Into the Outdoors - What kind of winter To Expect


Well, it finally happened. Last week, we had our “killing frost.” That was, of course, the bursting of the bubble for those of us who take comfort in the delusion that it still might be summer for awhile. We did, however, have a nice little spell of Indian summer. It’s too bad it couldn’t have lasted until March or April. This week, let’s take a little look at what kind of winter we might expect.

The first, and most obvious, is what the scientists have to say. According to them, we are in for a rather nasty winter. The el nino, a Pacific current which has a great influence on our winter, is exceptionally weak this year. It has been strong for the last few years, and our winters have been rather mild. This year, we can look forward to something different.

The other day, while squirrel hunting, I noticed a couple of rather disturbing weather predictors, if you like to go along with the standard folklore. First of all, I saw a squirrel (although I didn’t get a shot at it) with an exceptionally bushy tail. Of course, all squirrels have bushy tails, hence the nickname “bushytail,” but this one was exceptional. According to centuries old legends, this is a sign of a bad winter approaching. Those of us who hate winter should hope for scrawny-tailed squirrels.

Yet another legendary indicator of what kind of winter we can expect involves the woolly bear caterpillar. Around these parts, as the story goes, the lighter the caterpillar, the milder the winter. Strangely enough, in some regions, they believe just the opposite to be true. I’ve also heard that if the caterpillars are dark on both ends and light in the middle that it means a snowy November, a mild December, January and February and a bad March. I’ve seen a number of the critters this fall, and most of them have been pretty dark. One, in fact, was totally black. Of course, the whole caterpillar business has no basis in scientific fact, but it’s still kind of fun. I have, by the way, seen fewer of them this year. 2020 has just been an oddball sort of year. I think that many of us will be glad when it is over.

Skunk cabbage is often also considered to be a weather predictor. Many people believe that the plant is always above the snow. Therefore, if the cabbage is tall, it means lots of the white stuff, while short cabbage is a much better sign.

On the hunting front, rabbit season is now in full swing. Although there are a lot of hunters who can spot sitting rabbits, or who are quick enough to get a shot off when they kick one out, there is really nothing quite the equal of hunting bunnies with a really good dog. When a beagle opens up on a hot trail, it makes for some really sweet music. This is something I haven’t done in a number of years, in fact, since the death of Old Bub’s dog, but I still have fond memories of it.

By the time you read this, fall turkey season will be in. Lack of knowledge keeps me from covering it extensively, but I do know the importance of safety. All of you turkey hunters be careful out there.

And finally, by the time you read this, it will be only about a month until the first day of deer season. Isn’t it hard to believe how quickly time goes by?


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