Yellowstone Reports

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Walk About

Looking For Tracks
by Dan Hartman

Nov. 27, 2012

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.


View slide show

Silver Gate Bull Moose

Sign Of Feeding Finches

Marten Tracks

Willow Meadow

White Muzzled Moose