Hunting in Snow
If you’re going to hunt in Maine, expect some snow days. The Northern Interior region of Maine gets an average of about 100 inches of snow per year. But despite the wet, cold, and slippery conditions that come with it, there are also some serious benefits to us hunters from a good Maine snow day. Here are a few.
It’s so quiet
Snow has this way of silencing the ambient noise of nature. A good snowfall is like covering the landscape with a big, heavy, soundproofing blanket. A fresh snow just kind of deadens the usual sounds of the outdoors. No rustling of leaves. No chirping of birds. It just gets so quiet, for a while at least.
If it’s thick enough, you can walk in a fresh snow without crunching leaves or snapping sticks. Get the right kind and depth of snow, you can just about walk silently. But then again, so can just about everything else, including the animal you’re hunting.
So, give up on listening for footsteps and instead listen simply for disturbances in the silence. Keep an ear out for sounds like an out of place clack of branches bumping together as something brushes up against them or the thud of snow falling from a disturbed brush thicket. Snow silence (say that three times fast) is heavy, you’ll notice when it’s broken.
Snow blindness is a real thing
No really, it is. I mention snow blindness simply to point out just how bright and stark a snow covered landscape is. So wear sunglasses and note that anything that isn’t white will stand out against a snowy backdrop (including you, so be sure to invest in snow camo).
Unless you’re pursuing snowshoe hares (for which Maine does have a season, by the way), you’ll be able to spot your quarry from much farther away than usual…if you look. So get a good pair of binoculars (that you can use while wearing sunglasses) and train your eyes to focus on the far distance. You’ll give yourself a serious advantage in the process.
Blindness by day, vision by night
If the snow can reflect enough of the sun to burn your eyes in the daytime, it can reflect enough of the moonlight to provide some great night vision – for animals anyway. With some exceptions (mainly furbearers), most game animals can’t be legally hunted at night.
So, keep track of the moon phases. If the moon is half or more full and the nights are clear, know that a lot of mammals will move at night and lay low during the day. Adjust your strategy accordingly. Following a clear, moonlit night, focus more on finding your game in bedding areas and less at feeding areas. Or try to catch them along travel routes in between as they go from one to the other right at dawn or dusk.
Could tracking get any easier?
Whether it’s footprints or a blood trail, following a track left in snow is about as easy as it gets. Or is it? It only takes about a day or two after a good snowfall for tracks to melt a bit or blow over, making them pretty hard to distinguish from one another. Even a fresh track will often cross others (sometimes many others) or pass through areas where it’s easy to lose the trail.
And what exactly are we looking for at the end of the trail while Maine deer hunting, anyway? Assuming it’s not a blood trail of course. Do we actually expect to find a deer just standing there, waiting for us to walk up on him? Sure, that’d be nice but to pull that off we have to keep a sharp eye out well ahead of us. Remember what I said about having a good pair of binoculars?
Recognize that tracking isn’t always a means to an end. If you keep an eye to your surroundings, you can learn a lot in the process. Note any obvious feeding or bedding areas. Those will be good spots to come back to during future hunts. Note also the areas where tracks DON’T go such as steep slopes, wet or open areas. Note how tracks skirt such areas and use that knowledge later to predict travel patterns.
To some, 100 inches of annual snowfall may seem intimidating. But to those that know how to use it to their advantage, hunting in snow feels more like 100 inches of opportunity. And when it comes to hunting opportunity – and snow – Maine offers plenty.
Camp Katahdin is a luxury hunting retreat in Northern Maine. Our 15 person Hunting Lodge is set in the most beautiful hunting grounds in the Katahdin area. Step out the door and walk, ATV, or snowmobile to prime hunting locations.
By the way, night hunting for coyotes in Maine is a thrilling adventure at Camp Katahdin. We set up bait and a nice, heated shack.
Then, come back and rest easy in our new hunting lodge. We offer independent and guided hunts for all seasons, whitetail Maine deer hunting season is one of our favorites. We are also commercially zoned for Pheasant hunting – that means, no license needed, 7 days a week hunts.
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