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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter great time for a walk in Hoosier woods, view birds, other animals

Winter has just started and already some folks are suffering for the cold-weather blahs. Sports shows aren’t yet in full-swing, and there isn’t enough ice for solid-water fishing. So what’s a person to do to deal with the blahs.
Winter is a good time for many outdoor activities including hiking. In fact it is one of the best times for a walk in the woods, for getting outdoors.
While many people park themselves by the fireplace or in front on that new flat screen TV brought by Santa, most winter days are good for hiking in the woods. Hey, football is over (The Colts are thankful). 
There are bad winter days not fit for man nor beast, but most can be enjoyable if you are properly dressed and carrying appropriate gear.
So what’s so great about a winter walk? One advantage is you can see more. Often you can see things you can’t when leaves are hanging on trees and other plants. Not only can you see rock formations, cabins, etc., it also is great for watching birds and various animals such as wild turkeys, squirrels, rabbits and deer. It’s a good time to scout for next spring’s turkey.
Many birds migrate, but there are plenty that don’t that are enjoyable to watch during winter months.
And now, through mid-March you also have a shot at seeing an eagle. While more and more eagles now nest in this part of the country, many migratory eagles spend their winters in the area.
Another good reason for winter hiking is the lack of pesky insects. There’s no need to worry about mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks are rare. About the only time you may run into a tick is a warm winter day, when the pests become active.
When there is a small snowfall, the woods truly can become a winter wonderland. Often small waterfalls turn into a thing of beauty when the water freezes making an attractive sculpture.
While enjoying a winter hike, there are a couple of safety rules to keep in mind. Wear plenty of warm clothes, and wear them layered. You can always take off a layer, if you become too warm. But if you are cold and don’t have extra clothes you can be in trouble.
Anytime you are hiking it is a good idea to hike with someone. It’s also a must that you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. This advice is particularly important in the winter. In summer if you are lost a half day, it may be a little frightening, but you won’t die from hypothermia. That isn’t the case in winter time. Should you fall and injure a leg, it could be a really serious problem while you await someone to find you.
Now is a good time to get off the couch and enjoy a winter hike. Many state parks have special winter events. Check out a park in your area. The Perry County Parks Department conducts regular hikes, and people from outside the county are welcome.
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LINCOLN PARK FEATURED -- Outdoor Indiana magazine’s January-February issue features an eight-page removable and collectable insert about Lincoln State Park in Spencer County .
  The full-color feature story tells how the state park got its start and has evolved, and its ties with our 16th president, who spent his formative years in the area. 
According to a Department of Natural Resources news release, the article includes tales even veteran park goers may not know.
  The new Outdoor Indiana is available now at most DNR properties and most Barnes & Noble stores in Indiana for $3 a copy. Purchase of a $12 subscription gets you six issues to keep you up to date on Indiana ’s outdoor heritage all year.
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Contact writer Phil Junker by email at:
For more outdoors with Phil Junker, contact his blog at:

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