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Wildersmith November 19


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 Back in the wilderness once more. My thanks are again extended to the canine residing on Hungry Jack Lake that brought you last week’s Gunflint scoop!

Well, it’s better late than never for Old Man Winter to get things going along the Trail. We wilderness beings have been getting a bit anxious as the coming of our winter express is way overdue.
But the time has finally arrived. At this writing, a fine six inches of winter down has blessed us in the Wildersmith neighborhood, with probably even more in the higher elevation snow zones.
The wet sticky stuff is stuck to every forest appendage giving another sampling of those marvelous Hallmark holiday looks. A walk down Mile 0’ Pine as the storm began to dwindle was magical last Sunday afternoon. With all of nature bowing in homage, under the weight of nature’s first real seasonal flocking, it was like strolling through a crystal tunnel.
With the new white blanket, it’s tracking time. Many little woodsy critters have already left their mark around the place. Although they have been here all the time, it is so intriguing to trace their many directions.
I been told that several hunters have already bagged their annual venison; however, some are still waiting for the right one to come along. This new tracking material might be just what they need to bring the deer gang into more sheltered confines. Hopefully all will take home a prize as the firearms season comes to a close at sundown this Sunday.
An unusual critter occurrence happened on our deck feeding rail recently. A small feeding station for squirrels, aptly called a “squirrel lunch box”, is always in use. Sometimes the little red rodents crawl inside to munch their seeds, while others pop in and out for one seed at a time.
On this particular repetition, one unsuspectingly had taken its place inside. Not knowing the lunch box was occupied, a curious and hungry pine marten came along and decided to partake of the seedy contents. 
Surprise, surprise, both animals were startled as Piney poked its head under the roof top lid. The startled marten backed out briefly, but suddenly realized that it must seize the moment.
Sadly, the squirrel was trapped and the marten was not going to be denied a bit of warm protein for dinner. After a fleeting skirmish with Piney half in the feed box and half out, a surprising short-lived battle ended.
The nutritional expedition found Piney the marten trotting off with prey in mouth and, tragically, the spirited squirrel became an entity of the hereafter. Just another day in the wilderness predator/prey theater, and the Smiths were there!
Following my brief out-of-state excursion, I returned to find an old friend, “Whiskey” the Canadian jay, waiting patiently. It had also brought along a couple of friends to the daily breakfast ritual.
The visiting gray duo has turned out to be quite timid about coming to my hand for a treat. So while my old buddy lands readily without hesitation, the ungrateful mavericks cavort about making all kinds of racket, swooping in close with no stopover.
Almost like they are biting the hand that brought them to this place of good fortune, the nervous newcomers then chase their brave kin off into the trees trying to commandeer its easy pickings. Wonder if they will ever settle down for a free “hand”-out?
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a wonderful time in the wild neighborhood!
Airdate: November 19, 2010