Wild weather in the Southern Zone
When the weather throws you a big league curve ball what can you do? Opening day of the firearms season here in the Southern Tier, as well as throughout most of New York state, was balmy and almost springlike. Temperatures were in the mid to high 60s and not a whole lot was happening in the part of Tioga County where I hunt. Standing on watch over a cut corn field, my hope was to encounter a deer coming through the field to take shelter in the old, thick stand of Christmas trees behind me.
As a clear night gave way to morning I thought, “only ten or so more minutes until shooting light.” Suddenly a shot rang out. Sorry, Snoopy, I had to say it. I could barely see but somewhere somebody felt it was light enough to shoot at a deer. The next half hour I counted fewer than a dozen shots and only occasional gunfire until around 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. until about 4 p.m. I may have heard one or two shots but not more. In my estimation, it seemed to be the quietest opening day in quite a few years.
Tomorrow (Sunday) would be a better day because all weather reports said a strong cold front would be moving through our area in the next few hours and the temperature would be dropping about 30 degrees to a more seasonable level. To make hunting conditions even better, there would be snow accompanying this weather front.
Sunday morning found me on watch at my favorite hunting shelter on the farm I hunt. Years earlier, my friend, the landowner, built about a half dozen of these refuges at strategic locations around his property, and over the years they proved to be handy havens in bad weather. They all had a roof that kept out the rain and snow and, better yet, they were comfortable, making it easy to spend the day on watch. However, this time they proved no match for what Mother Nature had in store.
I was facing due west and snow driven by a growing west wind was making sitting more difficult by the hour. The snow, or rather a mix of freezing rain and snow, was blowing directly in my face and made me as uncomfortable as I’ve been in quite a long time. My gloves were wet and my outer hunting coat was covered with a thick paste of wind-driven, semi-frozen precipitation. From the looks of things the weather was deteriorating and my prospects looked bleak. Reluctantly, I decided to call it a day because surely, Monday would be better.
Monday morning brought a new enthusiasm, but when I looked out the window I saw my truck covered with about 10 inches of new snow. What’s more, there was a thick coating of ice on the windows beneath the snow and the wind was still blowing hard. Age has a funny way of putting things into perspective and for the first time in my life I decided I wasn’t going hunting again until this storm system passed. My wife asked if I was going hunting and I informed her of my decision. “You’re getting soft,” she said. I think she may be right.