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River Valley Outdoors
Hunting Season Preparations
The early-morning chill, blowing in through the kitchen window, reminds me that hunting season looms just around the corner. September provides some fantastic angling, but when the temperatures start to drop my mind wanders to thoughts of traipsing through the forested mountains that surround the Androscoggin River Valley with a shotgun or rifle over my shoulder.
First off, I need to increase my walking – the sporadic schedule I have been keeping needs a boost. Also, my routine needs to include a few more miles each day, with a few hikes in the hills to get the heart and lungs in condition.
When I hunt, I wander -- I think I enjoy walking around exploring the woods as much as anything. Over the years I have refined the gear I take, to make my wandering more comfortable and the hunting more efficient.
A good pair of boots are essential, keeping the feet warm and offering sure footing on an uneven forest floor. A large number of boot manufacturers provide hunters with an enormous selection of fine boots, nowadays. In my own search for the perfect boot, I have found that one type of boot cannot do it all -- I own several pairs, each with their own purpose.
For bird hunting, I prefer L.L. Bean’s (llbean.com) Kangaroo Gore-Tex Upland Boot. They are lightweight, as comfortable as a pair of sneakers, and keep my feet dry.
When the snow comes and I start sloshing through the swamps looking for that trophy buck, I switch to rubber boots. Several companies offer top-quality rubber boots for this purpose. The Muck Boot Company (muckboots.com), and LaCrosse Boot Company (lacrossefootwear.com) are two of the finest. I own boots from both companies and find them easy to wear and they keep my feet dry and warm – even in the coldest snow. Last year I tried a pair of 17-inch, Pro Knee Boots by Dream Season (robinsonoutdoors.com) and found that they performed just as well as the traditional rubber boots.
When the temperature really plummets and my hunting finds me sitting for extended periods of time, I go with a Pac boot. Most outdoors folks are familiar with the L.L. Bean Hunting Boot – the traditional Pac boot with rubber bottoms and leather tops. Other companies have followed this successful trend, making similar models that keep stationary hunter’s feet warm.
I just noticed a new pair of Pac boots in the latest L.L. Bean catalog that use PrimaLoft insulation. I’ve got to give them a try -- anything that I’ve used in the past, with PrimaLoft insulation, has performed wonderfully.
That takes me to my next set of hunting items for consideration -- outerwear. Any garment that uses PrimaLoft insulation is going to keep a hunter warm when the snow falls; it is THE perfect insulation for cold weather. I would closely consider any outerwear item with PrimaLoft.
Wool works wonderful as an insulating material also. Most hunters associate wool with plaid hunting suits made by companies like L.L. Bean, Johnson Woolen Mills (johnsonwollenmills.com), or Beagle Wear (beaglewear.com). You can’t beat wool in the hunting woods -- even when it gets wet it keeps you warm, and it stays quiet when brushing up against noisy branches on trees and bushes.
Wool long johns bring back memories of itchy days afield in years past, but nowadays hunters have an excellent alternative that offers the warmth of wool without the itch. Several companies make long johns out of luxurious merino wool, a soft, non-itchy material that insulates even when wet. One enjoyable feature that merino wool underwear offers is that it doesn’t absorb human odor the way synthetic long johns do after a few days of hard hunting.
The hunting season and its autumn chill is a ways off, but a hint of it blows in the crisp, early-morning air. Preparing hunting gear for the upcoming season helps alleviate the last minute rush and pre-hunt exercising prepares a hunter’s body and mind for success.