To natives of the boreal North, snow was of such importance that more than 50 names were coined to describe its nuances. All life revolved around snowfall, especially hunting.
Today's whitetail hunters should be no less reverent. Snow alters the daily behavior of deer in ways that make hunting easier. In many areas, for example, the available forage changes as snow accumulates, moving herds of deer along established migration corridors. Knowledgeable hunters can use these patterns to their advantage.
Early snowfalls, unless accompanied by severely plummeting temperatures, do not permanently affect deer habits or forage. However, snow in the air spurs deer to greater daytime activity. Most important, it opens opportunities for hunters who were previously confined to tree and ground stands while dry leaves crackled underfoot. When fresh snow falls and sticks, you have perfect tracking conditions. When it melts, the downed leaves become wet and pliable, silencing the footsteps of still-hunters. Falling snow also obscures your outline and movements, carries odors to the ground, and permits a closer approach. It's easier to spot animals in the stark world revealed after a snowstorm, but keep in mind that the reverse is also true.
A blanket of white on the ground extends hunting light and makes it simpler to follow wounded animals, during the day or evening.
Deer anticipate heavy snows that are accompanied by a falling barometer and are spurred to feed heavily at a time of day when they might normally be bedded. They invariably take cover during snowstorms, but soon after the sky clears and the barometric pressure rises, they're eager to fill their bellies, making the hours bracketing a storm among the best times to catch deer off guard.
To make the most of the advantages that come with a snowfall, heed these tips:
(1) Heavy, wet snow can clog your rifle barrel. A thin strip of masking tape over the muzzle will protect the bore without affecting accuracy.
(2) Feather fletchings will collect moisture and gain weight, affecting arrow flight. Switch to plastic vanes.
(3) Snow reflects light and adds resolution and detail to the field of view in your binoculars. Now is a great time to glass for deer.
(4) Wear white camouflage where legal to blend in better with the winter environment. (5) Use clear scope covers. Often, you won't have time to remove or flip up opaque ones. (6) If you use open sights, switch to a red or green fiber-optic bead. They show up extremely well against a white background. A dab of fluorescent-red model enamel over a standard front bead is an inexpensive option.
This season, when the Weather Channel issues a winter storm watch, be thankful-and go use the white stuff to help fill your tag.