There are different kinds of cold.

There’s the raw, damp cold of a 40-degree day with impending rain. It seeps into your bones and you feel its achy weight in your joints. There’s the biting cold of a stiff wind that slices through your clothes and gnaws at exposed flesh.

Then there’s deep cold. The moment you step outside it slaps you in the face. Your breath crystalizes on your mustache and your nostril hairs freeze into tiny stalactites. It seems to saturate every fiber of even the warmest clothing.

It was the latter I experienced, staring down a narrow lane cut through the Saskatchewan wilderness. The frail skin of my pop-up blind offered slight protection from the wind and shelter from the nearly constant light snow. An hour into my vigil of relative immobility I could already feel the cold fighting its way through three layers of insulation and my ThermaCELL heated insoles. “Eight more hours to go,” I thought as I stirred inside my Heater Body Suit.

The ostensible purpose for my journey to the great white north was to test Mossberg’s new Patriot rifle, a synthesis of the best characteristics from previous models and a few new features thrown in, like a detachable box magazine, fluted barrel and redesigned stock. I was also there to test myself against the elements, and hopefully shoot a deer.

Tolerate would not be an appropriate term for how you deal with the Saskatchewan cold.

You withstand, endure … survive. It may seem foolhardy to subject one’s self to such severe conditions but the potential for something extraordinary exists. Saskatchewan is well known for producing truly spectacular specimens of North America’s most popular big game animal, bucks weighing in excess of 300 pounds on the hoof and sporting thick, dark-chocolate antlers.

Meanwhile, a typical hunt is spiced with regular deer sightings throughout the day. This was no typical hunt.

Day one started with lofty goals, something sporting 160 inches of antler or more. Nine hours later my tally of encounters amounted to one doe and her fawn, who visited around noon. The paucity of deer sightings, I later learned, was the result of severe winter kill. Standards might need to be lowered if I wanted to be successful.

The goal for day two was something approaching 150. I saw about 150 woodpeckers, jays and squirrels, but no deer. It seemed that even the small creatures stirred only during the warmth of midday, when the temperatures struggled to nudge double digits. Day three, I’d be looking for a representative specimen.

Twenty-seven hours into my hunt, as the sun dipped below the trees and the cold got even colder, I was beginning to doubt the possibility of taking any deer. I was mentally preparing to pack up my gear for the long walk back when a branch snapped somewhere in the distance. Over the previous three days I’d heard plenty of branches snap, and they all turned out to be woodpeckers so I paid it little mind, which proved a costly mistake.

The big buck stepped out of the brush, its sight sending a jolt of adrenaline through my body. Fighting desperately to compose myself I slowly unzipped my Heater Body Suit and reached for the Patriot. I had the gun up and nearly out the window of my blind when the deer melted back into cover. Cursing myself, I set the gun down in my lap, tilted my head back and let out a sigh of disgust.

Then the buck did something that deer never do. He turned around. It was as if fate had caught itself sleeping and upon realizing its mistake, steered the buck back my way. This time I was ready. The gun went up and after pausing to make certain all was correct, I squeezed the trigger. Just like that my frigid vigil was over, and the thrill of taking a huge Saskatchewan whitetail was complemented quite nicely with the knowledge that I would no longer have to endure the cold.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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