No matter if the hunting season is over or not, knowing one or two about hunting in the cold is going to always be helpful for the dedicated hunter.
You may very well start with the reading of “To Build a Fire”, a book by Jack London. It may be fiction, but it sure teaches you a lot about hunting in low temperatures. Taking place in Alaska, when mercury went down 50 below, a cheechako (greenhorn in Alaskan) makes plans for brunch with the friends, going out along with his husky-wolf crossbreed.
It seems that all the knowledge is own by the dog that it very well knows what it’s like to travel on a cold weather, as opposed to man. The book tells you about all the mistakes that anyone could do on a cold weather: stepping through the ice, trying to build a fire, failing to do it and finally dying. It takes only one stupid mistakes for “a cascade of errors” to happen and the results are disastrous.
In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of things that can go west while you’re hunting in a very, very cold weather:
If you’re using devices with batteries, chances are the batteries are going to die on you or start working chaotically.
If there’s some oil or grease on your trigger or firing pin, don’t be surprises if the rifle doesn’t fire anymore. On the other hand, don’t be shocked if it does go “bang” as the sear doesn’t pivot anymore, unable to hold the firing pin either. You need to get all the oil out before you go hunting. If you’re already out in the field, you may very well degrease the rifle by taking it apart, using some white gas to flush it out. You may also use some Coleman lantern fuel, boiling water or a lighter fluid.
Here’s some news to you: according to the Army, you may be needing water in cold water more than you’d need in hot water, and not the other way around. You may be needing 2 or 3 gallons a day for the heavy exercises. This is essential especially if you’re going on a high altitude. Let your horses have water every time you get by a stream as they really need it.
Try as much as you can not to breathe on your scope or binocular lenses. If you have a new model, it’s fine as they’re not going to fog. It’s not the same thing with the older ones, though. Don’t forget to apply some anti-fog coating if you’re wearing eyeglasses.
Guess what? You can get a frostbite in 5 minutes and hypothermic in 15 minutes, if it’s cold enough. Unfortunately for you, if it does happen, you’re going to be in a pickle as you’re not going to be able to realize what’s wrong or to find a fast solution.
There are four things that increase your risk for getting hypothermic: sweating, wind, falling through the ice and cotton. When it comes to wind, there’s little you can do about, no matter how many layers of clothing you’re wearing. You need to avoid as much as you can ice. If you do have to cross it, pay very much attention. If you’re going to put in some effort, it’s better to take off your hat, scarf and even open your coat. Once you’re sweaty, there’s little you can do to get warm again. Drying off or building a fire may be the only solutions to that.
If you’re planning to wear a cotton T-shirt or some blue jeans on a cold weather, just don’t. it’s easier for you to survive like this.
Once you started to build a fire, don’t hold back and build a big one. It may put the Forest Service on their way, but hey, at least you’re going to be alive and well when they get you.
Keep in mind that even if your rifle fires, it may still not fire as in its typical manner. Very cold weather may have a bad influence on the rate at which gunpowder burns and that’s going to modify the speed of the bullet. On top of everything else, cold air is dense air and this one fight the forward movement of the bullet, which may cause the shooting to be lower than expected.
As if all of these matters weren’t enough as a problem, the snow may also plug the muzzle. Once the snow gets in the barrel, you’re pretty much done with hunting unless you clear it all out. You may put a piece of electrical tape or bowhunter’s camo tape over the muzzle. You can also tape the muzzle brake and the flash hider. The pressure of the air compresses ahead of the bullet is going to tear the tape in million pieces, no worries. However, don’t put anything in the muzzle or down the bore. If you do, the cold weather isn’t going to be the main problem anymore. You’re going to find out that the hard way.
Last piece of advice: stay in the cabin and have a go with some pinochle or whist. After all, it’s still games we’re talking about, right?