By Steve Galea
Now that the cold weather has finally arrived, new deer hunters might need a reminder on how to shiver correctly. As any veteran deer hunter can attest, this is one of the most important skills a hunter can have during the rifle hunt in November and later in the archery season, as well.
If your shivering is off or sub-standard, it could ruin the chance of a lifetime.
Like anything else related to hunting or fishing, the shiverer needs to learn and utilize proper form. I know, some of us think we are naturally good at shivering, but the truth is even the naturally gifted shiverer could use a few pointers.
Don’t despair, though. As relative southerners, we take to shivering well and can be easily taught. Some of the worst shiverers I know are from Baffin Island.
Not to brag, but I can tell if a hunter is not utilizing good shivering form from at least 200 metres away. Usually, the dead giveaway is the sound of teeth chattering or what looks like a cyclone of leaves or snow in the distance.
When I started late season hunting many years ago, I thought I knew how to shiver. But, frankly, when I look back on it, my initial forays, it was embarrassing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
For instance, I kept my knees too far apart so that when my kneecaps knocked, they took on the cadence of an ivory-billed woodpecker, which is believed to be extinct and was never native to Ontario in the first place. As you might imagine, deer pick on that immediately. Ideally, you want your knees to sound like the commonly found downy woodpecker. To do that, you need to place them closer together.
Later, as I progressed in skill, I realized that if I padded the knees of my hunting pants, when I shivered I could also sound like a drumming grouse once I got cold enough.
Also, when I first started, I never used to bring along beef jerky or anything else that stopped my teeth from doing a passable imitation of an old typewriter. I thought I could stop that unnatural noise by merely placing my tongue between my upper and lower teeth. It worked, too. You could not hear the chattering over the whimpering. Yet, it was not ideal.
Improper shivering also affects your marksmanship, but only if you are not quick at pulling the trigger the millisecond your sight bounces like a jackhammer over the intended target. The way to counter this is to hold your sights on the vitals of the animal until your arms are frozen in place – which should not take long in good shivering weather. Then you pull the trigger.
Expert shiverers can also cause their upper and lower body parts to shiver in opposite amplitudes in order to cancel both movements out. But that takes years of practice.
I know what you are thinking. Why shiver at all? Why not add a few more layers so that you are warm enough to sit comfortably in your stand without shivering? Ha! Spoken like a person who has never had to answer nature’s call – and quick.
No, it’s far better to shiver than face the Herculean task of undoing 26 layers with frigid fingers once the coffee kicks in.
Take it from me, the best way is to learn to control your shivering. Until then, stay frosty my friends.