How to Stay Warm (From the Inside) During Cold Weather Hunts

mcclain buffalo hunt McClain hunting buffalo in the Badlands during -45 degree temperatures.

 

South African wildebeest hunting in July? Cold. Ohio deer hunting in December? Bitter. Buffalo hunting the Badlands in March? Frostbite.

Hunters generally know their gear when it comes to hunting in cold weather. But how many of us prepare our bodies for cold weather hunting? Your ability to tolerate cold temperatures is not only affected by the gear you wear on the outside, but by the level of care you take for your insides. Let me explain.

Hunting season means hearty meals and beer koozies

It is easy to become a couch potato during winter months. And for many, hunting season brings on the hearty meals and beer koozies.

But if you get lazy with your level of activity in the winter, you’ll pack on weight and your hunts will suffer. Inactivity and poor diet lead to muscle weakness, bad moods, headaches, and fatigue—all bad ingredients for a long day of hunting in cold temperatures, sitting ‘frozen’ in a deer stand, or battling the burling winds of -40 in Ontario. If you keep your body healthy, you’ll make it much easier for your body to stay warmer longer during the cold hunting season.

I know it is not easy to stick to a healthy diet, so cheating is acceptable. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to drink coffee without coffee creamer. And I’m a huge fan of really good cheesecake. The key is moderation. Good foods make you feel good and give you energy. Bad foods make for bad moods and tired limbs. And nobody wants to hunt with a tired grumpass.

Remove these foods from your hunting pack

Here are foods you should really consider kicking from your diet:

  • Diet soda increases your risk of stroke and obesity
  • Frozen entrees are loaded with sodium and low in nutrients
  • Fat-free snacks and cookies mean high calories and high sugar
  • White bread, white pastas and potatoes have a high glycemic index which leave you feeling drained
  • Water with vitamins are often high in sugars or ‘added sugars’
  • Trail mix with yogurt-coated ingredients and trans fats
  • Snack and protein bars with brown sugar, corn syrup, and brown rice syrup

Women should have no more than 100 calories per day in added sugars. Men should keep it around 150.

sugar In her Scentblocker backpack, McClain carries snacks like peanuts, raisins, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cut up vegetables, easy-to-eat fruit, and plenty of water.

 

Use resistance bands to maintain your bow-shooting strength

You’ve seen those colored stretchy bands they sell at the store, similar to the ones they use in physical therapy with patients after surgery. You can very quickly and easily wrap these bands around a door knob and begin pulling on the bands to increase tendon and muscle strength. Replicate the backward motion of drawing your bow you have a simple yet effective way to keep your bow-pulling muscles awake and in shape year round.

I hit the gym on a regular basis to keep my heart and muscles strong. To keep it interesting, I switch up my workouts between weight lifting and strength training.

weights McClain is a fitness freak who says bow season is EVERY season. “Your muscles must be 'tuned and tweaked' just like your bow. Never stop training. Never stop practicing. And never let the rain or snow give you a day’s rest.”

 

Keep your leg muscles strong for hunting season

Other ideas instead of hitting the gym? Try one of these:

  • Bundle up and go for a ½ mile walk around the neighborhood
  • Take your sad-eyed, under-exercised canine friend for a long-anticipated walk
  • Walk for 30 minutes at the mall for exercise – not shopping
  • Try a winter sport like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or snowshoeing
  • Try an indoor activity like a spin class, roller skating, or walking on a treadmill
  • Check your local gyms or rec centers for adult leagues and activities
  • Skip the elevator every time and take the stairs

The key is to find a physical activity that is both enjoyable and interesting to you so you stick with it.

Vitamins and supplements work if they come from a good source

Having healthy joints and a strong immune system will help you in cold weather hunts. I’m very serious about diet and vitamin supplements for peak performance. You should be, at minimum, taking a daily vitamin. Do you have joint problems? Boost up your level of salmon oil, glucosamine, zinc, silica and boron.

Did You Know: Mass-marketed vitamins with big brand companies are popular—not because they come from pure sources, or are healthy for you—but because they have huge marketing dollars to advertise and make their brand well-known. Most often, they get the ingredients from cheap, contaminated sources because it’s cheaper to produce. They do not balance the ingredients properly so you end up taking more of one ingredient than you should, and not enough of another.

Why They Get Away With It: Because vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so as long as brands don’t ‘say’ that it will ‘cure’ a particular disease, or ‘heal’ a particular ailment, they won’t get in trouble.

The Perfect Example: Let’s look at omega-3s which are taken by millions of people every day. Did you know most brands only include 2 of the necessary 8 omegas in the bottle? Did you know there were 8? Most brands give you only 2, DHA and EPA, in unbalanced amounts and from a cheap, ‘unclean’ source.

Look for an omega-3 that has been screened for contaminants such as mercury and lead, comes from a pure and potent source such as salmon, and includes all 8 of these:

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DPA (docosapentaenoic acid)
  • Stearidonic acid
  • Eicosatrienoic acid
  • Eicosatetraenoic acid
  • Heneicosapentaenoic acid
  • Alpha-linolenic acid

Where to Find Them: The key is to not falsely trust the mass-marketed brands on the shelves of retailers. I look at clinical trials, studies and the sources of where my vitamins are coming from before I take them. The vitamins I take are made from whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fish—from pure and potent sources with supporting research from the USDA.

Not sure where to get vitamins like this? Hit me up and I’ll help you out.

Stay strong. Stay healthy. Stay warm. And good luck this hunting season!

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