It wasn't that long ago that any warm feelings I held toward winter were very one-sided. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I viewed the winter months as a long season of cold weather and fighting treacherous road conditions. To me, the months of white were only enjoyable if a chair ride to the top of the mountain was involved.
At some point, I had an epiphany which helped to change this viewpoint and broaden my scope. I can credit bowhunting for changing the way I view many things this time of year.
I'll never forget my first season spent with a bow in hand. It seems like an eternity ago, however it remains clear in my mind like it was yesterday. By my second weekend of tromping the deer woods, two feet of fresh snow covered my valley. It was exciting to see the sign of my quarry's passing seem to float up from the ground and reveal itself to me. It was an entirely different world from the week prior; the woods seemed silent, yet filled with new sounds. The veil had been lifted from my eyes, and a new awareness was revealed. It was no longer just an endurance race in the cold followed by a quick descent down the mountain. This was new, and something that I'd learned to savor.
The first snow of the season is very special to hunters and something I greatly look forward to. It's a time that the animals change their patterns,become more predictable, and trackable. Their hooves and paws leaving a story within the shroud of snow, a story that I read, embrace and follow.
Before I discovered snowshoes, I viewed the deep snow as a limitation. To me, the deep snow opens up new avenues of travel that may not have been accessible earlier in the year. Just pick a line and go! Push deep and follow that herd of elk. Strap your camp to your back and access those now hard to reach areas. Do the ungulate populations a favor and take a trapping class. Predators are more vulnerable at this time of the year than any other. They are hungry, prey is concentrated, and they're much easier to glass on the white landscape. The possibilities are endless: you just have to be open and embrace them.
I see things with greater clarity these days and yearn to test mother nature on all her fronts. A tear of sadness almost forms at the corner of my eye when the warm air currents of March sweep in, taking my White Gold away for the next seven months.