Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Recently a regional sportsmen’s collective contracted me to teach them some of the finer points of Woods Walkin’ and nature observation. Back when we made the arrangements they new it would be cold but I’m not sure any of us anticipated the white stuff. No matter – more to learn and teach. I’m sure you can understand me when I say that they were a bit camera shy but I took the opportunity to get some snaps of me, and my stuff, and in the process this blog entry was born.

I call my shelter “the snow shack” but it’s really just a white version of the Swack Shack which you can read all about a few posts down. You can get one of these and a whole lot of other cool stuff at Survival Solutions. It worked exactly you would expect – just fine. It is big enough for me and a big comfy bed, my rifle and my dog who also came along but as it turns out, was also camera shy. It works great in the snow as far as camouflage goes and it is a bit less expensive because it is not made of the proprietary Multi-Cam. Cool!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect terrain and vegetation wise so I brought some heavy duty stakes – and I’m glad I did. They went into the frozen earth just fine. I rigged this one with a main ridge line above tarp/through the loops. I attached some waxed cord to the end loops with girth hitches and tied them off to the ridge line with prussics. I built a deep leaf bed and slept on a thick closed cell foam mat inside a military 3 bag system. I was fine. If it had been windy I would have stowed my rucksack at my head to keep the wind off. Stay off the ground and out of the wind.

Another tip for working in the cold is to dress in layers. I like tops that unzip or unbutton all the way down so I can ventilate. Sure, a hoody is really warm and traps the heat nicely around your neck and face but when you start warming up from exercise it is impossible to vent off excess heat. The last thing you want to do in this environment is sweat. I actually brought two hats – a fleece watch cap and the ball cap you see in the pic. When that picture was taken I was quite warm despite the temperatures because we had been walking a bit.

When we are cold we don’t feel thirsty and so it is easy to become dehydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Warm fluids keep the body temperature stable unlike ice cold canteen/bottle water. Due to the nature of our nature observation, we chose not to have fires – but we still had stoves to use to heat water. If nothing else, try to eat something and change into dry socks before you get into your sleeping bag. The calories will warm you and your dry warm feet will thank you.

Snow camouflage is pretty simple – I saw one person with a poncho made from a flat white sheet – it worked very well. Surplus snow cammo is easy and cheap to obtain from places like the Sportsman’s Guide. My stuff is cotton but nylon is better because it dries quicker. Some folks say, “nylon is noisier than cotton” and that is true – but you cannot move through snow like a ninja so the little swish swish of nylon is not a big deal. When I’m in an area with trees and bushes and I’m walking, I like to wear white pants and a darker top. It blends better and it also really disrupts the “man pattern”. Most people in the group put white adhesive tape on their shooting irons but I saw one with neoprene sleeves velcroed onto the buttstock and foregrip and one rifle painted white, gray and black.

If you are in an area where the snow is gonna be around for awhile you can paint whatever you need to with white paint. Stripes, blotches or solid white depending on what you are dealing with - it’s not rocket science. If your white is “removable” you can adjust your camo as the situation dictates. If it’s painted you will need more paint to change it.

I know some folks can’t stand the snow but it really does provide an opportunity to get out and try new stuff, experiment with gear, and just get more comfortable in the woods.

I’ll see ya out there.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. – Isaiah 1:18


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

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