The Winter White Blues by James L. Bruner
Once the first of the year rolls around the scenery and daily weather changes abruptly and often becomes a challenge. Moving through the woods with snow up to your waist really limits your opportunities unless you sport a pair of snowshoes or have the room for a snowmobile to maneuver. The latter is great for fishing on the frozen lakes and ponds and the fore-mentioned are best suited for wooded trails and sports like rabbit hunting. If you’re unwillingly to put in the effort….it will be a long cold winter especially in an area like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where snow arrives early and stays late. Call it cabin fever, the winter blues, or whatever you like. It doesn’t matter. If you’re not staying mobile or keeping your mind busy it’s easy to get lost in the long doldrums of winter. Here are few remedies and suggestions for helping push these long winter days along.
First and foremost that come to mind for me is the time spent icefishing. I don’t get the time on the hardwater like I have in years gone by but can attest to the complete addiction that can grab hold of you when new ice starts forming in the fall. It’s no different than any other form of fishing or even hunting but be prepared. You can spend hours, and sometimes days, in a small confined area just waiting for a fish to strike. But if you have never done battle with a fish on icefishing gear then you’re really missing out on a fantastic sport.
Rabbit hunting and late season grouse hunting are favorites. And these seem especially inviting after a new snowfall where the new powder hangs to the tree limbs creating a thick heavy feeling in the woods that muffles every movement. Snowshoe rabbits blend perfectly with the white snow while the smaller cottontail is slightly more visible with it’s brown coat against the patches of white. And grouse bursting from a tree limbs creating an eruption of snow falling to the ground. Fawgheddabowdit! The vision alone is rewarding enough to motivate you even on the coldest of days. But this article isn’t only about things you can do outside during the winter. The choices are many. It’s about avoiding that depressing feeling that creeps up knowing that you’re still staring at 3 more months of winter. So let’s kick it into high gear and dive a little deeper in the suggestion bag.
For those who prefer the warmth of comfort of home during the winter months dreaming of fishing the open water why not take the time to service the fishing gear. We know you own a handful of fishing poles and each one of them is probably screaming for some maintenance by way of the internal gears. While you are there dreaming of fishing why not spool some new line and inspect the eyelets of the rod. And while you’re getting comfortable with the moment let’s dive into that tackle box. Or should I say tackle boxes? It’s no secret how quickly a tackle box can get messed up so chances are you can spend some time cleaning and arranging. Besides this could be a perfect excuse to buy a few new lures that will nicely fill in any empty spaces in that clean tackle box.
More of the hunting guy or gal? Then I probably don’t have to tell you to clean your firearms right? Of course not but this would be a great time to go through your gear. A treestand is a perfect candidate for noise so check all the small connections on your treestand for proper wear and tear. Also your portable blind can usually be setup in the garage, basement, or smack dab in the middle of the living room for a quick visual inspection. All hunting clothing, decoys, and calls require your interest and don’t forget about your bow. The one weapon that can really make or break a close quarters hunting trip deserves plenty of time devoted to making sure all components are affixed properly and silent.
There are those out there who are completely on the ball when it comes to keeping their hunting and fishing gear in service at all times. If this is the case maybe an extra hobby to break the lull of winter will be more appropriate.
Fly tying is a great hobby and relatively inexpensive. I know quite a few people who tie their own flies and a large number of those do not even fly fish. They simply enjoy tying the flies and for the most part giving them to friends asking only for a report on how well they perform. On occasion they do sell some flies but their main objective is just to burn some hours away in their own little corner while waiting for the warmer weather of spring to break.
Another favorite winter past-time is reloading. Plenty of people reload their own shells and cartridges especially through the winter months. Most will tell you it’s very rewarding and comforting to know who handled the ammo and that it has been created to a certain specification. I don’t reload ammo myself and have often been asked the question as to whether I trust the person who might have been having a bad day to create ammo for me. It’s a good question creating a legitimate concern that has stuck in my head on more than one hunt.
Another great hobby that can break the monotony is taxidermy. Having a background in art I once thought this might be for me but I quickly learned just the opposite. Admittedly I am not the type to sit for long periods of free time. Free time is the key phrase here. I spend plenty of time sitting in this chair typing day after day. I tend to enjoy my time away from the desk to be a little more, scratch that, much more active and physical. A friend of mine took up taxidermy as a hobby around the same time I had shot a bobcat. I reluctantly agreed to let him mount the cat for me. Really bad idea. I won’t even try to describe the end result. What I will say is just 8 months later he was mounting raccoons, ducks, pheasants, and, you guessed it, bobcats, that looked pretty darn good. He had practiced during the winter and although he said it was a little more expensive to get started he was making money from the work he was doing for others. Thinking back that was my grand scheme when I gave it a try.
I could go one for days chatting up all the little possibilities but I’ll leave you with this one.
Why not try your hand at writing and sending the article to us for possible publication in our next issue of the online magazine? As you see it doesn’t take anything more than an interest or some basic knowledge in an outdoors subject. Come to think of it. There goes another hour of those winter blues!