By: Ted Nugent
Swear to God the thermometer read 72’ below zero! Fahrenheit! No, really! My Alaska bowhunting BloodBrother Dave Widby and I were slogging across the frozen arctic tundra in search of the wooly mammoth musk ox, bundled up beyond the Pillsbury dough boy meets the Michelin man against the coldest of freezing cold mother Nature could possible throw our way!
It was wonderful and exciting, but Good Lord almighty was it ever COLD!
We were nonetheless pretty comfortable and snugged up, fully insulated in our state of the art gonzo muy frio attire of multi-layered heavy wool, down filled long-johns and every imaginable Thinsulate/Goretex goodies known to man back in the 1990s.
In these most challenging conditions possible, we did both get lucky and arrowed two dandy record book quality trophy wooly beasts on this phenomenal adventure. Whenever I might get a little chill and move a little closer to the fireplace, my body tingles and my mind reels with memories of this deadly freezing safari in the iced over North country of the Last Frontier.
As a lifelong Michigan bowhunter, I have certainly had my share of incredibly frozen vigils in dangerously below zero conditions in the last 69 deerseasons. I so remember all those years in the 1950s and 60s when all we had was wool, insulated Herman Survivor leather boots and cotton long-johns. Thank God for those old lighter fluid operating pocket handwarmers eh!
Even now as I wrap up my 2017-2018 deerseason at home in Texas, we are experiencing our share of single digit temperatures to adequately test our resolve to keep warm, persevere and stick with it.
When I went to my treestand yesterday afternoon around 3 o’clock here in mid-January, the temperature was a warmer than usual 63’ even for this part of the Hill Country. Wearing my lightweight Savanah ScentLok jacket was more than enough to handle the occasional yet ever increasing cool wind change from east to north.
Just a few hours later by the time a trio of buttonbuck whitetails nibbled their way in under my big oak the temperature had decreased by at least 20 degrees and I was starting to wish I wore my Stormy Kromer hat and a heavier jacket.
At dusk with the north wind picking up, a pair of axis does cautiously crept into range, and with the best venison in the world moving in, I fought off the chills, aimed small and missed small with a very pretty Gold Tip arrow straight through the spotted hide into the pumpstation for a very gratifying FUN SPORT MEAT TROPHY evening of bowhunting perfection.
I still get a serious case of buck fever everytime my predator brain kicks into “kill mode” on any animal, be it a woodchuck, squirrel, big old buck or little old doe, and falling temperatures always seem to exacerbate the nerve rattling excitement for me.
My buddies Jim Knapp and Clint Henrickson both arrowed great bucks in the Illinois late season and like all late season hunters, they had to gear up and endure the harsh elements of old man winter. Son Toby was properly prepared for the coldest of cold when he finally arrowed his December 30th Michigan whitetail swamp beast in windy, snowy, below freezing conditions.
The old US Marine Corp adage of improvise, adapt and overcome is also the mantra of successful late season deerhunters.
As I dedicate many of my winter days to cut, split, haul and stack firewood to stoke the warming logs in my fireplace, I do my best to retain the heat it all provides, for in an hour or so I will dress accordingly to bowhunt this evening in 15’ wind-chill conditions. I will be sure to touch off a few arrows beforehand at the Morell 3-D range before heading afield to make sure my archery form is still manageable in all these heavy clothes.
This late season bowhunting is some of the most fun bowhunting there is. I wish all of you dedicated backstrappers that are still at the very best of luck and hope you stay warm and hunt like you mean it. I am out there with you!