As I pull on my turkey boots I can’t help but think about the unseasonably warm weather that’s getting warmer and the onslaught of spring tornadoes threatening the Midwest from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Spring is almost over and I’m still thinking about the not-so chilly temperatures of our mild winter.
I only had one real opportunity this year to test the extreme protection of my Chippewa Arctic Boots. Last year I was fortunate to pursue elk in Wyoming, puddle ducks in Washington State, and Canada Geese in Saskatchewan. All three destinations held the promise of bone chilling weather, but when it was all said and done I don’t recall the mercury dipping below the freezing mark for any length of time.
Ironically it was a 2012 late season Ducks Unlimited Television trip to New York State that finally delivered a surprise cold snap. A short drive from Rochester, NY to Farmington delivered the DUTV cast and crew to the last best place to hunt, Greater Canada Geese in the U.S. – the Finger Lakes Region of Western New York.
There we met Chris Devanzo, Owner of Fish & Feathers Outfitters. Chris effectively operates between Rochester and Syracuse, NY in the heart of Lake Ontario’s southern basin – a critical stop over spot for migratory birds moving up and down the Atlantic Flyway.
Anticipating our arrival, Chris and his good friend and trusted guide Matt Krekelberg, thoroughly scouted the western Finger Lakes area ensuring we would have a hot spot to hunt – all we needed were birds. They were there in abundance! Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to relentlessly pound us for two days with heavy wind, rain, and snow (in that order). The whole time we sat in picked cornfields with Avery Finisher, layout blinds serving as our only cover.
Day one ended in a downpour. Day two was halted by zero visibility due to lake effect snow coming off Erie. On day three, the clouds parted and we were plagued by golf weather and too few birds.
For me the mild winter and early warming trend had finally culminated in a single day of bitter cold. Thankfully, the Boy Scout in me was prepared! Luckily, I had genuine lamb shearling lined boots on my feet so the prolonged exposure to the 18-degree temperature was of little concern.
Looking back now I’m a little conflicted. What’s more fun – braving the bitter cold in the goose fields? Or, picking ticks off your pant legs and swatting mosquitoes in the turkey woods? Let me know what you think!
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