I heard something behind me coming down the same trail. I turned to catch a glimpse of a wide Kansas buck heading my way.

I couldn’t believe this was happening so soon after I had missed the other deer.

This time, I was even more determined to settle my pins and connect on this nice Kansas buck! 

As I released the arrow, I watched intently as it found its mark and sent the buck bolting through the woods to certain death.



Finally, after two years of hunting in Kansas, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It was a very exciting moment for me, as I anxiously texted my hunting buddies… “Big Buck Down.”

What makes this hunt even more special is the fact that I got it all on video.

Videoing my hunts allow me the privilege to watch them anytime I want to.

With today’s technological advances, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get started filming your own hunts. Keep reading for two things that you will need to get started…

The scenario above happened almost a year ago. I went back and watched it five minutes before I wrote this article.

When I’m having a bad season and not seeing very many deer, I can always go back and watch the moment I killed my first Kansas buck.

Talk about a very rewarding experience.



First thing you need to film your hunts: Video Equipment

Choosing the right equipment is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle for creating quality footage of your hunts. This equipment can be as expensive or as cheap as you would like, depending on what you are after.

Let me just assume that most of us are on a limited budget but would still like pretty good equipment to capture our hunts.



The below list is certainly not all of the things that you could buy for filming your hunts. However, these are all of the things that you should buy for filming your hunts.

These pieces of equipment will help you be able to effectively tell your hunting story verbally and visually. 



There are five pieces of video equipment that are critical to getting started filming your hunts… and they won’t break the bank. Read on for specifics of each…

  • Camera
  • Camera arm
  • External microphone
  • Fluid head
  • Remote control

Video Camera

video camera for filiming hunts

The Canon 6D Mark 2 is a good camera for capturing your primary video while filming your own hunts.

Obviously, you cannot film hunts without a camera, but what camera do you choose? That’s a great question that gets asked often.

First, It is very important that you choose a camera that is “High Definition” and has good low-light capabilities. The high definition will help you have clearer footage and the low light capabilities will help you get a few extra minutes of film time in the morning and the evenings. After all, you never know when you’re going to see something so rare that you’ll wish you had footage of it later on.



It is also important that you get a camera that has an external mic jack. If you are self-filming, it is important for you to choose a camera that has a good auto focus setting.

We currently use a Sony Ax-53 ($800) and a Canon 6D Mark 2 ($1500.)

Secondary cameras are also a big help to capture extra footage, such as GoPro, Spypoint or Tacticam.




Camera Arm

fourth arrow video camera arm for hunting videos

It’s important to be sure you have a camera arm with enough length to film in some of the awkward positions hunting can put you in.

It wasn’t until a recent hunt that I realized how important stabilization was for a camera.

We were on a hunt and managed to forget the arm plate, so I had to free-hand film the hunt. A doe came into our location and circled around the tree and put me in an awkward position while filming.

When we watched the footage back on the TV, I was shocked at how shaky I was. This one experience made me even more of a believer in good camera arm.



It’s important to choose a camera arm that has some length to it. This will help when the deer puts you in an awkward position of filming across your body or around the back of your tree.

Fourth Arrow has some amazing camera arms that are affordable, ($100-$300) adjustable, and easy to use. Muddy also has some great camera arms that are reasonably priced ($100-$300) and easy to use.




External Microphone

rode external mic for filming hunts

An external mic will help you capture sounds from farther away than if just using the mic on the video camera.

Every camera you buy comes with a built-in microphone, and they work decent most of the time. However, they are just not as clear or as sensitive as they need to be when capturing the sounds of the woods.

There’s just something special about being able to hear the leaves crunching under the deer’s feet when you are watching your hunt on TV or on social media. You will hear a lot less of those types of natural sounds without an external microphone.



Another problem with not having an external microphone is when you put distance between the camera man and the hunter. An external microphone will give you a lot more range of distance than your standard camera mic.

It is true, most people will watch bad footage with good audio before they will watch good footage with bad audio. Rode Mics offer a variety of microphones for most cameras.

Trust me when I say, you will want to get an external microphone!

Fluid Head

sony 4k video camera for filming hunts and fluid arm and remote

The fluid head, as seen here attached to the tripod, helps you make smooth, controlled camera movements. The remote allows you to operate the camera with one hand, freeing up the other for your bow or gun.

Yeah I know, I thought the same thing when I heard about “fluid heads.”

So, what is a fluid head?

It’s an attachment that fits onto your camera arm that works by hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic fluid head allows you to make smoother movements with your camera. This creates better, higher quality footage for your viewing.

Pro Am has some very good fluid heads at reasonable prices. ($100-$300)



Remote Control

A remote control for your camera is very important, especially if you are self-filming. It enables you to basically do everything with one hand so you can use your other hand to grab you bow or your gun.

Most cameras have remote controls that can be purchased for them. I prefer to use the remote controls that are wired and plug directly into the camera.

Camera remotes are made to attach to your camera arm handle and can be a lifesaver when a deer walks into range. They help you minimize movement while your target animal is close.

Second Thing You Need: PASSION

hunting video equipment

Getting started videoing your hunts is not as expensive as you might think. There are many affordable options available for you to begin capturing those unforgettable outdoor moments.

Passion is nothing more than a strong desire for something. And, if you are going to film your hunts, you are going to need a strong desire to do so.

I promise you there are going to be moments when you will wake up and you are already late to your stand and taking time to get camera gear to the tree will make you even later.



Then, there will be times when you will forget pieces of equipment and the thought will run across your mind, “I don’t know why I even mess with this junk. I’m not doing this anymore.”

Possibly, even worse than that, you will have a big buck bust you because you were reaching for the camera instead of your bow. It’s during these moments that it will take passion to help you keep going.

To successfully film your hunts, the second thing you need is to have passion in the following three areas…

  • Passion for hunting: Passion for hunting is probably the most obvious one. You have to love the hunt! Passion for hunting is what is going to keep you in the woods experiencing all of the things that are film-worthy. If the idea of being perched up twenty feet in a tree with a bow in your hand anticipating a big buck coming near gets you excited, then congratulations, you have a passion for the hunt!
  • Passion for telling the story: I had a man tell me once, “You tell stories really good.” That’s because I have a passion about telling stories. When I tell a story, I want people to feel what I was feeling, hear what I was hearing and see what I was seeing. Being able to take your camera and video everything that you are experiencing in the woods is being able to tell your story. It gives the viewer an opportunity to see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. You will need a passion for that in order to overcome the difficulties that come along with filming.
  • Passion for new challenges: It is an understatement to say that filming your hunts is a challenge. It is actually beyond a challenge to be able to put it all together and film a successful hunt, but it sure is fun trying. One of the hard parts is learning all of the new things that make you better at filming your hunts. Anything from positioning your camera to learning how to edit your videos. Each one of these things can provide its own set of challenges, so you will need to be excited about learning new things. If you have a passion for new challenges then you are going to love filming your hunts.


 Final Thoughts On Self-Filming Your Hunts

There are so many more things that can be written on the subject of filming hunts.

The further you dive into the process more questions will come about camera equipment, editing, producing episodes for social media, etc. However, if there was one more piece of advice I could give you on this subject, it would be to remind you to have fun.

The camera is just a great way to share the memories of the love of the hunt, it is never meant to replace the love of the hunt. Sometimes the pressure of trying to get it all to work out on film can rob you of the fun of the sport of hunting.

Make up your mind before you begin the journey that you will always love the hunt more than you love the camera.

Casey Johnson of Huntreal Outdoors
Casey Johnson is the founder of Huntreal Outdoors. Follow their Instagram and you can also follow Casey’s story on his YouTube channel.