By: Jason D. Mills
It’s January, which, for many archers, means cold-weather hunting. Whether you’re hunting small game such as squirrel or rabbits; or you’re headed out to bag that late season buck, there are many difficulties unique to a cold weather hunt.
Here are five tips to remember before heading out:
- 1. Practice shooting while wearing all of your gear
- All those extra layers can hinder how you aim. Bulky gloves can affect your release and limit your ability to feel your bow’s grip – try our Down Under Wool Gloves instead. A face mask could get in the way of your anchor or disturb the string upon release – our Three-in-One Spandex Facemasks are warm and flexible, so you won’t feel bogged down. An unwieldy jacket could be louder than expected when you attempt to draw and could limit your range of motion. The point is, don’t make any assumptions about your gear.
- 2. Remember to move
- From time to time, it’s a good idea to stand up and move a little while hunting in cold weather. Sitting for long periods of time will lead to tired, cold muscles. Simply alternating from standing to sitting can keep the blood flowing, your muscles limber and your mind focused. It’s also a good idea to draw your bow at least once or twice an hour – this will keep your muscles warm and keep your bow from freezing up and making a lot of noise while drawing back. It’s not a bad idea to pack some hand and toe warmers as well.
- 3. Hunt the ground
- When the temperature drops hunters are often better off hunting ground blinds near a good food source or a natural funnel than in a tree stand. The lack of foliage during an end of season hunt usually means many of your early and mid-season trees lack the cover they had just a few short weeks ago. A ground blind will be much warmer and you will be less exposed than in a tree that has lost all of its leaves. It’s also a good idea to look for swamps or pine thickets covered in snow – both are warmer than the surrounding area and make great bedding cover.
- 4. Find the food
- Thick snowfall forces deer and small game into survival mode. Remember that nut-laden flat or fruit filled orchard you saw early in the season? Now would be the time to be there waiting the first afternoon after a snow storm, because deer will be looking for that food. It doesn’t have to be anything that specific, but you will want to find quality food where deer and small game will feel secure. Many deer will look to flowering plants during the latter part of the year – weeds and wild flowers on a southern facing slope are a great food source for deer in the winter and, in turn, a great place for the late season hunt.
- 5. Hunt the second rut
- A doe that did not get bred earlier in the year will often reenter estrus in early to mid-December. If you find a doe in heat, identified by the droplets of red blood she leaves in the snow when she urinates, follow her. If an estrous doe finds and feeds in the forb you’re hunting it will likely prove to be an irresistible breeding opportunity to any nearby buck.
A successful late season hunt can be cold, but it is often worth the effort. Many archers enjoy the brisk weather and the challenge of cold weather bow hunting. However, cold weather can lead to frost bite and hypothermia if not prepared for correctly. That’s why it’s important to stay warm, stay safe and remember the fundamentals.
We’d love to hear from you; what tips and tricks have you found to be successful in your own cold weather hunt? Let us know in the comments.
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