Sights and Sounds: Moving Through the Woods in the Wintertime

wintertime woods stealth

Winter does not always mean a blanket of snow is on the ground, and thus, may make camouflaging difficult, when there is patchy snow, green foliage, grays rocks and dried leaves on the ground.

Snow means visible tracks as well. Therefore, snow on the ground is not always good, however, a snowstorm can offer cover for those needing to move about unseen in some cases.

If in a heavily wooded area, you will experience earth tones, like browns, grays, and evergreen foliage. Moving out of the woods to cross a field you will find snow possibly and golden colored grasses or light tan or buckskin colors as well. Very hard to blend in given all the colors and it would not be practical to pack various camouflage outfits. You have to make do with what you have, but first, you need to know the geography. 

Your typical woodland Camo outfits would probably be sufficient for most areas of the country that experience cold weather and snow. There are outfits that mimic the various colored leaves as they turn in the fall, and then there are outfits that mimic the earth colors when the leaves are off the trees. Then there are Camo suits specifically for snow, which you probably will not need unless in upper Canada or parts of Alaska or some other region with heavy snow covers.

You probably will not be wandering in the woods long enough to see the leaves turn from green to amber, reds, and browns and then to no leaves at all. Tailor your outfits to the seasons and this may mean you need two to three suits and carry the one needed for the particular season in which you are out and about.

As far as walking across a snow-packed field, a white sheet wrapped around you could provide some camouflage. However, if you are in stealth mode, it is not recommended you wander across a field, but rather skirt the edges using hedgerows and trees to move unseen around the field. Use the sheet when stationary such as when you are taking a break, or gathering intelligence from a static location such as from a Listening Post (LP) or Observation Post (OP).

Carry a black marker and/or camo sticks to subdue any shiny parts on your gear, shoes lace eyelets and any shiny metal on your firearms/weapons. If someone is scanning an area with scopes or binoculars, any reflection can be easily picked up, so when moving during daylight hours make sure you have subdued any metal that may reflect the sun.

Use Ranger bands to secure buckles and straps to stop any noise and to keep loose straps from flapping around. Experts scan using their peripheral vision and a flapping strap can be easily picked up out of the corner of a tracker’s eye.

Tracks in the snow can be spotted using scopes and binoculars, so move at night when possible to prevent someone from spotting your tracks at a distance. If you do move during the daylight hours tracks in the snow may distort due to radiant heating so they may be hard to distinguish from animal tracks in some cases. It may be best to move when the sun is shining in hopes your tracks melt to the point they can be confused with an animal track. Again, a snowstorm can be your friend if it covers your tracks.

Keep your riflescope lenses covered and the same goes for spotter scopes and binoculars. The glass’s reflection can be seen for miles.

When the leaves are gone, sound travels farther, because the leaves act as a noise buffer, not to mention, once gone they do not conceal any movement.

Moving at night when there is snow on the ground is not the same as movement in the warmer months. Snow reflects the moon and you can be easily spotted moving about when there is a good moon out. Use cloud cover, fog and snow falling to your advantage. Snow falling muffles sound as does fog and of course, both can conceal you.

If you need to be in the woods in the winter and you need to hide your presents there, you need to plan. Know the area, i.e. colors, ground cover, and keep track of the moon phases and weather patterns, temperature and know what upcoming weather events may look like as well.