There was between one and two inches of snow in the Big Woods; enough to show tracks of the wildlife that had been moving about, but mostly too fluffy to produce sharp, well-defined tracks.
Nonetheless, in places the snow did provide identifiable tracks:
White-tailed Deer –
Gray Squirrel –
Gray Fox –
A maze of gray squirrel tracks crisscrossed a well-defined path that a coyote had followed for a while; there the coyote’s tracks were pretty clear. Shortly, the coyote tracks became blurred and undecipherable and it became apparent that something else had walked over them –
After a little way some of the tracks were quite obvious: A fisher had walked on top of older coyote tracks –
The fisher had traveled in the coyote’s tracks, following them virtually step for step as the coyote detoured around trees and deviated from the trail to investigate old stumps and clumps of vegetation and then returned to the trail again. The paired tracks went along like that for well over a quarter mile.
Earlier in the season hair, blood and disturbed leaves showed that a hunter had used the trail to drag a deer out of the woods. So, I assumed that the coyote and fisher might have been headed for the pile of entrails that the hunter had left when he field-dressed the deer. Wrong! Suddenly the fisher tracks disappeared – it had climbed a trail-side tree, a tree with a large cavity where the fisher was probably spending the daylight hours.
The coyote tracks continued on for almost another quarter mile and then veered off the trail and up a steep hillside. Neither of the animals had been headed for the remaining scraps from the deer.