Cashing in on white Gold.

13 Feb

The woods give way to winter's heavy blanket. This is a prime opportunity to be out and observe a whole different side of the mountains.

The woods give way to winter’s heavy blanket. This is a prime opportunity to be out and observe a whole different side of the mountains.

“When the temperature drops, a white coat enfolds.

The mountain grows silent, cept’ for crackling ice entow.

A soft descent, whether the North Winds will blow.

Heavens wide open; to release winter’s White Gold.”

It wasn’t that long ago; that any warm feelings I held toward winter, were very one-sided. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest; I viewed the winter months as a long endurance of cold weather and fighting treacherous road conditions. To me the months of white were only enjoyable if a chair lift ride to the top of the mountain was involved and immediately followed by some high speed s-turns; with either sticks or a board strapped to my feet.

At some point I had an epiphany which helped to change my views and broaden my scope. I know that I always appreciated how the coat of white brought a different kind of beauty to the landscape…but it was shallow in depth. I really think that I can credit bowhunting for changing the way I view a lot of things about this time of year.

Nothng quite compares to a day spent afield during a sunny day during the months of white.

Nothing quite compares to a day spent afield during a sunny day during the months of white.

I’ll never forget my first season spent with a bow in my hands. It seems like an eternity ago…but I can remember it like it was yesterday. By my second weekend of being out in the deer woods; a fresh coat of snow that was two feet deep, covered my little valley. It was exciting to see the signs of my quarry’s passing; seem to float up from the ground and reveal it’s self to me. It was a whole new world from the week prior…the woods seemed silent; yet filled with new sounds. The soft falling of snow filled the air like quiet static; the metallic tinkling of ice crystals bouncing off of my clothing. The soft squish and woosh of my boots; as I still hunted along the trail. The veil had been lifted from my eyes and a new awareness was being revealed to me…there no longer was just an endurance of cold and a quick descent. This was something new and something that I’ve learned to savor.

The first snow of the season is definitely a very special thing to hunters and something I greatly look forward to. It’s a time that the animals all change their patterns and become more “pattern-able”. While for some it may not be too drastic…it means a new way of life for others. They all become more trackable; with their hooves and paws leaving their story within the layers of snow. You can often tell the time of their passing down to the minute and tell exactly their attitude or how they are feeling; just by observing the amount of snow in a track, or by the drag marks they leave behind.

Here Moose, Elk and Deer tracks cross each other on a beautiful sunny day.

Here Moose, Elk and Deer tracks cross each other on a beautiful sunny day.

I used to view the deep snow as a limitation…that was before I discovered snow shoes. To me the deep snow opens up new avenues of travel that may have not been possible; maybe even the week prior. Just pick a line and go! It’s usually that simple. Push deep and follow that herd of elk. Strap your camp to your back and access that area with un-plowed roads. They may have been lined with hunting camps during the weeks of September…but remain empty and unpressured through the late seasons. Do the ungulate populations a favor and take a trapping class. Take advantage of the predator’s need for extra calories during the cold months and help thin out their numbers by appealing to their winter-appetites. This time of year holds plenty of new possibilities; you just have to be open and embrace them.

Somehow I am constantly taken aback; how the white-coated ridglines and mountain tops seem to stand out in HD clarity and bring the lines of topography into clear focus. Everything seems to pop out at you; seeming larger and much closer. I see things much clearer these days and yearn to test mother nature on all her fronts. A tear of sadness almost forms at the corner of my eye…when the warm air currents of March sweep in…and take my White Gold away for the next seven months.

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