Cold Weather Hunting/Shooting

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by NeptunesTrident, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. NeptunesTrident

    NeptunesTrident Member

    Aug 26, 2012
    I'm interested in hearing about some techniques and equipment that people use to shoot long range in cold environments. Anything from clothing choices to how you set up your shooting location (sit and ambush). By cold weather I mean 10 degrees F to below 0 with snow on the ground. It's a lot easier to stay warm when you are on the move in cold weather but sitting in a static ambush position for extended periods of time can be difficult to stay warm, especially with snow on top of frozen ground. This is even more difficult when you need to be steady enough for a long range 1000 plus yard shot.
  2. Codyg510

    Codyg510 Member

    Jun 12, 2012
    I cant say i've ever killed anything at 1000 yards in freezing conditions, but i have done my share of cold weather rifle hunting. I've found that a snow covered ground can work wonders for stability when shooting prone. You may need a bi-pod that's slightly longer than your used to, but if you can get your prone body and rifle set into a good snow pack you should find the position quite stable. Building up a little snow under the stock of rifle can almost eliminate the need for rear bag.

    You can buy all white, waterproof, tyvek suits online for only a couple bucks a pop. They can be spray painted or muddied up to look like almost any winter environment and they slip right over any hunting gear. They also roll up into very tight balls for transport and storage.

    Keep your shooting hand warm until it's time to fire. There are times i've slipped two handwarmers into an insulated glove just to keep that trigger finger moving freely. It can be almost uncomfortably hot until you remove the glove, but it's worth it when it's time to fire and you need to feel the trigger.

  3. NeptunesTrident

    NeptunesTrident Member

    Aug 26, 2012
    Thanks for the tips. Those are some good ideas.
  4. M67

    M67 Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2010
    I have done my fair share of cold weather hunting, and long range target shooting in cold weather.


    Clothing in general:
    - wool wool and wool, do use wool underwear
    - dress in layers
    - use something completely windproof as the outer layer
    - wool socks and mittens, windproof outer mittens, mittens not gloves
    - a good cap/hat that is windproof and covers your ears, watch the russians

    - preferably, sit in a windsack
    - a reindeer/caribou hide under your butt is better than anything "modern"

    - shelter from the wind, you can dig in, or make a snow wall, or use a tarp, but shelter from the wind
    - large shoes
    - spare dry socks
    - glasses will shield face from wind and lessen heat loss
    - so will a bandana/shemagh

    - never ever get sweaty
    - keep your hands in the mittens, or on your body
    - if on a LR hunt, or at anything but close up hiding, you can make a small fire if the wind is in your face,
    - heavy things that fall in snow, cartridges for example, are hard to find

    - Thermos can and hot chocolate, fat food, and warm food

    - do the math, bullets drop alot more
    - @ LR, VERIFY shooting in similar air density, i have had nice and accurate summer loads disappear on me in high density winter air, seen good loads hit sideways, etc.
    - winter and cold is often calm, very good accuracy can be had
    - consider magnum primers if not already using, ES can increase in CW
    - VERIFY velocity in actual temperature, Vo variation in temperaure is a complicated beast.
    - make SURE there is no oil in the trigger... or on the striker spring
    - keep oil on weapon to a minimum, dry on outside
    - shooting can throw up a large amount of snow, enough to make 2. shot impossible, snow on lenses etc. Use a suppressor, or a 4'x4' mat under muzzle.
    - dry snow on a warm or oily rifle in CW is a mess
    - and keep your breath away from lenses


    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  5. NeptunesTrident

    NeptunesTrident Member

    Aug 26, 2012
    Thanks M67 for the awesome post. I appreciate you taking the time to post some great photos and give a detailed write up. I don't have access to any caribou hide but an elk hide should suffice.
  6. jackem

    jackem Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    Great thread with good ideas and proven methods. Thank you.

  7. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

    Sep 23, 2006
    Great post M 67. I usually hunt Colo. at 10,000+ in Nov. and also hunt the late hunt around Christmas where it can be -20. I agree...wool,wool,wool, and also windproof layers. When real cold all skin needs covered if possible. In addition to what's mentioned I've found something like a "heat exchanger" mask works real well. It allows outside air to be warmed before you suck it in, and they don't get all wet/frozen. Really helps. Also some sort of coveralls, sleeping bag,heater body suit is nice to slip into when on a ridge -- Gives insulation beyond what you can walk in and it packages you up without potential cold spots at waist etc. Head and neck are really important to keep warm. Loose, big boots that let blood flow, hand and feet warmers too.

    As mentioned, warm gun and scope can be bad...taking them from 70 degree vehicle or tent into 0 degrees they'll sweat and fog like crazy. I tend to keep my LR ammo warm while walking to ridge. That nifty camelback tube will be frozen solid in minutes. If I route the tube inside my clothing next to skin, and kept the whole end tucked in close, I can usually keep it flowing. Most of those calls you blow on will last about one or two blows until your saliva or moist breath freezes them inoperable--obviously not a LR issue, only if you also do walking hunt. If so, use diaphram mouth calls or keep 'em warm.

    Also agree big key is never get sweaty, which is really hard to talk yourself into if hiking to your shooting spot. Tough to strip to a T-shirt (smartwool or wicking synthetic) an hour before light, in 0 degree weather, and start hike in. However, at least for my hike, if I don't I'll be dripping sweat in 10 minutes as I hit the first small uphill. Show up with damp/wet clothes next to your body on a breezy ridge, with no sun, and 18" snow and see how long that is fun for :)

    Sleds with high sides work well for getting game out, except when snow is real deep and powdery, and terrain turns flat. Hauled my 13 yr old daughter's first elk like that Christmas Day last year. No fun, but that's another story.
  8. Joe King

    Joe King Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2012
    I don't do it anymore, I live in the northern plains where it seems to blow more the colder it gets. -30 20-30mph wind sucks no matter what. And nothing is moving then anyway. When I lived in the Bitteroot valley I would set up an ambush on a side of a canyon or a draw, snuggle myself down into a crack between rocks with some small branches gathered up and build myself a small fire, or still hunt, your not moving much but your still moving.