George Block Column

Nature protects animals in extreme weather

Nature protects animals in extreme conditions

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It seems everyone feels sorry for the animals living in the back 40 acres and feeds them.


I’m guilty of feeding them as well, yet I know they can survive the cold weather as long as they aren’t starving and can get out of the wind. Nature has treated the whitetail deer well.


In the summer, they wear a red coat and, in the winter, the coat turns nearly blue. The blue coat insulates so well, deer can been seen with unmelted snow on their back.


When deer have their blue coat, they lose very little body heat. While the deer depend on this coat, which is actually two layers – the guard hair and the undercoat, other animals utilize other methods to keep warm.


Groundhogs and chipmunks just stay underground until things look a little better. During the summer and fall, they create an underground bunker that consists of a bedroom and an outhouse.


• Most bucks dropped their antlers by now, and I know a few people who start looking for sheds in February.


I did this one winter long ago and found eight sheds. I was hoping for a matched pair, but every antler I found belonged on the left side.


While nature provides a warm coat for deer, we mortals have to purchase ours. Nothing insulates better than a goose down coat.


• There are a few things we should be doing to pass the days as we wait to pick up the fishing rod and head for nearby water.


I know a lot of people out there failed to clean their rifle after deer season.


Even if you only carried the rifle outside once, it still needs a patch run through the barrel and must be cleaned with an oily rag. Make that a slightly oily rag.


When doing this, be careful with the rag and the scope. Oil that gets on the lense of the scope can be all but impossible to remove.


It’s a good idea to wipe the gun clean with the lens cap in place.


Moisture creates rust and common sense says not to put a wet rifle in its case and ignore it until next year. Check everything, including the sling.


• Today will be the last day of our deer antler measuring session at Gander Mountain.


I will still measure some deer or bear at my home or at the owner’s home, but the Washington Crown Center and Harrisburg shows are all but history.


Only the Allegheny Sports Show remains. It will run Feb. 12 through 16 at the Monroeville Convention Center.


I’ll probably attend the first day. Ask my friend, Dennis Razza, who is a taxidermist, if I am in the building.


• February is a short month and groundhogs don’t know anything about the weather.


• The March fishing season isn’t far away. Like everyone, I need to straighten out my gear and get ready for the upcoming season.


Part of that preparation involves buying a fishing license. One thing for sure, I got my money’s worth out of the lifetime license I purchased.


In the early season, I use Power Bait to catch trout. My equipment of choice in March is a simple No. 6 or 8 hook, split shot and medium light rod.



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.


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