Ice ac­tiv­ity and more now that cold is here

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - JOHN VANCE Out­door Trails runs ev­ery other week. Con­tact John Vance at out­[email protected]­e­culink.com.

Our re­cent snow­storm has given us what many re­gard as a North­ern win­ter now. Much ac­tiv­ity will be un­der­way, both for the snow­mo­bil­ing com­mu­nity, ice fish­ers and snow­shoers.

Do be aware that the re­cent snow also adds much weight to frozen wa­ter bod­ies, es­pe­cially large lakes and river sys­tems. Of­ten this weight will cause pres­sure cracks, which can be quite dan­ger­ous if you get too close to them. The weight of the snow will push the ice down and this causes an up­welling of wa­ter, and at best, cause a lot of slush on the top of the sur­round­ing ice. Such slushy con­di­tions are abysmal for ice fish­ing, and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous for those us­ing a snow­ma­chine, es­pe­cially novices. Never stop your snow­mo­bile in slush as it can and will freeze into the ice if left for any length of time. If you have through a slush area, be sure to give your snow­mo­bile a good run on dry snow be­fore stop­ping to get all the slush out of the track and me­chan­i­cal train of the ma­chine. If you don’t do this, the track and me­chan­ics, es­pe­cially metal and plas­tic, may well freeze up and cause you ex­ten­sive grief be­fore you can run the ma­chine again.

For ice fish­ers, your feet will get cold much quicker if stand­ing in wa­ter on top of the ice. For sure you need fully wa­ter­proof boots.

Ob­ser­vant folk will have no­ticed the day­light hours get­ting longer and by mid Fe­bru­ary, ex­pect to feel more warmth and power com­ing back into the sun­shine.

The length­en­ing of the day­light has trig­gered the es­trus cy­cle in the canid fam­ily and fox, coy­otes and tim­ber wolves will now be in heat.

Snow­shoe­ing is a great way to see wildlife as it is far more stealthy than us­ing a mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle such as a snow­mo­bile or ATV. Those wish­ing some ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­er­cise and see our North­ern na­ture at it’s finest would be wise to get a set of snow­shoes. Usu­ally you can pick them up for un­der a hun­dred bucks, and there is no bet­ter way to see wildlife undis­turbed. I used to hunt fox, wolves and coy­otes us­ing a mouth blown call and did quite well when I was younger. Sadly, now we need a coy­ote and wolf li­cence in ad­di­tion to a small game li­cence to hunt them – but only in the North. In south­ern On­tario, you can hunt coy­otes and fox on just the small game li­cence. Here in the North at present, you can hunt fox and rab­bits on your small game li­cence as most other sea­sons are closed.

If you do get out snow­shoe­ing don’t fig­ure on long trips un­til your mus­cles are ready for longer trips, es­pe­cially if you are get­ting older as I am. If you plan on hunt­ing on snow­shoes, do uti­lize a sling for your shot­gun or ri­fle so you can sling it over your shoul­der of­fer­ing you bet­ter bal­ance whilst walk­ing.

Lay­er­ing a must for snow­shoe travel, al­low­ing you to take off cloth­ing if needed. Wear sun­glasses no mat­ter what out­door ac­tiv­ity you in­tend on par­tic­i­pat­ing in, and plas­tic frames are not as apt to freeze to your skin.

Be­cause most heat loss if from the head and neck ar­eas, do wear a toque or bal­a­clava in cold weather, and I re­gard the coy­ote hats with the drop down flaps as not just stylish – but ex­tremely prac­ti­cal.

What are you see­ing on your out­ings? Please do share the good, the bad and the ugly – I love to chat with other out­doorsy North­ern­ers.

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