Ice activity and more now that cold is here
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.