Although this will be a spring full of uncertainties due to the sanitary crisis that the Coronavirus, Covid 19, has caused, the roe deer hunting season has already arrived or is on the point of arriving in many European countries. I don’t know what you think, but here at Bowland the whole team is looking forward to this situation finishing as quickly as possible so that we can escape to our hunting zones ..... we can’t wait!!!!
Of course, so that this day arrives, all of us have to give the best of ourselves, be supportive and comply with the established measures to avoid the propagation of this damn virus.
So, chin up and please keep safe!
To return to the principal topic of this blog, we have created a special section called “Season Essentials” on our website. In it we summarize the characteristics, key points and recommendations that we hunters have to follow to choose our perfect hunting kit, and focus on the seasons, styles and modalities of the most frequent hunts of European hunters.
In parallel, throughout the spring and summer we will be completing the information that we are giving you in this section with different blogs, up to a total of seven. They will help you to become authentic “experts” with criterion to choose your hunting gear.
So, as I told you at the beginning we’re going to start with:
Season: Although the roe deer hunting seasons can vary among the different European countries, it takes place during the months of spring, summer and beginning of autumn. In the European regions and destinations where the roe deer is usually hunted, this period of time doesn’t imply any special climatic anomaly that we have to take into account at the time of choosing our kit.
Temperature Range: In these months we can come across a wide range of temperatures. While dawn temperatures at the beginning of spring can fall to about 0*C, in July and August they can climb to above 25-30*C. Therefore, the base of our kit will be formed of a lightweight and breathable first layer – external layer in summer – and a non-bulky insulation layer that will add the necessary thermal insulation in the early hours of the morning.
Weather: If there is a season with changeable weather, it is spring. Sunny days, others rainy and, of course, spring storms are always on the cards. But we also have to take into consideration that the rut of the roe deer centres on the dry end of July and beginning of autumn months. A great challenge for our team, which we solve by including a lightweight, non-bulky, breathable Gore-Tex layer that we can always carry in our backpack and which will be ready when needed.
Daily Activity Length: With some exceptions a roe deer hunt centres on the first hours of the morning and the last of the afternoon. Such short periods of activity greatly simplify our necessities. First of all, exposure time will only be 3 hours, and, secondly, we can take advantage of the midday hours to move or fine-tune our equipment.
Degree of Physical Activity: The most common hunting zones for this species – mid mountain fields, cultivated areas or woodlands – and the peculiar behaviour of this animal, mean that the physical level of this hunt is not too great. Nevertheless, the thermal amplitude of spring mornings and afternoons, together with a style of hunt that frequently intercalates walks and waits make it advisable to always carry a light insulation layer.
Activity Commitment: The months during which this activity takes place, the location of the most common hunting areas, and a hunt departure time that leaves the midday hours at our disposal to readjust our equipment for the next sortie, make this hunt an accessible activity with a low level of commitment.
As we have seen in the previous points, for a roe deer hunt we need a kit capable of absorbing the climatic changes of spring, and the wide temperature ranges we are going to encounter during this activity. This kit is composed of:
1st Layer: Lightweight and breathable, it will be next to our skin in the colder spring mornings and the upper part will be our external layer in the warmer days.
2nd Layer: Light insulation layer which we can easily carry and take off / put on the number of times necessary to always remain well insulated.
3rd Layer: The external layer, formed of a light Windstopper that will give us the comfort necessary for the majority of occasions and a Gore-Tex layer that will protect us from damp pasture lands and spring storms.
Lastly, two fundamental aspects to keep in mind for our roe deer hunting kit: silence and concealment. Due to the unpredictable behaviour of these animals and the areas in which they are normally found, the action takes place at very close range. A degree of concealment correspondent to the terrain in which we move, keeping our face – hands covered and using silent garments are the really important keys for achieving success.
Lightweight and Pack-Lite: Lightness and reduced volume are always desirable characteristics. Even though it’s not normal to have to carry our equipment for long periods during a roe deer hunt, wearing lightweight and non-bulky garments will let us take insulation layers or waterproofs on our sorties without this being a burden.
For this it will be necessary to count on the help of a daypack with a capacity of between 20l and 40l. While the load volume of the daypack will depend on each hunter’s needs, its capacity should allow the transportation of all necessary equipment and still leave extra space to carry meat and trophy.
Breathable and Polygiene: Breathability is a basic feature in our roe deer hunt kit. Although the activity level is not usually very high, the changing temperatures and climatic conditions will convert this feature into an essentiality in our gear.
The wide range of temperatures that can be encountered in only a three hour sortie will be absorbed if we wear garments capable of keeping us completely dry.
The same applies with the typical succession of walks and waits in this modality of hunt. Breathable gear will keep us dry and stop us getting cold while we wait.
The Anti-Microbial (Polygiene) capacity of the 1st layer of clothing means that there will be no trace of sweat on our garments. This hygienic measure not only contributes to greater comfort, but also more effectiveness. As all hunters know, the less body odour we give off, the less the risk of being detected by the roe deer’s sense of smell.
Waterproof: in spring, rain, storms and soggy pasture lands habitually mix with high temperatures. A lethal combination if our waterproof layer isn’t sufficiently lightweight and breathable. The latest generation uninsulated three-layer Gore-Tex garments guarantee the breathability needed in these circumstances.
The tri-layer construction allows sealing the external fabric, which can have different characteristics depending on its function; the Gore-Tex membrane, with its infinite micro pores which guarantee the evacuation of moisture, and the internal fabric, which in this case should give the best possible thermal insulation, with each other. All of this and still maintaining the level of breathability and obtaining ultra-reduced weight and volume.
Other features like ventilation zippers, micro-sealed seams, and internal net pockets will help to increase moisture evacuation and also ventilation.
The waterproof layer is usually formed of three pieces: Jacket, Pants and Gaiters. The use of the jacket and pants will depend on the precipitation during the period of activity. But the gaiters will be the absolute protagonists in the majority of our spring incursions. The rain and morning dew which are frequent in this season usually soak the pasture lands. While wearing rubber boots is normal, the use of some light Gore-Tex gaiters offers many additional benefits: you can wear your usual boots which are safer and more comfortable than the rubber ones; better breathability , and, therefore less heat sensation; you can take them off and keep them in any pocket when the ground is dryer.
Windstopper and Water Repellent: Even though these are desirable features for our roe deer hunting kit, we often don’t give them enough importance. Maybe because in roe deer hunting we don’t expect to have to confront icy winds or snow like on a mountain hunt, or maybe because they are difficult features for hunters to appreciate.
Well boys, they are possibly two of the most important features and those that can give the most comfort to this style of hunt.
Windstopper capacity and the ability to repel water (Durable Water Repellent) combine i n the new GORE-TEX INFINIUM(TM) technology.
If we imagine a typical spring morning, perfect for a roe deer hunt, for sure you have in mind: mild temperatures, chilly breeze, damp grass, and moderate showers.....yep, guaranteed triumph!!!
Well then, the GORE-TEX INFINIUM(TM) technology makes the construction of extremely light, non-bulky, water resistant, and above all very, very breathable top layers possible. While the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) technology stops “moderate rain” affecting us, the Windstopper technology blocks the “chilly breeze” which in moments of low activity pierces us to the bone. All of this with minimum weight and an excellent level of breathability. And always without the feeling of suffocation or oppression produced by thicker, heavier garments, or those with an impermeable membrane. To sum up, perfect for keeping our bodies protected in a range of “mild temperatures”.
It’s not advisable for the external bottom layer (Bottom Layer) to include Windstopper technology. The level of ventilation needed in the legs is always greater. To achieve this it’s necessary to maintain an interior-exterior flow or interchange of air that will provide the necessary comfort.
However, it is advisable that DWR technology, which, besides protecting us from the damp morning grass, reduces drying time to the maximum – 4 times faster than cotton, is included. In this way the dampness will disappear in a matter of minutes.
Insulation: It’s normally unnecessary to include an extremely warm layer in our gear for a roe deer hunt. However, as we have seen previously, the thermal amplitude of the spring months makes a light and effective insulation layer essential.
Nowadays we can find ultra-lightweight, non-bulky (pack-lite) and very breathable garments, which fit in any pocket of our backpack and we can put them there when we want to.
This is possible thanks to the new extremely resilient, thin and lightweight Ripstop external fabrics; to the new thermal insulation layers, like the Polartec Active, which give superior levels of insulation and breathability, along with reduced volume and fill weight.
In the early spring months and at the beginning of autumn, it’s also possible to wear thermal merino wool or brushed polyamide garments which as an external layer or underneath a Windstopper layer offer very high performance and comfort.
A Beanie and gloves with these types of fabrics are a good option. The relationship between their thermal capacity and volume is excellent, allowing excellent efficiency and comfort in a mid-temperature range.
Silent: Due to the unpredictable behaviour of roe deer and where they’re normally found, the action usually takes place at a very close range. Even the slightest noise can put them to flight. Hence, wearing garments with silent external fabrics that give maximum stealth to our movements is really necessary.
This type of garment is easy to come across; we can always wear our pyjamas or tracksuit at home. However, everything gets complicated when we also want the fabrics to be lightweight, breathable, waterproof, windstopper, resistant and long-lasting.
The tri-layer construction which GORE uses in its Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Infinium (TM) technologies solves this problem by putting a wide range of products which fulfill these characteristics at your disposal.
Concealment: As we have mentioned previously, the play distance in roe deer hunting is minimal. For this reason it’s indispensable to use a concealment pattern which integrates us into our surroundings, shatters our humanoid silhouette and lets us get as close as possible without being detected. It’s not enough to conceal our torso and extremities. We also have to conceal our hands and faces. These are the areas of our bodies which we move the most, especially in a more unconscious way.
GORE OPTIFADE SUBALPINE breaks the mold by using a digitally rendered blend of micro and macro patterns to fool animal vision. Created by a renowned team of camouflage and animal vision experts, GORE OPTIFADE Concealment takes into account how ungulates (elk and male deer) see when looking through vegetated terrain. The end result: a pattern that features optimized contrast between dark and bright colours (through detailed shading and colourization). (Simply put, a camo that allows you to effortlessly blend into your surroundings)
Gore Optifade Subalpine is designed specifically for stalking (and ambushing) ungulates from ground level in vegetated terrain and is optimized for engagement ranges of 45 metres and less.
We hope that this blog will be of help to all those at home waiting for the days to pass and looking forward to the time when you can go and search for those “forest gremlins”.
Loads of encouragement from the whole Bowland team!