Published in December 2004

Snow.  Cold and white, fluffy or frozen, it’s marvelous stuff.  Skiers love it and snowmobilers, and hunters love it too, or should.  Last year we had an open winter, one of several recently, when it hardly snowed at all, but this winter is shaping up to be a cold one with lots of the white stuff.  If so, and assuming  new falls are moderate instead of heavy, it’s going to be a golden time for gunners of almost any persuasion.

Take deer hunting, for example.  The gun season was excellent and the muzzleloader hunt very good, but there’s still plenty of deer out there, and any day or night that produces a several inch snow with reasonable weather following is made for archery folk.  You’ll need to be a tough and hardy individual or group, and it’s always good to wear a white suit purchased perhaps, as mine was, from a karate or judo group, something with a loose fitting top and bottom.

Then you head forth looking for fresh tracks made the night before, and start to follow them.  Eventually, you’ll jump the animal(s), and it’s going to bound away.  So, you keep following, jump it again and again.  If hunting with partners, try to place others where the deer might cross, but even alone you’ll drive them crazy.  They can’t see you well in white outfits, and they’re curious creatures.  Gradually, they’ll stop longer and longer to watch and wonder, and eventually stop in range.

The last time I tried snow deer hunting, some years ago, I did it with three friends, and we flushed a herd of five does.  They did exactly as described above, and about two in the afternoon stopped in an open woodlot to bounce back and forth snorting and flashing white tails.  It was a bad move for them.   

Rabbit hunting can be wonderful on snow, too.  Like deer they do their feeding at night and a fresh snowfall will show every move they made over night-time hours.  It saves a lot of time.  No tracks around this brushpile?  Keep moving.  Tracks leading in means there’s probably a cottontail waiting.  Kick it hard.  You’ll often find tracks in cattails around farm ponds too, some here, none there.  Check the some here.  And it’s not unusual to find tracks where you’d think nothing would be, maybe a little grass swale in open soybeans.  Easy pickings when one jumps out and has no place to go.

Snow is also great for ringneck pheasant hunting.  There are mighty few wild ringnecks around this area, but the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks birds several weekends at selected wildlife area.  Most of those birds are killed almost immediately, but some are always missed and gradually wander back into the prime cover and food patches of the area.

So, you pick good cover and start walking, looking for those splayed tracks of a ringneck cock.  When you find some, track patiently.  It might take a couple of hours to flush the bird and even then, it might flush wild.  But you mark it down, then start tracking again.  And again. Eventually, you should put the bird up within range and get your well deserved shot.

Finally, don’t forget foxes and coyotes.  And the tactics are the same, though you might switch to a flat shooting little rifle with scope for this business.  If you hunt alone, pick up a set of tracks and start walking, stopping occasionally to check ahead with binoculars.  If you hunt with  a partner, have him stay off to the side, hopefully on higher ground while you follow the prints.

Red fox stand out beautifully against white snow and are easy to see.  They don’t seem to worry much about a flat shooting rifle, either.  Coyotes are tougher, but still readily visible, and either animal makes a good way to spend a winter morning.

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