A black and white full pagead was not something I was used to seeing in my favorite magazines. I don’t remember the exact copy of the ad, but I do remember the two names attached to the ad, Optifade and Sitka. This was several years ago, and since entering the hunting gear scene, the overall standard for hunting clothing has been set and re-set by the people behind Sitka Gear.
For years I looked at Sitka Gear with a staried look in my eye and a wishful thought. Until one of my best friends and closest hunting partners, my father, began building his Sitka system for his western adventures. My wishful thinking became planning.
After hitting the buy now button on my Core T Base Layer, I waited with abated breath for the package to arrive. Sure, I’ve tried my dad’s gear, and he has hunted elk successfully with Sitka Gear. Sure, this is an older model, but I am out of college and don’t have the most disposable income in the world, but am willing to invest in quality gear. Was it going to be worth the investment?
From the mountains to the swamps, quality gear turns cruddy days into huntable days.
Holding the new shirt up after tearing the package apart, I knew the materials which made this gear where going to make a difference in how I felt in the woods. Truthfully, I don’t think I took the Core T base Layer off for two days just to get used to the feel. What do I mean by feel? I am not restricted in my movement. I am excited to move while wearing this shirt, even when sweating. This is due to the 4 Way Stretch Polyester Bi-Component Fabric. It reminds me of cutting firewood. If you think about the difficulty to cut against the grain of a log, you really can’t cut well or efficiently. Thus by having a 4 Way Stretch Fabic Pattern, my body is not moving against any fabric grain. Which simply means, easier and more comfortable motion.
The Western Rockies are not a place to have mediocre gear.
After two days of being in the house, it was time to field test the Core T Base Layer. With my deer season well over, ducks and geese were the only option. Late season waterfowling is feast or famine, usually combined with temperatures more suited for the Iditarod. Hauling dozens of decoys into a field or paddling into some waterway means heavy clothing and sweating up a storm.
I picked the open country pattern to use more frequently out west this fall.
Do you hate the clammy feeling you get when sweating while wearing heavy clothing? Sure you do, plus it makes you itch and freeze later in the hunt. Not fun. When we left the house to hunt a corn field, the car thermometer read somewhere in the ballpark of 17 degrees. However, while racing daylight to set three dozen plus decoys and brush in the blinds with a cutting north wind, I sweated, but I didn’t feel clammy. While burrowed into the blind for cover, I wasn’t overheating, but I wasn’t cold either. I live about three miles from one of the Great Lakes and north winds are downright mean. For once I was wearing a breathing base layer. No sweat builds up on my skin and my personal climate was being controlled. My excitement level and post purchase happiness over a shirt were more than any clothing garment I’ve ever owned.
Dad packing out the final load of his public land 7×7. No easy task.
After several days of hunting, I noticed the lack of something else, odor. I typically will wash most of my clothing every 2-3 days during deer season to remove the odor grime. After several days of hunting and hardly noticing any odor, my mind could barely contain itself thinking of this coming September and being less concerned about odor build up on my clothing while 15 miles into the elk mountains. After researching the elements of the shirt closer, Sitka weaves silver encapsulated technology into the fabric. If you are not familiar with the odor destroying properties of silver, silver has the most effective antibacterial ability of any metals. Silver must be ionized by coming into contact with moisture, I.E. sweat. By sweating, you are charging your shirt and the silver ions then attack and destroy odor causing bacteria. This shirt lifts sweat away from your skin, destroys bacteria and has 4 Way sStretch Fabric…… this shirt is practically alive.
But my full and utter trust was gained on an unusual adventure. I love any adventure which pushes my limits, no secret. When my brother had dragged the ice fishing gear into the kitchen for a night ice fishing trek, I looked at the gear, then looked at him and said, “We’re really doing this aren’t we?” He nodded. If you have never tried night time ice fishing mid winter let me sum things up like this. The air is so cold, it is deceiving. Ever cut yourself with a shaving razor or even slid your finger over a broadhead? You don’t know you’ve cut yourself until you see blood. The air on the frozen bay cut with deception, but I was wearing my Core T Base Layer. Yes, in general, we were cold, but again, my core stayed regulated even in the negative degree weather, and I was able to move comfortably.
Already looking forward to using this shirt next season.
I really can’t wait for next bow season.
Yet, there is a bigger story behind why I like this Sitka base layer. This base layer is a step toward re-claiming something I lost. A story I never talked about.
When I was 17 I had the chance to go elk hunting with my Dad. A basic DIY backcountry bow hunt was my senior present from my parents for hard work, and staying out of trouble. It was supposed to be one of the greatest trips of my life. I didn’t grow up on cartoons, I grew up watching every Primos and Realtree video I could get my hands on. I grew up tagging along with my Dad and this elk hunt was more than an elk hunt. It was the chance to live out dreams and apply every hunting skill I’d been taught. But a month before we left, I got sick. Like really sick, to the point where I was on the couch writhing in uncontrollable pain. In and out of the hospital for months, I was only able to go through the motions on the hunt I had worked so hard to reach. I essentially missed my dream hunt. Heartbroken, distraught, angry. Even as I write this, there is a small knot in my stomach as I clench the left side of my jaw. Six years later, I have been healed. That sickness made me tougher, and God had it happen for a reason no doubt. But I’ve got a little extra motivation with a score to settle and a bull to tag.
Training with a ferocity to return to this.
I bought this piece of Sitka Gear to continue the building process in re-reaching this goal. I bought this gear because I refuse to let the past define me and make me a victim. I bought this gear because I will train with ferocity to return to the mountains and settle the score with mother nature.
I Am Building My Sitka System To Seek Redemption.
Where Eagles Dare, Push The Wild Limits