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It’s a wee bit nippy outside at the moment, even here in Texas. Is the cold cramping your style hunting and shooting-wise? What do you do to keep yourself ballistically satisfied during the winter months?

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78 Responses to Question of the Day: Too Cold to Shoot?

  1. Cold is 8 below zero with 20-25 winds. Bundle up, fire up those cheapo handwarmers, buy decent thermal skivvies, wear a hat and an underhat, hood, jackets, and wool socks. And hope your fingers aren’t too stiff to pull the trigger if you see a deer. Adrenalin helps.

      • Our shots come fast in my neck of the woods. Flapping off a heavy glove, to take a poke at a deer 25-75 yards off, is a good way to turn a walking shot into a running shot. If I was covering a field, that could be a good option.

        I like quality lined leather gloves – acceptable warmth with decent trigger dexterity. Gore Tex makes a lot of crinkly noise in the cold on close up deer.

        • Last year I switched to the fingerless gloves with the flip mittens. Allows trigger finger to come out quick, and if it is too cold those hand warmers can tuck into the mittens.

        • I wish I could remember to go check on my comments for replies when I ask questions.

          I seem to recall adding about the feasibility of a cable release trigger for a rifle. It would be great for mittens, but possibly would only be useful while prone, if at all.

  2. I’m actually going out to the range with a few friends today. First chance I’ve had in a couple of months, so cold be damned.

  3. Cold never stopped my family. Hunting in the cold and snow is no big deal. The range I belong to never closes and we snow blow a path to pin up targets. I am also part of a trap and 5-stand league that goes all winter long unless the roads are not passable which is rare.

    Short of a blizzard or ice storm, the cold never stopped me.

  4. I was out in a tree stand yesterday with temperatures in the 20s. A little colder than average for this time of year, but really a fine day for hunting, all things considered.

  5. I took this week off from hunting here in Wyoming. -15F at night, 0 during the day down on the flats – 10 to 20 degrees colder than that up at 7K ASL (before we talk about wind) tends to dampen my enthusiasm a bit.

    It also makes for problems with batteries, starting engines, etc that could make a routine outing into the mountains a survival crisis without even trying to.

    • That’s seriously cold. It’s one thing to type it, and another not to freeze to death. Glad you can still use your fingers. Some will never know the temporary or permanent effects of frostbite.

    • Just got back from Lewistown Montana. Stalking the cow elk herd lost a little of it’s allure when it was -15F at 7:00 a.m. Was there for a week, never got above 5F

    • Last winter, I picked up a Type 53 and just had to go shoot it after I got all the cosmoline off. I don’t think I made many friends at the indoor range that day.

      • Everybody wants to try my M44 when I shoot it outdoors. Everybody wants to put me on trial when I shoot it indoors. Location, location, location.

  6. Nope, love shooting out in the cold, especially in the snow.

    However it can test some firearms. A couple years back I was hunting in Montana, and we went higher up into the hills to try and find an elk herd. It was already cold, but the higher elevation dropped the temps well below zero. When I returned to the truck and went to empty the internal mag of my rifle, the follower spring simply exploded into pieces. 70s manufactured BSA rifle, the spring had finally had enough.

  7. It was 15 degrees yesterday morning where I was hunting. Up on a tree stand, in the wind. Thankfully, my buck showed his face only 90 minutes into the hunt. But I was prepared to stay all day if needed. I had so many layers on I looked like the Staypuff Marshmallow man.

    • fww, you raised an important point. Old guys like us can take all kinds of punishment, but cold weather isn’t one of them. I used to snowboard and snowblade — I couldn’t wait for cold weather and snow. Freshies! Now, I can’t wait for winter to end and it hasn’t even started yet.

  8. Dyspeptic Gunsmith, I was in Clark, Wyoming picking up a horse last Wednesday and it was -22 degrees.

    Anyway, during the summer I hike the mountains and don’t shoot a whole lot. Winters keep me off the trails, so that’s when I get the most shooting time. Not keen on it when below 10F or with high winds, but I’ll usually go anyway if I’ve got loads to test.

  9. The worst part of shooting in the cold is trying to keep your trigger finger from freezing. Gloves are OK for non precision shooting.
    Last year I bought a propane heater (My Buddy) I keep it real low, and every 15 minutes or so. I turn it up and hold my hands close to it for a couple of minutes. Then I’m good for another group.
    Works great!

    • @Gunr, I use shooters mittens for cold weather outdoor shooting. They look like regular mittens except that the mitten part covering your fingers folds back to create fingerless gloves. For precision shooting, fire your groups with the mitt folded back (it stays that way with Velcro), with the last two digits of your fingers bare. After you’ve fired, fold the mitt part back over your fingers for a toasty mitten with full coverage.

      But you’re right — nothing beats a propane heater on a cold, cold day. Well, maybe bourbon, but we don’t drink and shoot.

      • Ralph,
        Have you ever tried any Battery operated heated gloves? Seems like I have seen them advertised before. I’d like to have a pair of those gloves you mentioned with the trigger finger covering heated. or what would be neat is some gloves with the trigger finger portion cut off, and a little heated cap thing that slipped over the end of your finger, like a long thimble. The cap thing would be easy to slip on and off as needed while your shooting.

  10. Heading to the range to shoot a few out of the Sako .375.
    I’m a worry wort, and I want to make sure the scope is still on for elk and bear in the coast range next weekend.
    It’s finally above freezing here.

      • I actually don’t like hunting unless temps are below freezing because it cools the meat quickly. Coldest I’ve hunted is -10. Don’t know what the wind chill was, but the snow was almost horizontal. It wasn’t fun. I saw deer, but they were always running full bore like they were freaked out by something. Nothing got shot.

  11. Only salt we got here in Arizona is the salt on the rim of our magaritas! Haha! We lucked out here with some seriously nice weather.

  12. I keep a hand warmer in my dominant hand glove….helps keep my trigger finger warm.

    Silk underwear …I will NEVER go back to “thermals”.

  13. I’m in Canada (A.K.A. the Great Frozen North) If we didn’t shoot in the winter, our shooting season would be like our motorcycling season; 3 1/2 months long.

    I don’t really have a temperature limit…cold is cold; if you’re not properly dressed for it, 20 can be as dangerous as -40. For me, if I have to snowshoe to shoot, my shooting is going to be limited. It’s a PITA to haul gear onto the range with them on, it’s a hassle to shoot with them on, and if you’re just going out to plink rabbits or grouse, it’s more dangerous hauling a loaded rifle around on snowshoes than just wearing boots

  14. If you can’t feel your finger, you can’t anticipate your shot… I kid, that’s ridiculous. Anyway just jog around a bit, get the blood pumping. U love cold weather.

  15. Deer come into my backyard, I can shoot from warmth of my easy chair out my back window, if I were so inclined.

  16. Lots and lots of toe warmers (the ones with adhesive).

    -one in each boot
    -one in the hat on top of the head
    -one on the chest
    -two in each glove, one on the top of the hand and one in the palm

    You can call me a wuss, but not a cold wuss.

  17. The best hunting I have ever had was when it was cold. Warm days have never been kind to me. (Colorado hunting where I am from) I prefer layers and wool with lots of money spent on quality boots.

  18. Too cold to shoot? Never. Thats why they make ECWCS underwear and outer wear among other things to keep your butt warm in cold weather.

  19. Well, I was out practicing for my next IDPA match in the rain just an hour ago. It’s not cold enough to stop me, wet or no.

  20. The colder it is, the fewer idiots will be at the range and in the woods. I go out of my way to go shooting when it’s crappy out.

  21. Jumpsuit, balaclava, and THICK gloves and socks. Worked for me just a few days ago when it dropped bellow freezing. Not quite the yeti hunting weather they’ve got up north but cold enough for a Florida boy to be uncomfortable.

  22. I went out target shooting yesterday at 16F, light wind, and shot the best string of teeny groups ever in my life. Wore lots of layers. I’d like to ask you guys: how do you keep your safety glasses from fogging up in cold weather? I tried to shoot without them once and the RSO climbed right up my @ss, so gotta wear them.

    • Wearing scarf/bandana over lower face? Not much you can do. I wear MSA sunglasses style safety glasses, well, all the time, and spend a great deal of time outside(2 hours today walking electric fence, same tomorrow, ad infinitium) and the only remedy I have found is not pulling face cover too high. Which means cold nose. I know guys who use ski/snowmobile goggles, I just never found a set that was comfortable.

    • “how do you keep your safety glasses from fogging up in cold weather?”

      Scuba divers use anti-fog treatments to keep the inside of their dive masks from fogging over when diving in cold water..

      Realize I live in Florida and can’t positively say it will work in cold air, but it might.

      • I have tried a couple different things in the past with little success. Always snorkeled in warm water so the dive mask fogging was never an issue.

  23. I love to shoot in crappy weather. Guy got a pic of me shooting the Garand a few years ago, snow covered boonie hat brim, stream rising off the upper and metal. He dropped the camera when going in his front door and whole day’s pics got scrubbed! As a couple people above have said, range is empty when it is raw out, and some of my best hunting has been in hard cold and snow. Love to stand and listen to the snow fall. Its Zen-like.

  24. Grew up in the Dakotas. One winter walked the mile and a half to high school in a January where every day the thermometer started off at -30. Thats 30 below zero, 62 below freezing.

    I remember a fox hunt with my bro, like one of those slow motion dreams in the movies, that is clear as day 30 years later- same kind of weather so cold everything is in HD compared to real life…

    – watching a fox bust out of ice shrouded weeds ten yards away to bound up the opposite slope- leaving puffs of breath hanging in the air frozen ice crystals… he stopped at the top to look over his shoulder- a perfect white pelt, shrouded in a cloud of breath in the sun – so beautiful I was frozen in admiration.

  25. For hands in extreme cold, I wear fairly thin liner gloves inside of mittens with chemical hand warmers. When it is time to shoot, you take your hand out of your mitten then proceed to grip and pull the trigger when appropriate. The liner glove provides just enough insulation to keep your hand warm long enough to shoot and then put your hand back in the mitten. Even then, I tend to hold my hands between my legs or under my arms for extra warmth.

  26. If you employ ambush hunting (sitting still in one location for hours along game trails), it can be almost impossible to have enough insulation to sit for several hours in extreme cold. I have had some success with multiple layers and insulated coveralls. My layers start with thin silk or spandex, then extreme cold thermal underwear, then down-filled “long underwear”, then fleece shirt and pants, and then insulated coveralls. Of course you have to have an insulated seat, crazy-thick mittens, total head covering, and artic boots. Even then a fleece blanket can be necessary to actually feel comfortable — versus simply being able to tolerate the cold.

    When you consider what it takes for us to withstand extreme cold for hours on end, you have to be amazed at how simple and effective the fur coats of deer and other animals are at keeping them warm. Deer fur is so well insulated that they can sleep on top of snow without ever melting the snow.

  27. Cold is just another opportunity for training and to test the reliability of your firearms. Although I have to confess that it also makes me appreciate my indoor dry fire sessions more.

    • This is how I feel. Maybe it’s because I don’t live with it every day, but I enjoy traveling to places with extremely cold weather. It’s an opportunity to test myself and my equipment and learn valuable skills. If you buy the right high-quality cold-weather gear, which is expensive, you won’t be cold. It might be hard to be truly comfortable trudging through the snow in extreme conditions, but you don’t have to be cold. The best equipment provides a lot of warmth for the weight, a broad temperature comfort range, and encumbers one less.

      That said, it can be really expensive to function when it’s cold to the point that non-specialized electronics and many mechanical things are not reliable and most equipment must be specific for the arctic weather environment. If your vehicles and firearms don’t work such weather few can afford to buy all sorts of specific equipment just as a hobby. I don’t have the equipment to do much below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but I don’t encounter such conditions. If I did, I’d buy warmer clothing and gear more reliable in extremely cold weather.

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