After a fresh snowfall, we travel up the mile long driveway and set our eyes on Standing Bear Lodge and the surrounding land and see no sign of activity other than the “footprints” in the snow. Pure, flawless, perfect, like a sparkly blanket. So many shapes and sizes going every direction. Who do they belong to?
With the cold, frost, and snow cover you wonder where the wildlife is but it is still around going about its daily business. With just a bit of education and a even a very basic understanding of certain creatures’ daily needs, such as food, water and shelter, you have a great opportunity to begin tracking them.
Animals move across the snow-covered ground, leaving footprints, known as tracks, behind. These tracks can tell us what creatures are living on the property and give an insight into what they have been doing.
Here at Antler Basin Ranch, wildlife shares the property with us! If you are lucky enough to see one of the beautiful creatures that live here it is exciting and pure joy to watch.
During a recent stay I spotted several white bunnies running up the hill in the dark. As the bunny/rabbit travels, its powerful hind legs strike the ground first, followed by one and then the remaining front feet before the rear legs propel it forwards again.
Every animal has a different print and if you study them you can kind of learn what prints you can see at Antler Basin Ranch. Here is a little guide to get you started:
Animal tracks: snow print identification
Fox tracks are roughly diamond shaped
Badger tracks have five toes
Rabbit prints are set closely together
Deer prints normally have a pointed front
Bird tracks look a little like arrowheads
Elk tracks are longer and more robust than those of deer. Scat is similar to deer scat, but much larger. It can be ¾ inch long. Elk also leave distinctive wallows where they dig into the ground with their hooves and antlers and wallow in the dirt
Bears have a more rounded arc to their toes and their shorter claws rarely show in tracks, grizzlies demonstrate a straighter toe line and claws that are twice as long as their toes
Moose Prints Split hooves of roughly 5” long, depending on sex of the animal. Hooves come to a point at the top
Click each image below for a closer look
So, the next time it snows, why not venture into the woods or book a night or two at Standing Bear Lodge and see what you can learn about the animal inhabitants? Who knows what adventures are waiting for you out there: what encounters, what miracles, what wonders…
As the New Year approaches, put your own footprints in the snow, start to write a new chapter of life. You can carry all the wisdom and experience and insight you’ve gained so far on life’s journey out with you into this new year.
Create your fresh footprints in the snow, embrace life in all its fullness. Live life to the full in the year to come, whatever that may look like for you.
Discover all the footprints in the snow . . . at Antler Basin Ranch.