It was 35 degrees as I left the house in a drizzle this morning. Maybe it is because days like this remind me of my early days of bowhunting, but I love to be in the woods on days like this. It was very quiet walking, and I startled the wood duck pair as I checked on them in the beaver pond.
The effects of winter were very evident. The young white pines, 2’ to 8’ in height, were still not upright. They were almost all still bent in a bow position after being buried by the heavy wet snows. The ground was almost carpet smooth as all the leaves were matted flat. Every hardwood sapling that was off the beaten path had been browsed.
The good news is I saw some encouraging signs. First were some fresh deer and moose droppings. Later I would find significant sign of what I’m sure is our resident cow moose. We have watched her grow from a six-month-old three years ago, and it is encouraging that she appears to have made it through a tough winter. She has spent most of her life not very far from Buck Knob, and it appears she wintered there. There were tons of droppings on the south-facing slopes, where you could just picture her lying in the rising sun’s rays this winter. I thought I heard her trotting off in front of me, despite the quiet conditions. A very fresh pile of droppings confirmed what I thought. I hope it was her we caught on the video last fall, baying for a bull to show up. I further hope that the big bull that showed up 25 minutes later caught up to her. I think you can bank on that. So with a little luck, we may witness our once little girl becoming a mother. If we are real lucky maybe twins.
I checked the camera on Buck Knob, and was not encouraged as photo after photo was caused by wind and shadows when the last two were of a doe and a yearling.
It is great that they made it through the winter, but she doesn’t look pregnant. She should have driven the yearling off if she was going to give birth soon. Does should be dropping their fawns anytime from now until the end of May with the youngest of them giving birth last.
If a winter is really tough, the does will lose their embryos in an effort to survive themselves. The number of fawns seen in the spring and summer are key to assessing the winter mortality.