Beating the heat while chasing the critters
Hunting in warm to hot weather presents its own unique challenges: cartridge performance can change, the animals tend to be especially still, and the weather can make you simply miserable. Heatstroke and sunstroke are valid concerns, and the consequences can be severe. While clothing can’t fully obviate these issues, the right stuff can make the difference between minor discomfort and sheer misery.
The first rule for choosing a shirt for warm-weather is that it be made of cotton, or a cotton blend. While modern synthetic fabrics have made great strides in recent years, and are indispensable for insulation and waterproofing, cotton still reigns supreme as the material of choice for hot and/or sticky conditions. The fabric obviously also should be lightweight within reason, and the shirt should be fairly loose-fitting.
Tilley Endurables of Toronto, Canada has been offering high-quality outdoor wear for over a quarter of a century. While their product offering is broad, their forte seems to be in apparel for warm and hot weather. Pictured here is their tropical-weight bush shirt. This shirt offers protection from the sun, has ample pocket space, and most importantly, is comfortable even in steamy climates. Despite its high poly content (65%, which made me look twice) it breathes admirably. The bush shirt can be had in either long or short sleeves, and in a handful of color selections.
I know even before writing this section that a lot of people are going to disagree with me on the issue of whether to wear long or short pants while big-game hunting? My personal bias is that I would never, ever wear shorts into a hunt, but shorts seem to be hugely popular among men (especially younger men) today. Whatever your preference, though, there are some common guidelines.
Your warm-weather hunting pants should have lots of pocket space. I mean LOTS of pocket space. Consider that you’re probably going to want to forego a vest, and probably a backpack too. Whatever you intend to carry, therefore, will need to fit into pants pockets. This is one reason I like the Masai shorts from Tilley (pictured) — they have 11 generously-sized pockets for cramming all your stuff when you’re trying to travel light. (Tilley also offers a variety of long slacks for those of us who desire a bit more protection.)
Pants and shorts should also be reasonably sturdy: forget about nylon running shorts. It’s hard to imagine a big-game hunting scenario that doesn’t involve at least a little pushing through brush and undergrowth; you don’t want your pants snagging and tearing at every opportunity.
When hunting in warm or hot weather, you need a hat that will shield your entire face from the midday sun. Ballcaps, despite their popularity, generally just don’t cut it; you need a wide brim all the way around your head. Since you’re going to put your face on a rifle stock, this also means that the hat’s brim can’t be wire-reinforced or too stiff; it has to get out of the way easily.
While Tilley makes a variety of clothing, their original (and most famous) products are their hats. An excellent choice would be their Airflo LTM6 model (pictured), which sports a brim that’s about 3″ and only weighs 4 ounces. It’s water-repellent (yes, it can rain in hot weather), durable and stylish.
Another interesting Tilley hat is their Insect Shield T4IS (pictured), which uses a third-party repellent of the same name. (More information on Insect Shield can be found here. The Insect Shield hat helps keeps mosquitos, ticks, gnats and other tiny annoyances away, which should promote a happier hunting experience.
A final word about Tilley hats: they’re absolutely wonderful, but in my experience they tend to run a bit small. Consider buying a size larger than you normally do.
A little extra protection
If you’re hunting in hot weather with lightweight pants (or shorts), or if you just want a little extra protection, a company named Warwick Mills makes a variety of protective clothing, notably the SnakeArmor line. SnakeArmor is a light but extremely puncture-resistant fabric that Warwick makes into pants, chaps and gaiters. The SnakeArmor fabric was actually tested on live rattlesnakes (I’ve seen the video, and man, those serpents look MAD!), and should protect you against briar, thorns and pretty much any snake you might stumble across.