ZEKE WILSON: Gear in short supply
January 28, 2014 10:40 AM

The reality of recurring cold was evident in a recent attempt to stay warm. A search of local retailers revealed slim pickings in the way of gloves and thick socks.

Although I prefer to support the local economy when possible, my next stop was the Cabela’s website. It also revealed many selections of gloves and socks that were sold out or on back order. When the world’s foremost outfitter is short on cold-weather gear in midwinter, one must wonder.

While many in our area are familiar with shortages of snow shovels and salt, rarely is this much of the country this cold. Even those who seek out the South to escape the cold have been below freezing. For much of the year my days are spent outdoors, but for the bulk of January experiencing direct sunlight has been difficult.

Drifting snow now requires knee-high rubber boots or preventive measures to keep feet dry. Specialized gear such as snowshoes are rarely owned in our area but allow for mobility when the snow stacks up.

• The cold wind will quickly place a crust atop the snow, allowing some species to stay atop for easier travel. This same crust prevents other species from reaching the forest floor for food and is especially difficult on deer and turkey.

Over the weekend while returning from town I watched a group of long beards fly across the divided highway. A grapevine-choked ravine was the direction in which they flew, and chances are good their movements will be restricted to the immediate area.

Those who feed the birds are seeing high activity and are filling feeders daily to keep their flocks happy.

Many sportsmen also make efforts to help the deer and turkey through the harsh winter. Providing food sources that are not in close proximity to cover should be done with caution as the animals actually can consume more calories than the corn pile can provide.

While it is difficult to believe, most of our native species are more than equipped to deal with the cold and will see spring with or without assistance.

• Having a roof overhead and heat source allows man to anticipate spring while remaining comfortable. Wintertime hobbies often are geared toward resupplying or refurbishing specialized equipment.

Fly-tying and reloading are two hobbies that increase in participation in the winter months. Organization now can save time when the hunting and fishing are at their best.

An afternoon among outdoor gear and supplies often results in reminiscing past pursuits. Spending money on products that relate to one’s favorite interest is easy to do. Taking an inventory during the winter can allow one to purchase necessary items while avoiding impulse buys. Many retailers offer end-of-the-season sales, although as mentioned earlier, stocks may be depleted.

Fletching arrows, rigging duck decoys, and replacing worn gear all will help me pass the time this week. Hopefully some rays of sunshine will allow for some limited outdoor excursions as well.

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