Cold weather warms hunter's heart

Nov. 25, 2013 @ 05:31 PM

The single, clear, bead of moisture is precariously clinging to the underside of my nose, and I am wondering if it will freeze in place.

I wait. My breathing is slowed and for a moment of time that is personal and purely me, I hope it becomes solid.

Something rustles in the leaves nearby, and when something rustles in the leaves nearby the hunting instinct in me compels my head to turn left, and in doing so the droplet of moisture releases and falls somewhere below.

No ice formed beneath my nose. Still, the thought of it being cold enough to freeze on a Sunday in November was awesome.

For this writer, cold-weather hunting warms the heart.  

And for this writer, the cold enhances and inspires. It all starts with breath. In and out, and the warmth generated inside becomes a visible vapor outside. On stand, 30 feet off the ground, I watch my breath fade in the breeze and am reminded of warmth. My hands are snug and tucked and tight, and when there is noise beyond, my palm grips hold of my bow and the cold air tightens and I feel the exposure and am reminded of the cold.

On a branch nearby, and on the ground below and beneath an oak tree further up the hill and in the creek bed behind me and on a felled log that is rotting by the wind and the sun and the toils, a rotting log endures, birds, squirrels, turkey, chipmunk and creatures of the woods are gathering, laboring, and being creatures of the woods. I admire. I watch. I wonder. I know the forecast. Do they?

They scurry. I stand. They climb and sing and sometimes the squirrel pauses to eat the acorn it found, and sometimes the turkey doesn’t just scratch, it nibbles, and I am reminded of the cold.

I feel the breeze now. The droplet that nearly froze and the exposure of skin and the skin of my eyelids and the bridge of my nose feels the wind, too; I just feel it deeper inside now. It is felt beyond the layers and the thermal protection and this shell of a man that is weathered, and it is visceral and soulful and the breeze is intoxicating and it deadens the pain of the cold and insults likewise.

Though I cannot see this wind, I know it is unobstructed, and the naked, empty, desolate and mournful tree limbs and tree branches and the like are defenseless and perhaps they submit to the wind that blows from the north, and I am reminded of the cold.

The sun is down and the sky is clear, and the sky becomes steel-grey and dark and all that is around me is now silent. There is no more rustling. A bird flickers and a lingering squirrel is slow to the den, and I hear the turkey take flight to a branch above. I pause and find my breath slowing. All is still.

The cold dampens and the dryness of the air becomes silent now as the wind has abated. I settle into the darkness and inhale. It is dark and it is cold.

Before I move, I feel the effect of warm breath and the single element of condensation on my nose. I wait and hope and, still, the bead of moisture does not freeze. Again, I am reminded of the cold.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may reach Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com