After a Big Snow, Explore Your Winter Wonderland

The Christmas season may be over, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want to go walking in a Winter Wonderland.  For many folks across the country, the past couple of days have yielded nearly a foot of snow, if not more.  It might seem important to escape the blinding light piercing through your window blinds as you attempt to sleep in.  Or, maybe staying wrapped up in blankets all day to avoid the extreme cold is a priority.  But for us outdoorsmen, we mustn’t pass up the fantastic opportunity the snow provides.  The snow has created a winter wonderland on our favorite hunting ground, whether it be our own farm, public land, or another conservation area.  Taking a walk around the property you hunt when there is snow on the ground can serve as a great learning experience and provide valuable insight of animal activity.

As the snow gently falls and settles in the fields and below the trees, animals will generally stay hunkered down until it passes.  But not for long.  Soon, the forest floor and the open fields will be covered with tracks from animals traveling and searching for sustenance below the packed snow.

Exploring your hunting area in the snow can yield fantastic knowledge for next hunting season. You might even find a deer highway like this one.

 

In order to optimize your learning experience of animal patterns on your hunting ground, there are several key geographical areas you need to explore.

Fields: Be sure to walk around the edge of any fields.  You will be able to locate key entrance paths and also determine if there are particular points where the deer like to skirt the edge of the field or walk right out into the middle.  You’ll also be able to determine the overall level of activity coming through the field late in the year, which will maybe help you develop some late season strategies for next year.

Food Plots: If you have a tree stand sitting over a food plot, then it is the perfect time to see what kind of traffic is going by there.  The snow will allow you to determine what the activity is like in the food plot as well.  I recently found a major pinch point of activity in one of our main food plots that I wouldn’t have been able to see without snow and now I know exactly where to put a new tree stand.

Fence Lines: Walking along a fence line can be helpful for detecting where the deer are crossing, but it is also helpful if you are pursuing other animals as well.  Coyotes love travelling along fence lines and if you can find a major crossing through the barbed wire, you might be able to set yourself a snare and bag yourself a predator!  The deer and turkeys would sure appreciate it.

Bedding Areas: The important thing to look for when exploring through and around bedding areas in the snow is the direction of the tracks.  Deer often times develop very consistent patterns where they enter the bedding area from one direction, but then leave it in an entirely different direction.  Once you determine if such a pattern exists, put up some trail cameras and find out what time of the day they are coming in or leaving at each point.  That should help you tremendously with strategy and stand location in the future.

General Timber/Forest: Walking through standing timber with snow on the ground will tell you all the same information as everything stated above, but might be especially helpful in determining where the turkeys are spending a lot of their time.  Spring isn’t too far away, so locating where they are scratching around in the undergrowth for acorns or where they are roosting is likely to help you find a good spot to set up once the season opens!

Snow provides outdoorsman with valuable knowledge about animal activity in their favorite hunting spot, but it also allows for an overall unique experience in the woods.  There is no telling what kind of tracks you might find and the fantastic landscapes of ice and snow can be breathtaking.  If the air isn’t too brutally cold, it is also a fantastic opportunity to introduce someone new to the outdoor world, especially young kids who will be fascinated by the tracks they find.  So if you were planning on practicing your hibernation skills after the recent nationwide snowmageddon, drink some coffee or hot chocolate instead and get out to the woods!

 

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