Maine’s woods are full of mysteries, large and small. Sometimes, those of us who spend time afield might not recognize all of the mysterious goings-on around us. At other times — like when there’s a fresh coating of snow on the ground — the evidence is much more clear.
For me, even the most common group of animal tracks in the snow can turn into a mystery worth solving.
The first question, of course, is the simplest: What made these tracks?
Then, more complex questions spring to mind: Where was this critter going? What was it up to? Why do these tracks end right here?
Of course, the best mysteries are the ones that never get beyond that first question. In those cases, we’re left with a bunch of footprints in the snow, and no real idea of what kind of wild beast had stopped by for a visit.
I know moose. And deer (usually, though you may doubt that after reading the rest of this column). Wild turkeys are easy to identify, too. But there are all kinds of gaps in my knowledge base, and all it takes is a bit of snow in an otherwise clear track to throw me off course.
And I’m amazed at how many times a fellow outdoors enthusiast will admit that they’re not so great at identifying animal tracks, either. Many of us are in the same club, apparently.
When there’s a bit of snow on the ground, a simple walk in the woods can leave me wondering what I’m sharing the forest with.
John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...
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