Frigid weather and bitter cold temperatures have lingered in not only the northeast but all the way down to the south where folks aren’t used to seeing the fluffy white stuff covering the ground. This past weekend the thermometer read negative 13 degrees with wind chills even colder.
We humans complain about busted water pipes but at least we’re able to stay warm in our homes.Frigid weather and bitter cold temperatures have lingered in not only the northeast but all the way down to the south where folks aren’t used to seeing the fluffy white stuff covering the ground. This past weekend the thermometer read negative 13 degrees with wind chills even colder. We humans complain about busted water pipes but at least we’re able to stay warm in our homes.
The wildlife on the other hand has no other choice than to be stuck out in the elements and it’s amazing how they adapt to survive the brutal conditions. Deer like to find a pine or hemlock stand and lay low there as it creates a thermal refuge. The dense evergreen trees provide a wind block and the temperatures can be warmer underneath them.
Deer conserve energy by not moving much and relying on their fat reserves to make it through winter. Thankfully the mast producing trees produced a decent crop last fall and the two does I put my tags on had plenty of fat on them. The deer will herd up and stick together during the cold winter months and they’ll congregate in the areas with the most reliable food source.
Most of the acorns have been consumed by now and their diet consists of browse from twig and shrub tips as well as clover and grasses. I saw 10 in the clover field by my house enjoying the first day above freezing in over two weeks the other day. I also saw a small 6 point buck.
Grouse also rely on the hemlock trees to provide shelter from not only the winter weather but from the predators as well. They will also burrow into the snow to protect themselves from the cold becoming invisible to the critters that are trying to hunt them. I just read that fact in the 2018 wildlife calendar from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). I always pick up a copy of the wildlife calendar every year as there’s useful information about the best days and times to hunt and fish as well as neat facts like the one I mentioned above. The WVDNR does a great job and has even won awards in the past for the calendar. Each month has a different piece of wildlife art showcased and provides a nice look to the informative calendar.
Did you know that a grey squirrel can smell a nut buried under 12 inches of snow? That was another fact in this month’s WVDNR wildlife calendar. Squirrels seek shelter in hollow trees in their dens and ride out the bitter cold temperatures. They rely on the nuts they buried in the fall to make it through until spring.
Black bears are nestled in their dens right now enjoying a nice long sleep as they hibernate. They’ll come out of their dens some during the winter but they don’t travel far from them. They probably have it best during the winter months than any other wildlife.
The predators like foxes, bobcats, and coyotes move more during the single digit temperatures searching for an easy meal. Like the grey fox that got one of my ducks a couple of weeks ago. It’s the best time of the year to have a trap line in the ground. The snow covered ground reveals exactly where each predator walked the night before. It’s also almost mating season for coyotes so they are on the move during this time of the year.
It’s easy to forget just how brutal it can get out there during the months from January through March all snuggled up close to a warm fire. It’s amazing how nature works and how the wildlife can adapt to survive negative 25 degree wind chill like we recently witnessed. Old man winter has sure let his presence known so far this New Year and I’m sure the wildlife appreciated the short warm streak before the next blast of arctic air.