I have always loved winter; playing outside, sledding, snowmobiling and skiing. It wasn’t until recently that I started ice fishing and snowshoeing. Now that I have a kiddo who also loves the outdoors, we have to find ways to get outside, even when it’s snowing.
Tracking animals: Winter is the perfect time to figure out what kind of animals you have around your home or property. It is a great scouting tool and it helps kids understand what animals are near their home and how to identify them by the tracks they leave in the snow. Deer are some of the easiest and we have spent hours following deer trails to see where the deer are traveling. This is especially fun if you know where the deer herd yards up and can look for sheds while out in the woods. Snowshoe hare leave unique tracks and they change color throughout the year, which is always appealing to kids. We don’t love seeing coyote tracks but as a hunter, it helps you understand where they are moving and kids can see how canines leave nail tracks with their paw prints as opposed to any cat track like a bobcat. Turkey are easy to follow as well and it’s amazing to see where they travel compared to where you have traveled.
Ice fishing: We have been fortunate to have friends who know how and where to ice fish and my kiddo has loved every adventure out. Last February, we went to a small pond and set up the traps. Every time a flag would go up, the kiddo would jump into the green plastic sled that we brought (the ice was too slick and we wore crampons to get around) and we would run to the bright orange flag flying. He would get out and start pulling on the line, almost before an adult could help.
As we pulled up pickerel and bass, he learned what each type of fish looked like, which ones have teeth and how to stick his thumb into the mouth of a bass in order to hold it up before putting it back into the water. He would also help with putting the bait fish into the water. We brought home a 18 inch small mouth that my son would have hugged the entire 3 hours back home had we let him. When we cooked it, he ate more than any of us.
Sledding and snowmobiling: There is no better way to see some of the remote places of Maine, than by snowmobile. My family has always had snowmobiles and I have many great memories of sitting behind Mom or Dad exploring the woods and smaller trails. We would go to dinner at nearby restaurants and get there via snowmobile. It offers up a brand new look at the scenery. I also remember lots of great trips on the inner tube or big black sled that we would tie to the back of the snowmobile and go for rides around the nearby fields. Sure, we would fall off and get face full of snow, but that was just par for the course.
There are so many ways to get outside and enjoy the snow this time of year. Getting kids outside helps to create and maintain their love of the outdoors and appreciation for all of the great seasons that we have here in Maine.