Your hunting clothes should consist of a base layer, a mid-layer, a jacket, and hunting pants. Sometimes people will layer hunting pants, but this isn’t typical. This type of system will allow you to remove and add clothing depending on the temperature and the amount of activity.
A good pair of hunting boots and a hat or cap should also be part of your hunting outfit.
Large game hunting
Large game hunting is the most difficult to dress for. This is because you can spend many days out in the bush, and often there is a lot of hiking involved.
We can really break down large game hunting into two types, and each will warrant a different clothing setup.
Spot and stalk
Spot and stalk hunting involves the most footwork. The aim of spot and stalk hunting is to hike your way to a high vantage point where you can glass a wide area to spot your target.
After you have found a nice buck, you need to work your way towards it.
To be successful on this type of hunt, you need to be silent, scent-free, and efficient.
Most spot and stalk hunters will opt for using the layering system.
Stand hunting requires an equally thought-out system of clothing. Again here, the layer system works best.
Where you are stand hunting will determine what to wear. If you drive up to 200 yards from your stand, the clothing will be a lot different than if you have to hike 5 miles to get to your stand.
However, one thing that remains the same for all stand hunting is that you’re likely going to be sitting for hours no matter how you get to it.
Merino wool is going to be the best choice of clothing for stand hunting. It offers the best in warmth, is moisture-wicking, and is lightweight.
For stand hunting, I like to use merino as my base layer for cold hunts. I use a mid-layer then because I hike to my stand, after that a waterproof jacket.
One thing not to overlook if you are planning a cold morning stand hunt is a good pair of warm socks. Again I use merino wool here again.
A good pair of gloves will also be necessary. I like the Sitka Merino Glove for stand hunting.
Waterfowl hunting can also be broken down into two types decoy hunting and jump shooting.
Duck hunting over decoys
Decoy hunting is what most people will think of if you mention duck hunting.
This type of hunting requires three things from your clothing; it needs to be waterproof, warm, and camouflaged.
The first is a given, hunting ducks over decoys by a lake or river; you’re going to get wet.
I do most of my duck hunting in the rain. The wetter and windier it is, the closer the flybys are. On occasion, you might get away without waterproof clothes, but for most of your duck hunting, you will need waterproofs.
Next, it needs to be warm. I’m guilty of underestimating this one, On occasion, I don’t put on enough layers, and I would be sitting there wishing the morning flight would just end.
The third thing and one of the most important is camouflage. Ducks have extremely keen eyesight. If you look out of place, they will not decoy into you.
Pick a pattern that blends into the area you are hunting in. I do a lot of hunting in reedy areas, and for me, Shadow Grass works really well.
Jump shooting for ducks is a little different. Most jump shooting is done by walking up river banks. For this, I tend to wear whatever is most comfortable. Usually, it’s quite similar to my upland gear, or a mix of my spot and stalk gear and upland.
I don’t need to layer as much here because I’m only out for a short while, and it’s not going to get strenuous.
A good pair of footwear is essential. I like to wear my Alphaburly Pros. I find they are comfortable enough for long hikes and waterproof so I can get in some long grass, weedy, or marshy areas.
Upland hunting is an area people don’t usually put a lot of thought into dressing for. Mention to someone about clothing for deer hunting and you will get a story back, do the same for upland hunting, and you will get a blank expression.
However, proper clothing for upland hunting can make or break your hunt. Now, if I’m going to walk a few fence lines, I will put on a pair of old jeans, an upland jacket, and a cap.
If I’m going out for a solid day of upland hunting, I need an extremely good pair of upland boots like Danner Pronghorn. I will also use a pair of chaps; these are worth their weight in gold and allow me to get to many places other hunters can’t, especially if you’re pheasant hunting without a dog.
Next on my list is a jacket, a good upland jacket should be lightweight, have plenty of pockets, and be durable.
A good pair of hunting glasses is necessary for upland hunting as well as a cap.
Small game hunting
Small game hunting is one type of hunting where you can be more casual with your clothing.
Most small game hunters head out in nothing more than some old clothes they have lying around.
The clothes don’t need to be camouflaged or scent blocking as it’s relatively easy to get within range of small game without spooking them.
How to layer for hunting
As we’ve mentioned a few times throughout this article, the best system for hunting clothes is a layering system.
A layering system works in such a way that you can add and remove clothes where necessary.
For example, you would want to be fully layered up in a tree stand as you are not moving. However, once you tag a buck, you will be packing out a lot of meat; this is surely going to be sweat-inducing, so you might want to remove a layer, which would be the outer layer.
A layering system consists of 3 main types of layers
- Base Layer
- Outer Layer
The base layer is the one that will be closest to your skin and some may argue the most important layer.
The idea of the base layer is that it can provide enough warmth without being too restrictive all the while it wicks sweat from your body.
The conditions you are hunting in will determine the best material for a base layer.
Merino wool is a superb material for a base layer for cold weather or stand hunting.
Synthetic material is best for hot weather spot and stalk.
The mid-layer is designed to trap heat. This is your insulation layer, and sometimes you may need to double up on this layer.
The mid-layer is the layer that allows you to tackle extreme changes in condition. If it gets too cold you can double up, it you get too warm you can remove a mid-layer.
Mid-layers must be breathable to prevent moisture build-up.
Your outer layer is your protection layer and what protects you from the driving wind and rain.
The outer layer will also heavily depend on the conditions you plan on hunting in.
Some conditions may call for heavily waterproof outer layers, where others may require light breathable outer layers.
It takes a little trial and error before developing a layering system that works for you.
Is camo necessary for hunting
Most hunting clothes you will find are camouflaged; however, it may not be necessary depending on the type of hunting you are doing.
For large game hunting, it’s much more important to have scent-free and silent clothing.
For duck hunting or turkey hunting, it’s important to have camouflage hunting. Both ducks and turkeys have excellent eyesight and are extremely wary birds.
Most large game animals like deer and elk have poor eyesight and will use their hearing and sense of smell before ever spotting you.
However, if you are large game hunting it’s no harm in going in camo. The idea of the camo is to break up your pattern, and this would definitely be useful if you are within bow range of a trophy elk.
Camo patterns are designed to the terrain you are hunting, for example, if you are duck hunting, you might use a Shadow Grass camo pattern. Whereas if you are mountain goat hunting, you might use a Sub-Alpine camo pattern.
Any pattern that breaks up your outline will benefit you on a hunt. Many hunters still use old military camo patterns to hunt.
More hunts are ended early because of inefficient preparation. Nobody enjoys being out in the field with wet soggy clothes or being too cold. Likewise, you don’t want to turn up to a duck hunt in blaze orange.
It’s important to prepare your clothing for you hunt properly in order to be successful.
The layering system is the most successful method for staying comfortable on a hunt.