The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 7, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Hot for cold-weather hunting?

For the Star Beacon

— In Northeast Ohio, it gets cold this time of year, to be blunt, really freakin’ cold!

It has been my experience that bow hunting this time of the year can be brutal no matter how much Thinsulate you have on, no matter how many Hot Hands and Body warmers you have plastered on various parts of your body, it’s freakin’ cold! Heck, the wind chill factor alone can freeze yer nose right off if ya ain’t careful.

Hunker down

All kidding aside, when you hunt on the ground this time of year, you can hunker down behind a tree, a brush pile, a blow down or darn near anything you can find to help block the wind and keep some of your body heat inside your clothes instead of it escaping into never, never land.

A camo popsicle

Now lets go with another scenario. Lets say you’re up in a tree stand anywhere from 10 to 30 feet in the air; it’s awful hard to block the wind when you got nothing around you. Unless you’ve got some sort of blind built around your stand you’re gonna look like a Camo Popsicle after a couple of hours, not a good situation.   

Back in the day

When I was younger, not that I’m that old, well, maybe I’m getting there, none the less, when I was younger I could sit in a tree stand in below freezing weather with the wind howlin’ and not even have a drip come outta my nose. Heck one year I remember arrowing a doe on the last day of archery season, Jan. 31, in -11 degree weather. I will admit I got frostbite on my trigger finger that year and ended up loosing the nail, but it grew back so all was good.

Today, if you were to ask me to head to the wood in those conditions, I’d flat out tell you that you would have a better chance of seeing Bigfoot out there than me!

What to do?

With a month of archery season left what are we old timers or freeze bugs suppose to do? Well I hate to say it but I guess we “go blind”. Err, I mean we consider hunting from a blind. As much as I detest blinds they do have their place in the hunting arena and the outdoors sports. With all the new fancy blinds that on the market you can stay out of the wind and cold, sit in a nice comfortable chair, one that swivels at that, and see 360 degrees around you.

Shoot, if you’re that much of a freeze baby, you can even put a Little Buddy double bottle heater in it and stay there from sun up to sun down, eat your lunch in comfort and sip coffee all day long.

Oh, I forgot to mention, many of them aer “scent-free,” also. But there’s a trick to hunting like the big boys you see on TV, placement. Just like a tree stand, placement of your ground blind can make or break your hunt.   

Blind placement

With the right placement and concealment, using a ground blind can be just as effective as using a treestand. Deer will rarely spot you if you use these tips to conceal your blind. Deer see sharp edges very clearly; so don’t set up your blind on a hill or ridge, where its profile will stand in stark contrast with the sky. Set up in an area with background cover that is at least as tall and wide as your blind, for example at the base of a hill, in a dip in the terrain, or in front of a stand of trees.

Use the landscape

Find a good hiding spot where the natural vegetation breaks up the pattern of the landscape, such as a scraggly stand of trees, low-hanging branches, a wild mix of grass and brush, a downed tree, or a large pile of wood or hay. Your hiding place will vary depending on the landscape. If the spot you want to set up your blind lacks natural cover, you can make your own. Drag a pile of dead branches over to your lucky spot to draw attention away from your blind and to make your blind look less out of place.

Good cover

The cover behind you should be the thick and full. It should be as tall and wide as your blind and have few if any “holes,” places where the sky shows through, in order to fully conceal your profile. You need less cover in front and to the side than in the background. Pay attention to the shadow cast by your blind. If possible, set up so that your shadow is swallowed up by the shadow of trees or other tall landmarks around you.


If you know the trail a deer typically follows, don’t set up your blind where the deer will walk straight towards it. Set up at an angle to the trail so that the deer is less likely to see your blind. If possible, position yourself so that the deer, following its usual route, will be angled away from or broadside to your blind.

Use a deak, maybe

Another concealment trick is to set up decoys to distract game and draw their attention away from your blind. Depending on the type of hunting you do, decoys may or may not be a good option. If the decoys seem unnatural to a deer, they can work against you rather than for you.

Play the wind

To keep deer from sniffing you out, check the wind direction and set up your blind downwind from where the deer will approach you. If you don’t have one of the new scent free blinds you’ll want to spray the blind, your clothes, and equipment with an odor neutralizer to further conceal your scent.

Set up in advance

If you hunt on private land, the best way to keep game from balking at the sight of your blind is to set it up well before you plan to hunt. Before long, the deer will come to accept your blind as a natural part of the landscape. They’ll walk right past your blind without a second glance, hopefully setting you up for the perfect shot.

Coyote Open

The Maple Country Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Geauga County Coon Hunters are hosting their fourth Annual Coyote Open. Dates this year for the contest are Jan. 24-26, 2013, pre-registration is required.

Prizes: 75 percent or more of entry fees collected. See official rules for payout details. Dog Category or Open Hunt Category. Contact: Bill Trump 983-7203, Tony Bitner 221-9786, Adam Hollobaugh 313-7406, Matt McDermott (330) 221-3063, or you can register on-line at: and check out the official rules while you’re there.

Alternative dates

Because of the need of snow for successful coyote hunting we will have alternate dates for the coyote hunt in February. In the case of no snow between Jan. 24-26, we will postpone the contest until February dates of sunrise  Feb. 21 to sunset Feb. 23. Weigh-in time will be 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23. In the case of postponed dates ,we will continue to register teams up till Feb 19 at 7 p.m.


n Several Wild Game Dinners are scheduled, here’s a list of the ones I know of: Crossroads Community Church, January 26, 2013. Call 428-1435 or email for more information. Peoples Church, February 23, 2013. Call 466-2020 for more information. Jefferson Nazarene, March 14, 2013. Call 576-6556 for more information.

n Lyne Bites, the Lyme Disease Support Group, is hosting a viewing of the award-winning documentary “Under Our Skin.” This event will be on Saturday, Jan.12 at 10 a.m. the Jefferson Health Care’s (Jefferson Geriatric) conference room, located 222 East Beech St Jefferson, 44047. Please park in the back and enter through the Dialysis doors. A short intermission will be provided at the middle of this two-hour presentation.  This event is free of charge and open to the public. Reservations are not required but appreciated. Medical personnel and support givers are encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Janine at 858-2614 or email her at

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.  

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at