It's wicked cold here in the West and from the looks of national weather maps everyone is getting a taste of the cold this winter. Hunting in severe cold weather requires special planning with clothing, gear and tactics. I layer myself with clothing like Under Armour Coldgear (www.underarmour.com) and make sure my guns are lightly oiled to prevent frozen components. When you're planning your tactic for any species remember that cold weather can change the habits and patterns of game from waterfowl to elk.
Here's one simple rule to remember. Animals go into conservation mode when temperatures plummet. One would surmise that during an Arctic blast animals would race to eat to fuel their furnace. Instead, many hunker down to conserve the calories they have already gathered. Sitting tight in mini hibernation actually extends their energy longer than braving the conditions to scrounge for more food.
I've seen this over the years. While goose hunting the Missouri River country during below zero days the geese would sit on their roosts until midmorning or even midday day before heading to feed. They'd feed just once instead of off and on all day.
I've seen similar behavior from deer and predators. Instead of being up and feeding at sunrise on a subzero morning, animals wait for the sun to warm the landscape before they begin to hunt for food.
What this means to you and me is that we should tailor our techniques to conserve energy as well. I usually start a bit later on a subzero morning realizing the game is going to do the same. If I'm out there before sunrise I may be a frozen Popsicle by shooting light and even then the game may not be out and about.
Here's hoping you're having some hunting luck in the Siberia-like conditions we're battling right now.
What makes you think I'm not having fun? Could you pass me that ear? I didn't realize it had fallen off.