Hard Core Hunting in the Polar Vortex

Everyone has no doubt heard time and time again that no bird is worth dying for. That is so very true. That said, there are only so many days one can hunt during the season and a lot of birds fly when the weather stinks. Going out to hunt when the weather forecast calls for the end of the world can be rewarding, if you’re ready for it. The first major winter storms of the year have gone through, pounding much of the country. While much of the country seems fixated on the polar vortex, the only swirling masses waterfowlers really care about are the ones created by birds dumping into spreads. The countless posts of pictures on Facebook and other social media showing icy hunters with stalactites for beards, frostbitten skin and piles of dead birds shows that hunters across the country know what it means to be Hard Core. 379727_10201248779685085_1166472607_n-300x225Staying warm The first thing to be concerned about is staying warm. Granted, tons of birds dropping in to your spread will get the adrenalin flowing and make you feel warm, and the hot barrel of a shotgun can work as a space heater, but you do need to think about staying warm. Layering is the best way to stay warm. Start with a good layer of tighter fitting wicking layers, which help pull perspiration away from the skin. Follow this with a good thermal underwear layer and thick socks. Make sure, however that you leave some room for air, especially in your boots. Far too often people think that thicker socks are better and they cram their feet into boots that are now too tight. They then wonder why their feet got cold. I usually have a pair of pac boots that are a size bigger than I normally wear for deep cold and my extreme cold waders are a full size bigger than I normally wear too. To me, and I’ve said this before, it is vitally important to keep the wind out while hunting in cold temperatures. I also do whatever I can to be waterproof too. Even when field hunting, staying dry and out of the wind will help for an all-day hunt. 1503452_763536280342046_1506433749_n-300x300For those of us hunting from a Layout blind, like a Man Cave, there are a few tricks to keep things toasty. If there is a good snow cover on the ground, use the Man Cave Snow Cover, as the extra layer of fabric helps some. Also don’t be afraid to pile snow around the blind. Not only does it help conceal it better, but also snow is actually a pretty good insulator. Another good trick is to put a sleeping bag in the blind with you as extra insulation. I’ve done this, but I recommend not using a good bag. I have an older cheaper bag that I don’t use for camping, unless, of course, one of my buddies forgot to bring his or the dog gets cold. I have a couple of California buddies who always boast about how warm it is where they are. If they ever do come through and come up hunting with me in the nasty frozen north, we’re going to camp out and they are getting stuck with the smelly bags form the blinds. Odds and ends Other good ideas are to have weather alerts sent to your phone, or have a weather radio handy. Storms can change quickly and are quite unpredictable, despite what weather forecasters think. How often have you heard stories about duck hunters who have gotten into trouble and had to have been rescued, or much worse. We all know too to have matches and other survival gear with us. You never know when things are going to get bad in a hurry. Use the waterproof pocket in your Blind Bag, if you have one, to store a few essentials. 1560491_841470379921_1253361859_n-300x199For the truck, carry a shovel and extra cloths. It’s also a good idea to have chargers for all of your stuff, like the cell phone and GPS. If you’re like me, and use an ATV a lot even in winter, make sure you have some gear stowed on it too. I carry a shovel and some rope, to help me get out if I get stuck. A winch is such a valuable tool too. So why do it? Well this is a no brainer. We do it because we can and because there are birds there! How many times have you seen huge flocks come in during a massive storm? Fronts push birds, and birds push hunters to do things others wouldn’t. It’s not easy, but anything worth doing isn’t. Want proof? Check our Facebook and Twitter pages for pictures of recent hunting trips regardless of the snow and cold. By Derrek Sigler