When temperatures dip to sub-zero, dressing in layers is critical, especially when doing any hiking in rough terrain between call sets. Start with a merino-type baselayer and build out from there. If it’s really cold, I’ll stack on several base layers under a mid-layer pant.
I like my mid-layer top to be fleece because it’s warm and dries out fast if I happen to fall in a snowbank and get it wet. My favorite jacket for a mid-layer warmth builder in cold weather is the Cabela’s PrimaLoft Trail insulator jacket. PrimaLoft is warm, even if it gets damp and dries out fast, plus it’s lightweight and compresses down. Wearing a vest is my favorite way to add warmth over my fleece top or insulator jacket without adding bulk.
Always wear an outer layer that’s waterproof, even if conditions seem dry, because weather conditions change quickly in winter months and most waterproof layers double as a great wind barrier. Ladies, be sure to check out the OutfitHer line from Cabela’s.
Snow gators will help keep the snow from tumbling into the tallest of boots and help keep your feet dry should you encounter any creek or water crossings along the way.
Bring along at least two pairs of warm, waterproof gloves. Gloves get wet easily in snowy conditions, and you’ll be thankful that you have an extra dry pair or two as the day progresses.
One beanie on your head and an additional one in your pack is ideal, which is lightweight, low-bulk warmth insurance. I keep my extra gloves and an extra beanie in a gallon plastic bag to prevent them from getting wet in the field.
The Shemagh has been used by our military for years, and recently I’ve incorporated it into my hunts. Kryptek makes a Shemagh that will not only protect your face and neck from the elements, but you can use it for many purposes such as covering your riflescope from the elements or shade the sun from your eyes while glassing—I’ve even covered my head with the Shemagh while shooting to keep sand out of my eyes.
The Pinnacle BOA boot by Cabela’s is my go-to boot in winter conditions. The boot is waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX, and it’s tall enough to defer snow that’s knee deep. Plus, the BOA system keeps my boot tight without laces.
Do you get cold feet easily? Thermarest heated insoles quickly and easily slip into your boots providing you with toasty heat during your calling sets. You can even turn off the heat when walking to save battery life and ensure your feet don’t overheat.
For pursuit hunting with hounds, a high-quality pair of crampons are a must in mountain terrain. Covering mountain miles without a good pair will wear you out! The added traction will make your hike slide-free and much easier.
And for all the slipping and sliding that you might do, a trekking pole is a great add when navigating rough, steep, snowy terrain. If your buddies make fun of you for your stick, poke it at them and laugh when they struggle up the mountain. You will be thankful you have it and they’ll wish they had one, too. I promise!
Mouth calls from Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls are my favorite hand-held way to dupe predators. They have a selection of jackrabbit, cottontail, rodent and fawn distress sounds, plus coyote and wolf howling systems. You can even use a cow call diaphragm to make calf elk distress sounds.
If you are no expert with mouth calls, check out Cabela’s Outfitter Series predator call by FoxPro. It comes loaded with 35 sounds and you can customize by adding more sounds that you can download online.
I like to use electronic calls because it moves the sound away from you as the shooter, allowing the predator to come within range without busting you as easily. BONUS: The Outfitter Series electronic call comes loaded with cougar and other fur animal sounds that are not easy to or—even possible—to replicate with a mouth call.
Decoys work because they give the predator a focal point to watch when coming in. Montana Decoy makes coyote, rabbit and fawn decoys that are realistic and give your calling more life. Some states even allow moving decoys. Check your local regulations to see what rules apply to your state.
Mobile Gear ‘Garage’
Cabela’s Speedy Yote Kickstand vest has pockets to hold all of your calls and give you a comfortable seat that insulates you against the cold ground while in the field.A high-quality backpack you like will surely help tote along all of your necessary gear, too.
Kitchen—yes, I dare say kitchen while hunting. I’m a girl for heaven’s sake, so it’s natural to bring along everything except the kitchen sink (a gallon of water will suffice). There’s nothing more delightful than a hot cup of coffee or lunch in sub-zero temperatures on a predator hunt.
MSR reactor stoves or Jet Boil stoves are lightweight and boil water quickly so you can dine on a hot lunch from Mountain House or sip fresh hot coffee all day long. You can opt to put the kitchen in your pack or leave it at the truck. Either way, everyone will enjoy it. I promise.
Good optics are a must and will help you spot predators from long distances, allowing you the opportunity to place a well-planned set without spooking them or alerting them to your presence. A rangefinder is also a must so you can easily and quickly dial your rifle turret for point of aim or quickly know the holdover measurements.
A tripod shooting rest or bipod is also a must when stand-hunting for predators. It will allow you to stay comfortable and supported behind the gun throughout your entire set.
Don’t forget the small stuff that matters. Bring at least one extra set of batteries for your flashlight and predator call—the cold air drains batteries quickly. A few hand or body warmers will remove the chill of the winter weather without adding bulk, too.
A GPS with OnXmaps will provide valuable landowner information, allowing you to access areas that you might not have known were public land. Gaining hunting access for predators in much easier than getting on the same property to hung big game.
Good hunting—and calling—to you all!