GATHERING WOOL

I wore a pair of wool hunting pants to a wedding one time.

They were olive-drab, whipcord wool pants made by Johnson Woolen Mills in Vermont. It was an outdoor wedding on a bright, cool day in October. The pants were new then and didn’t look out of place at all.

I still own that same pair after 25 years and they have been through countless deer hunts, snow storms, and early-spring Allagash trips. Despite some ragged cuffs and a few barbed-wire snags the pants are as good as new. Sadly, I cannot say as much for the marriage that was celebrated that day.

I have dallied over the years with cold-weather clothes made from other materials. Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and other space-age polymers have lured me away in the past. But I have always returned to wool.

And as I prepare for the fall hunting season — taking each wool garment out of storage is like welcoming an old friend to the season opener.

I still have the green-and-black checked wool jacket I wore on that bittersweet day, at age 16, when I killed my first deer. There is a red wool hunting cap that my dad wore every winter for the last ten years of his life. Also, a pair of extra-heavy wool pants that I slipped on over my dress slacks for the daily winter drive to work at my first post-college job. I drove a 1971 Type-III Volkswagen Fastback, with no heat, back then.

The new-comers in the storage bin are just as welcome. Soft Merino wool is now all the rage with outdoor vendors. A few years ago I discovered the Cresta Wool line of base layers at L.L. Bean — I wear them like a second-skin from mid-October to spring break-up and beyond. I own Smart-Wool socks in virtually every weight and length imaginable.

I’m pretty sure I can find a pair that’s appropriate for the next wedding I attend.

 

 

 

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About jimandrews

Jim Andrews is an attorney, Registered Maine Guide, writer, husband, dad and sixth-generation Mainer who grew up in the hills of Oxford County and now lives in Farmington. He is a monthly columnist for the The Maine Sportsman magazine where he focuses on muscle-powered travel in the outdoors and specific applications to fishing and hunting in Maine. Late in the fall of 2010 Jim suffered a mid-life crisis and decided that the cure would be a self-propelled trip from Kittery to Fort Kent in the summer of 2012. The preparation, planning and execution of that trip will be covered here -- as well as his own ongoing attempts to reintroduce physical effort back into the increasingly-motorized world of fishing and hunting in Maine.