Mild weather has been a blessing – for some

2020 12 Snowy Owl With No Snow

I have a friend who grew up here in the north country and used to love cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. She still does, occasionally, but for the past several years she and her husband have been spending their winters hiking without skis or snowshoes in much warmer places.

Forced by the pandemic to stay home this year, where we usually have plenty of snow by firearm deer season, she noted, “November was a gift.”

We did have an unseasonably mild start to our winter – little snow and not much ice. It is continuing into January. If duck season were still open, we would be finding plenty of late-season birds hanging around to keep us occupied.

While my friend was celebrating the lack of snow she has had to shovel from around her car – and I am in complete agreement there – I was thinking that November is almost always a gift, no matter whether there’s snow or bare ground, ice or open water.

I think I hunted more in November than I did in October. During our November duck hunts, we didn’t break anything but skim ice with the boat. In the past, snow, ice and bitterly cold temperatures greeted us on Thanksgiving weekend hunts. The milder weather was a gift for us old guys who are finding it more difficult to hunt in extreme conditions. We did have one close call on a particularly wild, windy day, when we were forced to beach the boat and haul it to the ramp through a tangled, flooded point of land, but we lived to hunt another day.

Well into December, the weather kept giving us mild conditions – not so good for ice fishing, but perfect for getting out for late-season small game. On a mid-December hunt for partridge and snowshoe hares, with little snow on the ground, I missed an easy crossing shot on a grouse, but succeeded on getting some decent shots on my phone of white hares trying to hide from just-as-white snowy owls.

The ice is coming soon, or at least I think it is. Last year, we were ice fishing by Dec. 19. Some guys were doing that in some places here in the U.P., but I didn’t get out until the first week of January. It was the thinnest ice I’d ever been on, but we were in shallow water, so it was ok.

Freighters will stop running in Lake Superior on Jan. 15, so things should start to tighten up soon after, if Mother Nature cooperates.

Here’s hoping January will give Lake Superior ice fishermen a gift, just as November and December did for bird hunters.

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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