388 The Book of Woodcraft marks of pause and pose, showed how the scent was wanning — how well the fox knew some good thing was near. At F he stood still for some time with both feet set down in the snow, so it was written. Now was the critical time, and straight up the redolent wind he went, following his nose, cautiously and silently as possible, realizing that now a single heedless step might spoil the hunt. CLOSING IN At G were the deeply imprinted marks of both hind feet, showing where the fox sprang just at the moment when, from the spotless snowdrift just ahead, there broke out two grouse that had been slumbering below. Away they went with a whirr, whirr, fast as wing could bear them; but one was just a foot too slow; the springing fox secured him in the air. At H he landed with him on the prairie, and had a meal that is a fox's ideal in time of plenty; and now, in deep hard winter, it must have been a banquet of delight. Now for the first time I saw the meaning of the dead garter-snake far back on the trail. Snake at no time is nice eating, and cold snake on a cold day must be a mighty cold meal. Clearly the fox thought so. He would rather take a chance of getting something better. He killed the snake; so it could not get away. It was not likely any one would steal from him that unfragrant carcass, so he would come back and get it later if he must. -But as we see, he did not have to do so. His faith and patience were amply justified. Instead of a cold, unpleasant snake, he fed on a fine hot bird. Thus I got a long, autobiographical chapter of fox-life by simply following his tracks through the snow (see heading).
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