The winter blues. Storm after storm has hit the Midwest this year leaving snow and ice in record amounts. It has put a damper on shed hunting or even getting to certain areas to check the game cameras still hanging on the side of a tree somewhere over that now-buried winter wheat field. How do we get through these rough winters and what is there to do? If you are like me, it just gives you more time to stew and fret about what is going to happen to the deer herds and turkey flocks. How are these animals going to survive the tough winter? The animals whether it is deer, turkey, elk or small game have been survivors for decades and know what to do. So I guess if we have the food sources out there for them and the other foods Mother Nature has provided -why worry. With deep snow and no shed hunting in sight for awhile, what is there to do? The off season is a great time to fine tune your hunting and shooting skills along with heading out to many deer and turkey shows to see what’s new for the upcoming year. First, if you want to work on your bow shooting skills, head to your local archery club and sign up for winter league then follow that up with spring and summer 3-D shoots. This way next season you will not have to worry about your shooting abilities. As guns, take up varmint hunting and practice those long range coyote shots or go squirrel/rabbit hunting as this keeps you with the constant feel of looking through a scope or down the barrel of a gun. Do these things and you will feel more comfortable and confident with both weapons next fall. Next you can head out to a deer and turkey show near you and listen to seminars with how- to’s on a variety of topics. You can also check out in person all the new gear you’ve heard and read about. You can pick up some new tips and gear and practice with it for months instead of just weeks. Pick up some game calls and understand the sounds and practice them till they are just right instead of hoping they sound right when you pick them up the day before season. Doing these things will keep you occupied through the end of February, March and the first of April, or until the snow melts anyway, when you can get out and look for sheds. Of course, turkey season is right around the corner!