Hunters taking advantage of Orange Friday at Fleet Farm in Wausau

Fleet Farm Orange Friday
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 2:26 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The gun-deer season officially begins at sunrise on Saturday, but on Friday, many hunters are also up early as they head to Fleet Farm for the annual Orange Friday tradition.

For 12 years, Fleet Farm stores have hosted Orange Friday, and given away deals and merch.

Tracy Scheel is the firearms specialist at Fleet Farm Wausau. She says her father James always loved the atmosphere of Orange Friday. He stood on the sidewalk in the cold for hours every year, waiting to get the free hat. She says that was his favorite part. He also enjoyed talking with other deer hunters about the excitement of hunting and where they were going to hunt next.

“He always told me he enjoyed the camaraderie. He said, you know, it’s nice to be out in the woods, it’s fun to shoot the deer, it’s nice to have the rack to hang on your wall, but just hanging around with the family and have their friends and whoever hunted with them that year. And just enjoying the day together,” Scheel said.

Tracy’s father passed away in 2017, but that doesn’t stop her from letting his memory live on. She collects a hat every year from Orange Friday in his honor and adds it to her collection.

Fleet Farm has a top 10 must-have list for your deer camp. Tracy said most are essentials, but there are a few new luxuries that have made it on the list this year. From beef jerky, Salted Nut Rolls, and hunting trail mix.

“The two biggest reasons that I’ve heard that people don’t stay in the woods for the whole day is because they’re hungry or their cold. We have solutions for both,“ said Scheel.

The food on the list is there for a reason.

“The trail mixes are full of protein, they’re delicious. You can buy them in small sizes, large sizes for the whole hunting party. The jerky is also protein, long-lasting energy,” Scheel added.

One new heating item on the list this year is a Zippo rechargeable hand warmer and power bank.

“Not only will it keep your hands warm, but if you’ve been bored and not seeing anything in the standard playing on your phone, you can recharge it right on this power bank,” Scheel said.

Tracy says being cold while hunting could have consequences.

“You have to keep your whole body warm,” Scheel said. “If there’s one part of you that gets cold, the rest of you being warm isn’t going to matter. If you’re uncomfortable, and you’re not going to sit still, if you’re moving, it’s going to attract the attention of the deer and drive them away.”

The No. 1 item on the list for this season, is the heat-a-seat. It’s a reversible seat with In-Sul-Soft foam inside and it uses your body heat to keep you warm.

“It’s Wisconsin and we’re cold — plain and simple. It’s just easy to carry along, it’s comfortable, it serves multiple purposes, you can throw it on a tree stump, you can put it on your tree stand, you can attach it to your belt and just have it along with you whenever you need to sit down somewhere,” said Scheel.

You can see all 10 most needed items on display at the Wausau location all day during Orange Friday.