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When I asked the outfitter about what to wear he said, “It probably won’t get much below zero, but be prepared for 30 below.”
That got me thinking. Would I be able to deal with that kind of cold, especially since I’d be sitting in a tree stand for 11 hours a day? Here are some notes from the trip:

Monday, 5 a.m. 0 degrees F. I can’t believe I’m going to spend 11 hours sitting in a deep freezer.
Tuesday, 5 a.m. –14 F. Wind chill, somewhere around –27. I dress with seven layers. I will need every one. At breakfast one hunter says, “This isn’t a hunt; it’s an endurance contest.”

Tuesday, 4 p.m. The cold is brutal. It actually feels like a menacing, living presence. I’m hunched up trying to conserve every bit of warmth. I think of Robert Falcon Scott, the gallant British explorer who froze to death in Antarctica. At the end of the day, I’m so stiff from the cold that I can barely climb down the ladder.

Was it worth the wait? You bet. I finally took a nice whitetail. And I learned a valuable lesson about footwear: I don’t care what the cold-weather rating is, the boot won’t keep your feet warm when you sit in a tree stand in below-zero weather. What was your coldest hunt?

–Slaton White

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