Just like this year’s relenting winter weather, the end of this series “Winter Weather Hunting Safety Tips” is also coming to an end. In Part 1 we looked at the dangers caused from colder temperatures and the physical demands winter weather can put on your body. In Part 2 we examined the essential gear to take with you when hunting during the winter months. Now, in Part 3, we will take a look at some of the unexpected dangers you could encounter if hunting in extreme winter weather.
Hunting and tracking animals is much easier in freshly fallen snow. Snow can be a big advantage when hunting, or it can be a giant pain in the neck to deal with—especially when it is falling fast or in whiteout conditions. Blinding snow makes it easy to lose your trail and hard to get your bearings on your exact location: a GPS or compass is certainly a good tool to have on hand at anytime, although it may be little help during a winter storm.
Marking Your Path
Some battery-operated GPS units may not work properly in extreme cold temperatures: when there is a raging winter storm overhead it can be challenging to locate a signal. In the event of a whiteout, or other severe conditions, you will probably have little time to orient your compass, so consider using other methods to mark your trail and exit route. Use reflective or bright orange tape to tie around trees and other visible landmarks.
Do not be stingy with the tape either…
- Tie the tape eye level at intervals 20 to 30 feet apart or closer when you are in heavy timber.
- After you tie a secure knot, leave a foot of extra tape as a tail. When the wind is blowing the long tails are easier to spot and could save your life by helping you find your way back to safety.
Another real and possible danger you may encounter if you hunt during the winter months—especially in the late winter months if it has been an extremely difficult winter for wildlife—is the reality you may not be on the only warm-blooded mammal out hunting. Wolves, coyotes and other predators may also be on the hunt, and if you are successful and harvest an animal, even the slightest smell of blood in the air could attract unwanted visitors to a kill site. If this is a concern…
- Try to quickly field dress the animal in one location.
- If possible, dump or drag the gut pile to another location while you return to the carcass to finish any butchering you may need to do—away from the fresh gut pile. Hopefully, hungry predators will be attracted to the gut pile instead of you.
- Another option to consider, if you know predators will be arriving soon, is to hoist your harvest off the ground with a rope and out of reach of predators. Because of cold temperatures, most game meat will be fine. If you choose this option you still need to be aware the longer the smell of blood is in the area, the more opportunity it has to attract unwelcome predators. When you return to a kill area, you need to be on high alert.
If you plan on doing this, it is a good idea to bring a couple of buddies with you to help watch your back. Keeping a keen eye on what is going on around you, as well as who might be watching your every step, is always important during the winter months.
Take Safe, Ask Yourself These Questions First
Just like hunting in any other season, it is wise to know as much as you can about the area you are hunting. Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before you venture into a winter wonderland.
- What type of predators can be found in the area?
- What type of terrain will you encounter?
- What is the weather forecast for the time frame you will be hunting in this area?
- What are your physical limitations?
- Do you have the proper gear needed to hunt in bitter cold temperatures?
- Do you have necessary survival gear.” href=”http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CategoryListing.aspx?catid=6194&utm_source=blog&utm_medium=social&utm_content=lmetheny&utm_campaign=20140317-social-blog-lmetheny-survivalgear” target=”_blank”>survival gear in your backpack if forced to spend the night outdoors?
- Did you let someone know when and where you would be going and when you plan to return?
- Where is the nearest source of help should you need it?
Hunting during the winter months can net rewards and does have some real advantages. If snow is on the ground, tracking is easier making locating game quicker. Additionally, colder temperatures will put many species on the move as they forage for food, which should increase your odds of success. With these increased advantages comes an increase in danger, which could turn winter hunting into winter survival.
Planning ahead and being prepared for the unexpected things Mother Nature can throw at you is the key to your survival.
What steps have you taken to stay safe during a winter hunt? Ever found yourself in a winter hunt survival situation? Share in the comment section.