I was not the first out. The path through the woods show the signs of others who have been there before but that doesn’t matter. I will be breaking off into the woods as soon as I find a track, off into the places where only the deer know. Deeper into the woods and only my own foot prints mar the snow. At a place where I know deer love I find what I’m looking for – signs that two animals have crossed a small field, their tracks merging and diverging as they leave the shelter of the hedge and cross out into the open.
The snow does not fall even, in the deep covers beneath canopies of spruce and larch there is hardly a dusting, along the margins of fields where the woods have taken the brunt of the storm there is a clear line of brown but out in the open, in places where shelter has not been afforded the snow is deep and powdery, blowing to and fro in the strong eastern wind. The snow has fallen heavily over night, these are new tracks but they are changing even as I look at them, covered by windblown snow, there edges flattening and blurring. I find orange snow stained by urine, roe pellets and disturbed ground. I lack the snow knowledge to recognise how old the tracks and signs are, how hot the trail. I decide the follow them and find out.