January 16, 2005


Meeting Report & Photos by Skeet Sutherland

On any normal January 16, Alexis would be awaiting the arrival of the days participants, 15 minutes  early, as usual. I, on the other hand, had been up to the late hours of the mourning working on a elm bow that my teachers said was going to become an addiction. Needless to say, Jonathan, James, Cole and Craig broke out on the trail like a bunch of cooped up coon dogs before I even arrived. But this provided an interesting opportunity for how the day was to follow.

They had a head start and there were multiple tracks along the main trail (7 or more people and a dog). I headed out with this in mind and quickly came across 4 sets of tracks heading off the trail up a steep incline into the thick Spruce. One set was of non-conventional footwear. Then came the faint Red squirrel alarms from of in the distance. I knew deep down, those were the trackers I was looking for making that alarm. I had the advantage now I knew were they were. I headed up the trail in a stealthy run, tucked around and came up right behind them. Jonathan saw me first and that ceased our little game of cat and mouse. We humorously retraced theirs steps and how we all ended up here, after our little game.

We had a snack on the trail or some of us up in the spruce and discussed how erosive forces change the landscapes features over time. Then someone asked where the deer were hanging out these days and if anyone had seen any sign of them. With that in mind we headed out.
Within 50 m. we came across many single deer trails converging as they traversed the hillsides and spreading apart again as they came up on knolls.
We followed the trails and came across a shrub that seemed to grow among the mixed hardwoods, that no one seemed to recognize.
It grew low to the ground, being 3m tall at most, each individual seemed fairly flimsy and most had at least one weird bend or crook in the main stem.
The twigs were stout with a slight bend at each nodule, giving the twigs an offset look to them. The buds were tiny, fuzzy, blond at the base and dark at the tip and almost embedded in the end of each section as if to be covered or protected. The trunk and larger stems was grayish-blue to gray to brown with whitish horizontal lenticels. The bottom of the trunk, a lighter beige color.
The twigs were lighter in color at the ends as well, changing abruptly at the nodules.
A little ways up, next to the trail we came across some green still above the snow cover. Small, horsetails and grasses. Apparently not browsed on at all.
Then where the young eastern hemlock formed a low canopy some scrape marks showed us were a rutting buck formed it’s territory this past fall. Notice the second one next to it. On the eastern side of the hemlocks three day beds sat overlooking the whole open understory of the hardwoods.
On we followed to see were they would lead us next.
Among the hardwoods here, there are still remnant dead standing Butternut trees. This one has been shedding dead limbs onto the understory saplings. Within a couple of minutes we had the young ones free of there burdens and
the dead wood on the ground.
Trails among the hardwoods, in the day beds among the hemlocks, along the valley and across the creek, the deer had us all over, even out in the open meadows.
It seemed the deer were in every habitat of this area. Here they passed, traversing the bank of the ice-sculpted river.

And we find ourselves back at the vehicles still wondering who this little shrub is. We all sensed its seemingly feeble presence today, knowing we’ll find out what they call him when we get home. Asking the elders on the book self about our new found friend. Together we followed the deer learning their secrets of existence without having them physically there to observe. Their wisdom, as with all the other inhabitants of the forest told us of their presence in the subtle tracks they left everywhere they went. It was a great day, and I’d like to thank James, Cole, Jonathan, Craig and all who made tracks today, for leaving your story for us to read. Until next time, Happy trailing.

Skeet Sutherland


The material on this page is copyright © by the original author/artist/photographer. This website is created, maintained & copyright © by Walter Muma
Please respect this copyright and ask permission before using or saving any of the content of this page for any purpose

Thank you for visiting!