At the heart of it all, one always has nature to rely on. It is the one constant in my life that has ‘always been there’ for me when times get tough. Nature, quite simply, is my recharge. But more specifically than that, my natural habitat is the forest. I find great comfort being tucked into a deep forest, surrounded by trees, and soaking in the sounds of a babbling brook or singing bird. And, with January in full-swing, I was really starting to feel the grip of ‘winter depression’ take hold, so I knew the time had come to get out for another hike.
Despite having a tree camera up for the last two weeks, I was unable to yield a single photo of a deer in that entire time. Not because they weren’t there – but because my camera was placed too high on the tree trunk! Naturally, I was very upset, so I’m going to give it another go this week with a fresh memory card and place it lower on the trunk.
Temperatures are cold, and while I have no issues hiking in 20 degree Fahrenheit weather, once it drops below that though, I tend to stay ‘indoors’ unless I get a particularly strong spell of ‘cabin fever’. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been into the negative degrees, and then back all the way up to an unseasonal 60 degree day in some areas.
After a downpour of rain foiled any plans Dad and I had for Saturday, we opted to try again Sunday, after temperatures dropped back down into seasonal winter weather. There was plenty of sign, just no sign of the rut. The scrape I had found only two weeks prior was now abandoned;completely covered in snow. I felt compelled to sketch the scrape, and then compelled to ‘imagine’ what the buck might’ve looked like who made it – bedded down just yards away, awaiting his next love:
As we meandered we noted coyote tracks, whitetail deer tracks, cottontail rabbit, squirrel, and mouse tracks as well! It was rather sunny and cold, and no sheds were found, but any day in the woods is a good day in my book.
One of the more interesting things we noticed were patches where deer had gathered and kicked up the snow to find food:
Deer ranges limit greatly during the winter, and even since our last visit to this location, we have seen the trails ‘switch up’, with deer concentrating closer to food sources. This should making finding our next shed antler a lot easier, hopefully! These are great locations to check because winter time food aggression causes physical disputes that may result in an antler being jarred off in the kerfuffle of survival mode. The shed we found 12/28 was in one such place, near the edge of where leaves had been all kicked up.
And so, as I sit here typing this it is snowing outside, and we are expecting 1-3 inches. I have artwork to work on tomorrow, but I’m hoping to get out again next Friday, weather and schedule permitting.