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How To/Pro-Tips

Beware Of Thin Ice

Wintertime outdoorsmen often encounter sheet ice over bodies of water. It is tempting to walk on the ice rather that through snow and brush. It is particularly tempting when a detour across a frozen pond is a shortcut back to camp.

This is very dangerous. It takes a long period of subfreezing temperatures to build ice that will support a grown human's weight. In the north, where ice-fishing is popular, this is well understood and everyone is appropriately cautious. However, in warmer locales, a sudden sharp freeze can tempt the unwary onto the ice.

Just because the ice near the shore seems solid, it doesn't mean the ice farther out is equally strong. Falling through the ice, particularly some distance from shore, is very dangerous. It's almost impossible to climb back out and help has a hard time getting to you.

If you don't live in true ice country and understand when and where it is safe, stay off the ice.

Next Year's Deer

At the end of the season, you may stow your bow and/or gun, but you should get ready for the most productive and important scouting of the year. Winter and early spring offer you incredible insight into deer and particularly into buck habitat and behavior that will help you next season. Working sort of backwards, go out immediately after the season and find the deer. This is the late-season place and pattern you were trying to puzzle out when the buzzer went off on this season. You'll know next year. Thin winter cover also gives you the best view of the general deer habitat. Trails, rubs and old scrapes are easily found and noted. Even if a particular buck met a bullet this season, a good breeding territory won't be vacant come next rut. The real payoff in winter/early spring scouting comes when you find big shed antlers. This buck didn't meet a bullet and now you know where he lives.

Lots Of Hunting Left

Even though a calendar year is history, you can still find lots of good hunting after the new year

Hints To Avoid Hypothermia

It doesn't have to be below freezing for hypothermia to hit -- not even close to it. Hypothermia is the loss of core body heat and comes in three grades, mild (uncomfortable), moderate (dangerous) and profound (deadly). Each can rapidly progress to the next stage if appropriate steps are not taken to remedy the matter. Hypothermia can hit at temperatures up to 60 degrees or even warmer for small children, ill or elderly people. All it takes is some sort of chilling experience that causes body temperature to drop faster than the body can make up the loss. Getting wet, exposed to cold wind or, worse, both at once, is a sure set-up for hypothermia. First symptoms are shivering, teeth chattering, slurred speech, decreasing coordination and mild disorientation. Symptoms get worse as body temperature drops. The solution is to get warm and dry as soon as possible. Get out of the wind, add insulation and seek heat. Warm liquids help increase internal temperatures, but avoid alcohol and stimulants.

Late-Season Deer

After the rut, putting up with heavy hunting pressure and heading into the depth of winter, a buck has only one thing on his mind -- survival. At this time, buck survival consists of two things: surviving the last few days of hunting season and finding enough food to replenish his rut-drained energy reserves so he can make it through the winter.

For late-season success look to tough terrain and dense cover. If there is good food adjacent to such a hideaway, you may be on to something. Particularly in cold climates, the need for calories will prompt buck movement. However, don't expect a "survivor" buck to get careless. Look for foodstuffs in small, well-protected patches. A late-season survivor buck seldom walks out into a big field to graze.

When you find a promising late-season location, hunt hard, long and cautiously. Whatever you did in the early part of the season, you have to do a lot better now because your quarry is a lot smarter.

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