There is not much an outdoor person can do when the temperatures are south of zero and the wind chills are lower than Anchorage. It has given me time to reflect on another cold winter.
When the blizzard of 1978 began, I was ice fishing. The barometric pressure hit an all-time low and the fish really bit well. I took some kids to wrestling matches at the Armory and was later snowed in for seven days.
I had a water pipe freeze and just about ran out of food. A brush laden ditch ran near where I was living. I used traps to catch rabbits to put meat on the table.
The ice, that winter, was better than 20 inches thick. I often took a fellow fishing that had a heart condition. I had to drill his holes and mine too.
Those were the days when we fished Monroe Reservoir and the lake offered some great bluegill fishing. One day Uncle Art Smith and I were so antsy to go that we left good judgment behind.
We parked at the back end of Moore's Creek and walked almost a mile to the mouth of the bay. As it was, we were cold with an air temperature of near zero, but when the wind came up our anticipated fun almost turned to tragedy. We had lanterns in our ice sleds to no avail. "It is so cold that these darn things won't light," said Uncle Art.
The truck was too far away; frostbite was almost certain if we could not get warm. We were adjacent to a long point that ran between the Payntown and Moore's Creek bays. There we gathered dead wood and Art built a fire.
When the fire took off, I got close. Later, I noticed that my poly material snow suit's legs had scorched and split down the front. My shins were burned and blistered, but I couldn't feel it at the time because I was so cold.
When we arrived at the truck a weather report, on the radio, revealed the wind chill to be a minus 25. Had it not been for Uncle Art's skill at starting fires, the outcome might have been more serious than my burned shins.
These days, I use better judgment, but tomorrow will be just fine for ice fishing and Saturday even better for rabbit hunting. For my birthday Monday, I plan to ice fish my favorite lake in southern Indiana and visit Daughter Jourdan at IU.
I can't leave my beagle Daisy in all the time so besides putting a chemical hand warmer in the doghouse, I shoveled snow up even with the bottom edge of the roof. Snow makes good insulation.
The East Central Indiana Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is holding its annual fundraising banquet Saturday evening, February 8, 2014 at the Blue Falls banquet facility in Pendleton. Reservations need to be made by Saturday. Call Rich Creason at 649-8482.
Rick Bramwell's weekly outdoors column typically runs on Thursdays.