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River Valley Hunting
Deer Gear; Wool Rules the Hunter’s Woods
The bow and arrow season for hunting whitetails started October 1, but most folks regard Maine’s November rifle hunt as the beginning of “deer season.”
Several local convenience stores throughout the River Valley sell hunting licenses and are registered with the state as tagging stations. Many of these stores offer a “Big Buck Contest” with the proceeds going to the hunter that tags the heaviest deer.
It’s just part of a local tradition, and often the conversation at these stores during the deer season centers around the same old question, “Did you get your deer yet?”
There’s no guarantee when hunting whitetails, but certain items can make hunting a little more comfortable. When hunters stay comfy, they stay out longer and remain much more alert – both good things on a Northwoods deer hunt.
First off, a good day of hunting during the cold November deer season has to start with a nutritious breakfast. Many local businesses in the River Valley open before daybreak to accommodate hunters during the November deer season. Bulk up on a hearty, sick-to-your-ribs breakfast before heading out, and pack a sandwich and a few goodies for lunch. That carries most hunters over until suppertime, after a day in the deer woods.
Quality clothing comes next on my list.
I find that my feet don’t ever get cold if I’m wearing a good pair of wool socks over a thin pair of sock liners. Plenty of manufacturers make top-quality wool socks. One of my favorites has been the Smart Wool Company (smartwool.com). Most retailers carry this brand, as well as a good selection of other wool sock manufacturers.
Wool longjohns also keep the cold at bay during a chilly deer hunt. Smart Wool makes a great longjohn out of soft, warm, merino wool. L. L. Bean (llbean.com) also produces a great set of merino wool longjohns in their “Cresta” line.
I produce a lot of excess moisture (sweat) when I’m deer hunting. I just have to hike over the next hill to see what’s there and work up quite a head of sweat. I constantly have to remove my hat and wipe my brow. A good hat might help with this problem. This year I’m trying a new hat from L. L. Bean. It’s called the “Technical Upland Cap,” and made of a breathable fabric, with a moisture-wicking sweatband that absorbs sweat away from the forehead. I can’t wait to give it a try.
My favorite piece of deer hunting clothing happens to be my green and black plaid, wool Beagle Wear Jacket (beaglewear.com). Various other companies make wool hunting jackets, one of the best materials for sneaking around in the deer woods.
The Beagle Wear jacket has a wool material that has been specially treated with Teflon to repel rain. I haven’t worn the jacket in a big downpour, but have stayed completely dry in a fairly heavy rain.
Even when wool gets wet, it keeps a hunter warm. I found this out the hard way once, when snowmobiling a few winters ago at about 26 degrees.
I followed a marked snowmobile trail across an open field along the Androscoggin River just west of Newry. I slowed down just a tad and noticed the sled started sinking through the solid-looking surface. I fell through to about my waist and couldn’t get the snowmobile to ride out of the big “puddle” in the field. As I tried to maneuver the sled out of the water, I slipped and fell. Now I was completely drenched up to my neck.
After all was said and done, I had driven 30 miles and spent four hours getting the sunken sled out of the water – and all the time I was wearing soaking wet wool clothes. The wool material kept me warm until I was able to get back home to the heat of a cranking woodstove. I can’t say enough good things about wool; socks, gloves, hats, underwear, jackets, shirts, pants, etc. I wear them all and consider them a necessary part of my deer hunting gear.