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The warm September days are quickly disappearing and being replaced (finally) by cooler days, wet weather and the feeling that fall is finally here. I’m putting away the bow and dusting off the rifle for a few upcoming elk and deer hunts.
The change in weather also means it is time to alter my clothing kit for hunting. Even though I keep track of everything I wear on every hunt and keep notes on how it worked, every hunt seems to be different, and I’m always tinkering.
My struggle with getting my layering dialed is driven by a strong desire not to carry anything more than I need to be comfortable, both to reduce weight and bulk. And since most of my hunting these days involves backpack hunting, I’ve increasingly become militant about cutting weight. Unfortunately, I also seem to get colder easier than I used to, and on multi-day trips being miserable and cold just isn’t that much fun.
This is my full October layering kit for day and multi-day backpack hunting with a few caveats and exceptions based on the dramatic weather variations that we can have out west during October.
- Aerowool Liner Gloves—These gloves are breathable and thin enough to hike with and still fidget with gear, trekking poles, triggers, etc. They’re like a second skin when it is cold out, and I bring these on every hunt.
- Shale Hybrid Gloves- When combined with the liner gloves, this glove combo still allows me to use my hands, even in colder weather. If I’m day hunting, I might bring a warmer pair of gloves, but this glove combo covers most of my hunting except for extreme cold weather.
- Aerowool Neck Gaiter—Stays in my cargo pocket when not in use, but great for concealment, warmth and sun protection if the weather turns warm.
- Tag Cuff Beanie—I’m not sure why a good wool beanie has been hard for me to find in all my years of spending time outside, but this is without a doubt my favorite knit hat of all time, and it goes with me on every hunt.
- Brambler Gaiters—If there’s snow, or it’s wet, these gaiters are on all day.
- Fuse 200 Quarter Zip Top- Great baselayer, but also love to wear this piece alone when I’m hiking up a steep mountain and really exerting myself.
- Kiln Hoody-Pretty much always on me. When I’m backpacking, I wear it to bed at night, and I love the hood for close encounters with animals to conceal my face.
- Sawtooth Vest- I’m not much of a “vest guy”, but I love this vest. On cold morning hikes, I sometimes wear this over a baselayer for the perfect combination of warmth without sweating like a pig while hiking.
- Sawtooth Jacket-A staple of my kit, and one of my favorite mid/heavy weight layering jackets. Hardly ever leaves my pack or my torso.
- Chamberlin Jacket-This jacket is amazing. Great warmth to weight ratio, and packs down well. If it gets cold, and it definitely can in the mountains in October, this jacket is in my pack and comes out every time I stop to glass.
- Vapor Stormlight Jacket—Love how pack-able this jacket is. I hardly notice it in my pack, but if a cold rain pushes in, I’m always glad I packed it.
- Kiln Long Boxer—On the comfort scale, these underwear are about as good as it gets.
- Obsidian Pants—Still love how quiet and comfortable these pants are. My go-to pant for all but the coldest temps.
- Uncompahgre Puffy Pants—If you still haven’t tried out these pants, you’re seriously missing out. Every night, morning and glassing session these pants are on my legs. They’re easy to slip on and off, and they make long glassing sessions much more comfortable.
- Fuse 200 Aerowool Bottoms: On cold mornings I can actually hike with these and the Obsidian pants without feeling like my legs are on fire.
- Furnace 350 EXP Bottoms—This is a conditional item, but I had to throw these in because the fleece lining on these things is unreal. Incredibly soft and wicked warm. Definitely not for hiking big mountains in, but I wear these to bed at night and in the mornings glassing near my tent. I will only pack these around if it is going to be particularly cold.FL Team Member Brad Brooks hails from Boise, Idaho. He runs Argali.com, an online resource for backcountry hunters.
The deer died immediately, falling on a steep brush covered slope. The impact was so abrupt it caused the head to kick back and fall underneath the body as it collapsed backwards down the hill. My boyfriend Nick and I each grabbed an antler and dragged the deer to the flat bottom of the drainage. Once we reached the bottom we pulled out our knives and got to work. My first cut was at the base of the neck and worked back toward the rump. From there I skinned one half of the deer and began removing each cut of meat. After each cut was removed, I placed the meat into game bags and into our packs. There was this wild unspoken feeling of gratification and fulfillment that lingered as we worked. Our happiness was contagious. I paused for a moment during the process and thought about how incredible it was that I was in the mountains, harvesting the meat off an animal I stalked and killed.
I could not physically pick up my pack and throw it over my shoulders, so I rustled the pack onto a bit of a hill then sat, worked my arms into the straps and stood up from a squatting position. My first few steps were like a new born calf, wobbly and weak, but as I walked I found wild satisfaction in that heavy pack. I went into the woods with nothing, and came out with something. The weight in that pack signified even more than meat in the freezer, it meant I accomplished what I set out for.
We butchered the meat in the garage of First Lite’s HQ complete with music and beer. We cut, trimmed, packaged and labeled my entire deer while smiling and laughing along the way. Each package was labeled with my name, the date, and the cut of meat. I love knowing exactly how that meat was handled from start to finish.
As a hunter, I’ve formed an intimate connection to my food and knowing where it comes from. I adore the part of the hunt that takes place after the kill because to me, the dressing, quartering, and butchering process is the most fulfilling part of hunting. I felt that connection grow stronger through this experience. It is the story I love to share and the memories I value the most.
That feelings satisfaction comes back every time I reach into the freezer and pull out a roast labeled “Allie’s Mule Deer”.
Pittsburgh transplant, Allie D'Andrea, is the social media manager at FLHQ. She was stoked to shoot her first mule deer last Fall. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @outdoors_allie.