Hunting and Outdoors

Women Afield—Winter Weather Hunting Safety Tips, Part 2

Icy snowy road heading into a stand of pine trees and the mountains

Hunting during the cold winter months can be exciting as well as productive. As we learned in Part 1 of this series on “Winter Weather Hunting Safety Tips,” one of big dangers is hypothermia. In Part 2, we take a closer look at some of essential survival gear you will want to take along to keep you safe in dangerous weather conditions.

The Story of the Trapper Who Survived

Icy snowy road heading into a stand of pine trees and the mountainsWhether you plan on being out overnight or returning home before dark, it is still a good idea to carry a backpack with a few essential items and make sure they are targeted toward survival in unpredictable conditions. The story of a local trapper comes to mind anytime I head afield during the winter months.

The trapper had only planned to make a quick run of his trapline before an approaching winter storm struck, instead he found himself unprepared for the dangerous situation. Luckily, he was wearing adequate clothing and proper layering but other than a pocketknife, his gun was all he had with him.

The snow had already started falling at a rapid pace. While he was checking the last of his traplines, he stepped into a snow-covered hole, breaking his leg. With daylight quickly fading, severe pain setting in and a winter storm bearing down, he knew he had to find shelter and pray help would arrive before he froze or went into shock. Although he did not have any survival tools on him, he did two things right.

  • First, he told his wife he would be back before dark.
  • Second, he told her exactly where he would be going.

When he did not return home as promised she knew exactly where to tell the search party to look. He was found several hours later cold and in pain, although alive. He admitted later he would have never survived the night in the frigid temperatures if help had not arrived so quickly.

Critical Actions

To stay safe, it is vital to tell someone where you will be hunting and when you expect to return home. Time is critical in emergency situations, so be specific about your location and when you will return. Or, if possible, use the buddy system and take someone with you. This is a much safer option especially when weather conditions become dangerous. If you still plan on venturing out alone, at the very minimum, pack extra gear you may need in an emergency situation. Taking along a lightweight backpack, with necessary items to help you survive the unexpected, is a no brainer for the experienced winter hunter.

What to Put in Your Pack

The pack should contain a few essential items such as…

  • A cell phone (even in some of the most remote areas of the country you maybe able to pick up a signal and call for help)
  • Several fire starting tools (such as waterproof matches, lighter and a magnesium stick).
  • Because you may not be able to find dry material to start a fire, tuck a few petroleum-soaked cotton balls into an old prescription bottle to use when you need to start a fire fast
  • A Mylar emergency survival blanket takes up little room in your pack and could save your life
  • A flashlight and a survival candle, which can generate a little extra warmth if you are in a snow cave or other shelter
  • An extra hat and gloves (because outerwear may get wet—and wet equals cold)
  • Surveyor’s tape
  • Heat packs
  • A few snacks and water
  • Any medications you need
  • Lightweight snowshoes (if there is the potential for heavy snows you can strap these on your pack)

Much like the winter weather many have experienced this season, the end of the series “Winter Weather Hunting Safety Tips” is in sight. So stay tuned for Part 3 to learn about the unexpected dangers you may encounter while hunting during the winter months.

What do you carry in your survival pack when you head out to hunt in the winter? Share in the comments section.


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