Butch breasted through the deep snow ahead of us, the light tinkling of his tags a sharp sound in the quiet hardwoods. The bright morning sunshine made sparkling rainbow-ladened crystals out of the soft covering that had fallen the night before.
We topped over a knoll and headed down toward the cedar swamp that filled the small valley before us. A small creek that wandered down off the mountain in the distance, meandered through the middle of this depression, backed up on the east end by an active beaver dam.
We came upon the tracks of three deer that had come up out of the thickness sometime in the last couple of hours and worked their way up toward the beech knoll high above us. The light wind had not moved any fluff into their tracks so we knew they were fresh. The deep depression of the dew claws on one indicated he was a big buck. Butch turned his head at the smell as we crossed the run, but kind of ducked and moved on as he knew the penalty for chasing deer.
It was cold this early in the morning, but the warming sun was promising a beautiful day. The long-legged underwear beneath my green Johnson wool pants and wool jacket kept me very warm. This was not the bulky outfityou would wear if you were going to stand around ice fishing. All the wonderful discoveries of modern science have never found a substitute for light natural wool. It is the answer for easy walking in the cold.
Crossing the brook, we turned along the old woods road that led into the swamp. Just at that moment Butch sounded off in the tight cedars to our right. The chase was on. In a few minutes we crossed our first fresh rabbit track of the day and the wide trough just to the left indicated that Butch was plowing along in the chase.