5 Tips for Winter Hunting

Early Season Backpacking Washington...
Early Season Backpacking Washington (A 2022 Guide)

Hey there hunters, and welcome to my post where we will check out my 5 tips for winter hunting this year. This probably goes without saying but hunting during winter can be entirely different from summer in the fact that it is cold out there and prey do not tend to move around as much.

And on the other side of the screen, sitting around for any length of time in cold temperatures can have adverse affects on the hunter as well. So for those of you looking to get out there during the colder months, let’s check out some hopefully helpful tips below.

1. Wear Appropriate Clothing

When it comes to being cold, being warm can mean the difference between a pleasant and a miserable experience. And the trick here is to stay warm enough whilst still having enough movement to handle your bow or gun and track an animal. Hence in the cold, layering is essential as it will allow you to keep warm as well as add or remove clothing options as needed.

Begin by applying an insulating base layer,  then layer on long underwear and a wool layer on top. Finish with your camo parka, hat, insulated coveralls and a beanie/knitted hat. Invest in high-quality gloves or mittens – wool mittens with flip-open fingertips are an excellent option to assist with weapon handling as well. 

Oh, and don’t forget warm footwear as well.

2. Bring necessary hunting gear

Aside from your chosen weapon, it is also advisable for you to bring other essentials for winter hunting such as a hunting backpack to transport your warm gear and a hands-free headlamp for hunting in the dark – days are a lot shorter in winter.

Additionally, in winter it is advisable to always to keep a fire-starting kit in your pack. This can be a homemade or purchased kit as starting a fire can mean the difference between life and death when temperatures are below freezing. If you get lost, become too cold to move, or fall into a creek, you will need a quick fire to warm up your body temperature to avoid the risk of hypothermia.

Other gear to consider for winter camping also includes:

Also, if you are planning to hunt overnight, a fully enclosed hunting shelter will assist in keeping cold winds out as well.

Tips for winter hunting - hunting hut in snow

3. Identify your game’s food sources

During winter, the feeding patterns of wildlife can dramatically change. Therefore it is recommended that you spend some time researching the hunting area and understanding what vegetation will be available in the winter. 

Deer, for example, will not trail as much as they would have in the early season because they would be wasting energy reserves. As a result, hunters should focus on areas with good vegetation coverage and winter food sources.

4. Look for the signs

As discussed above, the behavior of animals changes dramatically from early fall to winter. As a result, the data or information you gathered in the fall may not be instrumental in the winter. This means that as it is with looking for valid food sources, you may need to also recheck for signs of animal behavior as the weather turns.

The good news here is that if you have evidence of a buck in your hunting area, it is likely still present during the snow months. Deer are creatures of habit, and they have specific home ranges where they spend most of their lives, except the fall breeding season.

Here are some compelling considerations:

  1. Tracking: Though game tracks can be seen in the dirt or mud, they are much more visible in the snow. In fact, because of the often consistent coverage, game tracks in the snow can often be followed for a much longer distance.
  2. Blood stains: Following a blood trail in the snow is far easier than in many other situations. Distinguishing blood from its surroundings becomes much more manageable. On a white background, the red color of blood stands out dramatically.
  3. Predict their movement: When the snow starts to fall, it often commences in the high country before it reaches regions at lower elevations. Game animals will begin to migrate to lower elevations as the snow covers the higher elevations. This is primarily because they will prefer the quicker access to food that lower elevations provide. This fact is especially important when hunting big game.

You should spend some time in the woods reevaluating deer signs after the first snowfall or after winter rain. Tracks and trail camera images will also give you a good idea of where the deer are during the winter.

Tips for winter hunting - man hunting in snow

Choose a good ground coverage

Ultimately, natural cover is a critical aspect of winter hunting as you tend to spend less time perched on tree ladder stands etc. Remember however that using a tree as cover varies significantly during the winter compared to the fall due to the lack of foliage at this time of year. Instead, look for a densely wooded area for some “background coverage”.

This means that you should be seeking for an area with a lot of branches, high bushes and so on that will allow you to blend in a little better.

Conclusion

And there they are, my 5 tips for a successful hunting season this winter. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun

Paul

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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Paul