by Chris Larsen
Today, the Northwoods is transitioning to The Great White North. The snow has been falling for a solid 14 hours and is expected to continue for several more. These are not the first snowflakes of the season. However, this is the first real storm of the season. The wind is howling, snow is blowing all over, and the mercury is predicted to dip below zero and stay there for a few days. That's right, the projected high tomorrow is -2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The family made a stop at the grocery store last night. We made sure we had everything we needed to get through the weekend just in case there was no chance of getting out. The grocery store was packed to the gills with folks doing the same thing. As I peeked out the back door last night, deer were sharing in this ritual. They were eating what they could before their food sources were buried under 12+ inches of snow. Breeding season is coming to an end and deer are becoming more focused on survival than procreation.
This storm will pass and the woods will go back to normal. Diehard deer hunters are still sitting in their stands. Bow season continues here in Wisconsin. But for me, the season has shifted. I’m thinking less about antlers and more about ice augers. Ice is building quickly and the fish underneath are actively feeding. Early ice is the best fishing we’ll see until ice out approaches.
Just because winter is arriving doesn’t mean I’m putting away my boom stick. Several dozen squirrels harassed me during deer season and I fully intend to exact my revenge this winter. I also spotted some thick habitat with coyotes moving in and out pretty actively. I’m looking forward to introducing them to my .243. The opportunity to find some sheds also keeps me up at night. There are some awesome bucks in our area and many of them are able to steer clear of bullets and arrows. Finding their sheds is just as fun.
Winter is a test. A test for outdoorsmen, but a bigger test for the permanent residents of the wild. When our day is done, we head back to the truck, then to our homes. Deer, squirrels, and coyotes stay in the woods. Nature tests their strength everyday and night. It’s an exercise in Darwinism. The weak and sick become victims. The survivors use their cunning and strength to continue life for another year. Keep in mind, without the stark reality of winter the rebirth of spring wouldn’t exist.
As I stare out the window at snow stacking up on the porch and the wind whipping white flakes into a frenzy, it is hard to believe that we’re only about 90 days from the first day of spring. Our turkey season starts soon after. For those who aren’t snobbish about the game they pursue, the outdoors lifestyle never comes to an end. 2010 is winding down and my deer season is officially over. But despite the tough hand mother nature is sure to deal us in the next few months, we keep going... it beats the alternative.