As hunters, we know there’s nothing better than a little snow during hunting season.
Opening day of deer season is already a very magical time for us. But it’s even better when there’s a good dusting of snow on the ground come sunrise.
That might be counterintuitive to some. They wonder why it would be better to hunt in the colder weather that snow requires. They ask, “Wouldn’t it just be miserable?”
Well, yes. If you don’t do things right.
Below are some good tips and tactics to keep you warm in your treestand or ground blind when the snow is flying.
Let It Snow
So why in the world would snow be a good thing when you have to perch your rear end in a tree all day? First, colder weather and snow usually means that deer movement will be higher, so your chance of seeing a big buck goes up dramatically.
However, snow also means better visibility of a brown deer against the now white backdrop, easier tracking of deer or blood trails, more sign left behind from beds, and muted footsteps on the forest floor. All of these things make spot and stalking a good approach.
A few inches of snow provide all the clues you need to follow, and muffle your approach if you take it slowly. The exception is when the snow ices over and the crust sounds like you’re walking with bags of potato chips on your feet.
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty details of how to hunt with snow on the ground, whether that’s on opening day or late season. We’ll focus on maximum comfort and maximum effectiveness.
The first thing you’ll need is layers of insulation to keep the chill from creeping into your bones. I start with a base layer of midweight merino wool or polyester clothing. These materials help wick sweat away from your body quickly. In the cold, the drier you are the more comfortable you are.
Then I add layers of wool or polyester insulating garments, depending on the temperature outside. I finish it off with a good wind and waterproof shell. If legal in your state, you may want to use a white camouflage outer layer, especially if you’re hunting on the ground.
Don’t forget to utilize gloves, hats, scarves, facemasks, and anything else you need to keep your extremities warm. Thermacell offers rechargeable boot and hand warmers that work quite well. The treestand is no time to act macho. Layer up as much as you need to if you expect to sit all day in the snow.
While sitting in a stand, it’s good to adopt some winter camping food tricks. Consume some high protein/fat snacks (e.g., cheese, sausage, jerky, nuts, etc.) to keep your metabolism roaring hot without experiencing a sugar high and the inevitable crash.
The only real thing you need to remember when treestand hunting in the snow is to approach your stand carefully. If the snow is soft and powdery, you should be able to sneak right up to it without detection. If it’s crusted over, try moving quickly through it and imitate a deer’s cadence.
Let out a few grunts occasionally, and you might be able to ease a bedded deer a little. Be careful when climbing into your stand, however, as the snow and ice make things hazardous. Use a safety harness!
If you’ll be doing a spot and stalk hunt, the tactics are a little different. Move very slowly through the woods or field, keeping a low profile, and stop often to glass ahead of you with your binoculars. Ideally, you’ll want to spot a deer well ahead of you to give you time to make a shot.
Hunting in the snow is quite simply one of the best ways to spend your time. Capitalize on the conditions by following these tips, and you’ll have a more successful and comfortable season.