I truly have a love-hate relationship with snow.
I love the atmosphere it occasionally brings to my life but I hate shoveling it and driving in it. I very much relished the mild, snowless weather we had this fall, but as I write this the first real snowfall of the winter is in full swing.
When the land lies covered with snow, it gives birth to a special sort of silence. It's a heavy quiet, a noticeable absence of sound that we are not privileged to experience often. If you are on a deer watch in a freshly fallen snow, deep in the woods, every nerve stretched with the anticipation of a buck's appearing, the silence is eerie and wonderful.
When you do see the forms of deer ghosting through the snowy woods, your heart pounds and hands tremble as you strain to see whether any of the deer do or do not have antlers. Once your quarry is down, snow makes tracking, if that be necessary, easier. Certainly, sliding a deer out of the woods on snow is a breeze as compared to the same chore done over dry ground.
Find turkeys in a fresh snow and you have a hunter's dream situation. You can follow their tracks until you come upon them. Snow definitely makes it easier for a hunter to spot game in the woods. Many hunters do some profitable scouting right after a fresh snow, looking for the travel lanes of deer, clearly defined in the snow and for shed antlers.
Snow in the city, however, is seldom more than a nuisance: something to shovel, fall in, dig out of, skid on and cancel plans because of. These are the reason why I am really not a lover of snow. If all I had to do was sit by a fireplace in a cabin in the woods and enjoy the beauty of it, I'd say the more snow the better. But since I have to live in it day after day, I say the less the better. I am aware that snow adds nutrients to the soil so we need some.
Once, years ago, I sat in a cabin on top of a mountain, alone, a fire blazing in the fireplace. I pulled a chair over to the picture window and watched the snow covered mountain. I didn't have to go anywhere or do anything except to sit there and enjoy. The snow enveloped the big pine trees outside the window and it twinkled and sparkled in the cabin light and I was nearly hypnotized by it.
Next morning, I went out walking in it, taking pictures of what seemed to be a world of white velvet. I was as if I were walking about in a realife Christmas card. "Except Christmas card snow scenes always have the red cardinal perched on a snow covered evergreen tree," I said to myself. In moments, a cardinal actually flew in and landed on a snowy branch. If felt like a modern Alice in Wonderland for awhile.
Snow is one thing, ice is quite another. Ice transforms the woods and fields into treacherous footing for hunters and wildlife alike. The after-Christmas deer and small game seasons will attract only the most hardy among us and I admit to not being one of them. I cannot even imagine the misery of being on deer stand in the cold, wind and ice.
If you found the antlerless deer you bagged during season was actually a button buck, and you lamented that here would be one less buck for next season, here is a tidbit for you. The tagged-deer study that has been going on for a couple years now has revealed a fascinating fact.
The button bucks we harvested last deer season would not have been in that area come next deer season, in all probability. The study has revealed that those button bucks were the fawns of the last year still running with their mother, when the rut will come in this fall, they are the ones that will be run off quickly and will have to relocate. Many of the tagged button bucks were harvested as legal bucks many miles away from their original location. This was a surprising fact to me.
Until deer season, a year ago, when I came upon a really nice 10-point dead in a small creek on the first morning of rifle season. Thinking it had been wounded earlier that morning, I began to look closer and then I discovered that actually, the buck had been dead a couple days. There were reward tags in its ears.
When I called in to report the finding of this tagged buck they were able to tell me that it had been tagged as a button buck a year and a half earlier, many, many miles from where I found it.