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Banding Together for Waterfowl

5-Tips For Duck Hunting in Extreme Weather

Being able to handle tumbling temperatures and howling winds can pay off in extraordinary late-season wildfowling opportunities
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  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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by Gary Koehler, Senior Writer

There was a time when a couple of friends and I would lie on our backs for hours in a picked cornfield, waiting for transient mallards and the odd Canada goose to come to dinner. Snow, ice, and temperatures in the 20s, or worse, we didn't consider problems.

There was shooting to be had. But that was 30 years ago. I can't speak for my buddies, but my bones can no longer handle that type of action, at least not without proper preparation.

Comfort is relative, but there are a number of things you can do to make your outing safer, more pleasurable, and more efficient.

1-All Decked Out

The outdoor clothing industry has made tremendous strides. And we're not talking about the 1,001 camouflage patterns now available. No, we're talking about fabrics and insulation systems that can keep you warm and dry in the coldest, wettest weather. Some things perhaps will never change. Layering your clothing remains a sensible piece of business.

Hunters realized that many years ago, but most of the materials available in the past were flawed because of their moisture absorption and retention rates. Moisture displaces air, which is the true source of insulation in fabrics. This reduces the clothing's insulating value and pulls heat from the body. You can bet that a damp hunter is a cold hunter.

Start with undergarments made of fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. Wool, tried and true for generations, remains an excellent choice for the next layer.

"Wool traps wet heat in the form of perspiration, absorbs it, and radiates dry heat back to the wearer. Nothing else does that," says King Cavalier, whose King of the Mountain outerwear has often been the choice of military special forces. Turtlenecks, vests, and sweaters are good. Down is warm, but bulky.

Waterproof and windproof bib overalls and a hooded parka provide a protective outer shell. Wear an insulated cap or hat. Take along extra gloves or mittens. Face masks work, and so do fleece-lined muffs.

Do not wear so many pairs of socks that you can't wiggle your toes inside your boots. Neoprene waders will keep you warmer than hip boots, and waders with boot liners can make a big difference.

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