Sitting in a tree stand was tough this weekend with a combination of freezing rain and heavy, wet snow. Our camp is on the border line of the snow/rain this time of year because Lake Superior is still around 40F in the western end, and when the northwest wind blows over the warmer water we get more rain than snow. Check out the map at the bottom of the Observation Hill blog post for a good illustration. When I passed through the Twin Ports, the hills of Duluth, including Spirit Mountain ski area, had plenty of snow cover while Superior had virtually none. We did get snow however, and it changes both the dynamic of the woods and the creatures that are in it.
The obvious thing is that nothing can hide or disguise its passage in the snow. I took the long way back from my stand on Sunday morning and noticed that the Fisher was out, Porkie had been on the ground, several deer had passed where I thought they had no business being, and Moquah the bear was still up and moving about. Visibility is another thing. My camo works great up in the spruce tree but on the ground I stick out like a sore thumb. I felt like the poor snowshoe rabbit that turned white before the snowfall, yet still thought that if he froze and became motionless I wouldn't spot him. There was plenty of flowing water in the woods as well. Its been a wet year and water tends to pool in low areas of the predominantly red clay soil. It also illustrates why you can still fall through the ice in the swamp in the dead of winter; everything is flowing and little mini riffles and rivulets of water are everywhere, underscoring the Yooper comment that, "a guy needs a good pair of swampers in da woods during deer camp".
No arrows flew and once again the question of whether we are a hunting camp or a deer watching camp was posed. The hunting ethic that has evolved up there is either bucks, eight points of better, or anterless deer. Most of us wait for the single anterless deer once we've decided that meat trumps big racks late in the season, and that didn't happen for me last weekend. Its still fun playing hide and seek with the deer and watching them go about their business when they are undisturbed. I did get things ready for the start of 'Holy Week' next Saturday at 6am, the nine day Wisconsin deer gun season, and am confident that the freezer will be full by the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Several errands got me home at an early hour yesterday afternoon. After a quick computer check I noticed two invitations to go 'snow paddling' and a few spacebook posts with snow paddling pictures. Since I had a brand spankin' new seat in my Explorer, I decided to take a quick lap around Long Lake to check it out. More on that later, but it was nice to combine two of my favorite outdoor activities in the same day. Now I just need to put my head down, plow through the week,and head north early next Friday morning. Hope the snow stays. The first snowfall of the year always puts me in a euphoric and wonderful mood and this year is no exception.