A trail of blood drops through shallow snow, crossing and re-crossing the trail from the Cabin to the clearing. At one point there is a big gout of red, before the trail heads off down through rocks, pine cones and brambles.
A mystery. Oliver sniffs all around the red pockmarks; if he knows, he can’t explain to humans.
A neighbor comes up with a possible story. Bow season on public land just ended. A wounded deer, a frantic flight from the hunter.
It’s not that I love deer so much, want to Bambi-ize them, we have too many for that. Their tracks are as thick across our land as the flakes in a snowstorm. But I can’t help but imagine this animal staggering under its injury, or bounding through the night, strong with adrenaline as its blood spills and its life seeps away. We have a healthy buck in our woods, and I wouldn’t want that to be his last trek.