"Out In The Cold".
WHEN MY fingertips start to turn numb and my eyes water in the bracing wind, I take a deep breath in, slowly exhale, and repeat the mantra:
"Cold is temporary"
No matter how far below freezing it is, I think, being cold is only a temporary condition. If it gets too unbearable, I can always call it a day and head for camp to warm up the extremities.
I love winter weather. When the mercury falls south of freezing and an Arctic clipper pushes down on to the plains, I start figuring out ways to spend more time in the field. There was that one winter when I white-knuckled it for an hour through a raging blizzard to reach a slough that was frozen solid. I needed an axe to chop through the ice and worked up a sweat opening a hole big enough for a dozen decoys. Then I sat shivering as I waited for the ducks to arrive. Eighteen minutes later I had a limit of greenheads and was heading back home before hypothermia hit.
That was many winters ago, and you'd think I'd be a little wiser, especially now that the bones ache a bit more than they did then. But just a few years back, wind chills dropped well below zero, and I had a Colorado deer tag in my pocket. Matt Moline (ivorytipoutfitters.com) and I could have stayed in that morning and waited for the winds to subside, but with just a few days left in the season, we needed to make something happen.
The wind was so fierce that if you turned your face into it you'd lose a layer of skin to the stinging snow and your eyes would freeze shut. We didn't see many deer that morning, but we saw more than we would have from the couch. The next day, the winds subsided. Though the mercury didn't rebound, more deer were on their feet after the storm, and I took a nice mountain muley, my widest buck yet.
Those are just a couple of the many memorable times I've braved the elements. Most of the time, I'm not nearly as successful because most animals don't like severe weather any more than a sane person does. But, on occasion, my man-against-the-elements mindset results in a punched tag or a heavy strap. And I always come home with a good story to tell.
Going out in that kind of weather isn't always the safe bet, but that's always the goal. To make it back home. Because cold is only temporary--until it becomes permanent.
See you around the campfire,