The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 23, 2014

How cold is too cold for hunters?

Study: Most hunters will go out, even if temperatures fall into the single digits

By Chris Ellis
For The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — I was never one to trust a groundhog. Asking a rodent to forecast the weather is about like calling your grandmother to ask if her hip hurts to determine if it’s going to rain. Nonetheless, it appears spring is on its way and winter is finally losing its icy grip.  

Old Man Winter wasn’t messing around this year. With all the arctic blasts, things referred to as a polar vortex, and school closings our neck of the woods had a hard winter indeed. So when a recent survey came to me titled, “How cold is too cold for hunters,” I was curious as to the answer. Many of us sportsmen found ourselves asking the same question as we stood looking out the kitchen window while the snow piled up and chilly winds blew.   

According to a recent HunterSurvey.com poll, the majority of hunters are still willing to hit the woods even as temps plunge into the single digits. But when it drops below zero, most agree, it’s time to call it quits.

The survey divided hunters into six regional groups: Great Lakes States, Northeast States, Northern Plains States, South Central States, Southeast States and Western States in order to best gauge how hunters in different parts of the country to react to cold weather. Hunters polled were asked “at what temperature did it become too cold to hunt.” The findings were interesting.

There are indeed some fair weather hunters out there. Organized by region, the percentage of polled hunters who say it is too cold to hunt as temps fall to between 21 and 30 degrees were:

--- Great Lakes States, 3 percent

--- Northeast States, 5 percent

--- Northern Plains States, 3 percent

--- South Central States, 10 percent

--- Southeast States, 9 percent

--- Western States, 8 percent

By the time temperatures have fallen between 1 and 10 degrees, the percentage of hunters who choose to stay inside are:

--- Great Lakes States, 31 percent

--- Northeast States, 40 percent

--- Northern Plains States, 18 percent

--- South Central States, 51 percent

--- Southeast States, 52 percent

--- Western States, 36 percent

But the tipping point seems to be 0 degrees when across every region except the Northern Plains states an additional 25 to 32 percent of hunters report it is too cold to hunt. In the Northern Plains, another 21 percent, are choosing a warm fire over a cold deer stand or predator setup.

“Some of the findings are about what you would expect with hunters used to cold weather in the Northern states more willing to hunt in slightly colder temperatures than those hunters in the South where it rarely gets that cold,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com. “That being said, it isn’t until temperatures drop below zero that the majority of hunters nearly everywhere are ready to join their Southern brethren indoors for a hot breakfast.”

I’m not sure about you, but this hunter is ready to properly escort winter to the door and place a big, fuzzy welcome mat out for spring.  Until spring officially arrives, here’s to hoping for warm winds, bright days and the thoughts of turkeys gobbling in the sunshine and trout rising to a fly in the warmth of a lazy afternoon.