When I finally climbed into my tree stand two miles from the end of a remote Montana road late one November, snow was falling hard and the temperature had dropped below freezing. To loosen my shooting muscles and check my gear, I prepared to draw my bow a few times before hanging it on a peg. Halfway through my first draw, pow! The bow exploded in my hands and I was left holding a wind chime of bow parts. Ice had built up in the string groove on one of the cams and forced the string off the cam, bringing my hunt to an explosive halt.
This incident underscores an important point: To succeed late in the season, you must adapt to the cold.
Armguard: Wearing a lot of clothes is a fact of hunting life in cold weather. That makes an armguard, an item you might not use in warm weather, essential, because it holds a thick sleeve out of the way of the bow string.
Full-Body Harness: A full-body safety harness-something you should always wear in a tree stand-will compress the chest of a thick jacket so that your bow string won’t hit it.
Gloves: In place of heavy gloves, wear light gloves and keep your hands in a hand muff. The muff shown here is the HanBlanket from Icebreaker. ($21.50; 706-754-3732; www. icebreakerinc.com)
Wrist Sling: A wrist sling enables you to maintain a loose hand with no worries of dropping your bow. Keep the sling loose so you can slip your hand in quickly. The Braided Bow Sling from C.R. Archery Products, shown here, is one good choice. ($9.99; 717-394-5769; www. crarchery.com)
Face Mask: A fleece or knit face mask is a good idea in cold weather. The mask shown here is from Day One Camouflage. ($21.95; 800-347-2979; www.dayonecamouflage.com)
Quiver: Rain and snow can freeze on your arrows, creating ice bumps that will deflect the arrows off target. A fully enclosed quiver, such as the Catquiver VII from Rancho Safari, will prevent this problem. ($140; 760-789-2094; www.ranchosafari.com)
Arrow Rest: Use a simple rest, preferably without springs because springs can freeze up. The Star Hunter from Golden Key Futura, shown here, is pretty much fail-safe in the cold. ($28; 970-249-6700; www.golden keyarchery.com)
**Bag It Up: **The Heater Body Suit from TSS Equipment Co., shown here, is essentially a camouflage sleeping bag. Inside this insulated cocoon, you don’t need to wear bulky clothes, and your shooting form is less restricted. (From $298; 888-565-2652; www. heaterbodysuit.com)