Hunting In Severe Weather

The Armistice Day Storm
November 11th 1940, started out as a sunny, “Blue Bird Day” in America’s Upper Midwest. Temperatures were in the 60’s. In a few hours more, a powerful storm moved quickly across the Rocky Mountains and fell upon the Midwest killing 145 people, many of these were hunters. 49 Minnesota duck hunters drowned in the big waves stirred up by 80 mph winds or froze to death, scantly clothed, wet from rain, when the temperature dropped below 10 degrees as nearly 3 feet of snow fell. This was the Armistice Day Storm.

It was not that long ago, I would go hunting regardless of the conditions. This recklessness was a result of the limited or impossible opportunities to go hunting when trying to build a household.
Good Weather for Ducks
I have gone duck hunting approximately 5 times in an all day downpour. I have never observed a single duck under these conditions, which disproves the myth that bad weather is “Good weather for ducks”.

Retrieving Decoys
Duck decoys are usually set predawn, in placid water. Later in the day, when it is time to retrieve your decoys, the water is often choppy with waves and swells. If you suspect that the wind will increase, you may want to consider a smaller decoy spread that is closer to shore. A smaller, closer decoy arrangement can be retrieved quickly, easily and with less risk.

The 2010 Waterfowl Season in Minnesota came with strong warnings because of flooding. Whole dock systems, trees and logs were reported to be floating in water areas as a hazard to boaters. My own cousin struck one of these logs or trees while boating predawn and was thrown overboard while the boat sank. The water was freezing. My cousin had to purposely travel with the river current downstream for the purpose of reaching an occupied dwelling and asking a stranger to take him in or help.

Muzzle Loading
The Muzzle Loading Rifle Season is always last and can be a sort of desperate, last chance to take a deer. After an unsuccessful regular deer season, I once borrowed a Muzzle Loading Rifle and set out after deer. It was December and I had no interest in the conditions. I only wanted this last chance to get a deer. Once out in the field, my finger tips began stinging from the cold. It was very windy and I could not warm up, even while wearing modern, cold weather gloves and clothing. A bottle of water in a pocket and against my body was already frozen solid. I had to crawl into a natural tunnel made from clumps of tall grass that had blown over to warm up over an alcohol flame. Once I was warm again, I had to beeline it to the car. I then realized the conditions were too dangerous this day.

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