We received a nice snowfall last weekend, so when the white had settled, I ventured out to find what was written in the untouched tapestry.
Iíve been wondering about some missing characters. Where are the moose, the martens and the snowshoe hares?
I walked from our cabin to my neighbors drive down the highway. He has a private bridge that would get me across the Soda Butte. (Itís not yet frozen.)
I purposely zig zagged through the densest timber looking for sign. The snow was six inches deep perfect for tracking. I came across a spot where rosey finches had fed. Squirrel and mouse tracks were everywhere along with fox. I was breaking out of a thick stand when a bull moose suddenly burst out of the trees! He spotted me and dove back into the forest, disappearing instantly. A moment and a second larger bull appeared. This one glanced at me then came with a rush! I stepped behind a tee and the bull veered off and was gone. Whew.
I thought better of going in after them and moved on. Across the Bannock, I moved upslope. I hadnít gone far when familiar tracks greeted me. Marten. They were left by a female just a short time ago. I climbed high, crossing the martens tracks every fifty yards or so. It was obviously criss crossing the slope as it hunted.
I circled around then to return to the bridge from a different direction. As I neared the creek I crossed a large willow covered meadow. Ermine tracks dented here and there. I came across the big tracks of a moose. Following carefully, I finally spotted him feeding on the tallest willow. I circled him, staying out in the open so he could keep an eye on me. Finally I found an opening where I could get a few shots. He continued to feed, reaching down for a mouthful of snow now and then.
It was a good day. Having the moose back makes me happy. I see one now moving through the trees below the cabin. The marten tracks were encouraging. The fact they were from a female even more so. With a female around, the males canít be far away. One discouraging thing. There was no sign of snowshoe hares or grouse. It could be our fox population has cleaned them out.