Montana Outdoors

February 15, 2017

Alternate trail

Filed under: Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:17 pm

West Fork of Swamp Creek

This year the snow has been deep and has closed all of the hiking trails, so when cabin fever forces you outside you seek out an alternate. Yesterday’s hike was on a snowmobile track that followed the west fork of Swamp Creek road. The track is quite firm, but stepping off of it puts you thigh-deep in snow. Still, it is better than no hike at all, and the forest is just a pretty as it is in summer (minus the ground plants and wildflowers).

After seeing a little blood on the snow along the trail, after following it for about a mile, we came to a large amount of blood in the snow just off the trail. Obviously an large animal had been shot there. Today I made a report of it to the local Game Warden and he will go there tomorrow to see if there is any forensic evidence that might tell him what transpired. Big game hunting is closed in the area except for Mountain Lion and I doubt that it was a place where someone might have encountered one. There were no distinguishable cat tracks, so I suspect poaching of a deer or elk was the cause of the blood trail. Maybe I will hear more or perhaps be asked to accompany the warden to the scene tomorrow.

Along a side road on our return I saw these ice falls in an area which, in the summer, produces some beautiful Saxifrage wildflowers. Not as pretty as the little blossoms, but still…

Cliff ice

Cliff ice


  1. Your hikes look just as beautiful in the winter as they are in the other seasons. That’s why I love the four seasons, there is beauty in all of them. Interesting about the poaching. Were there drag marks where the animal was taken out? Or am I correct in assuming since the snow is so deep that the poacher was on snowmobile? I’m sure it’s difficult to ever find who did it, but it’s sickening to think about the kind of person who does illegal hunting.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — February 16, 2017 @ 8:09 am

    • Winter is a beautiful season too, but during winters like this one it is difficult to get into the wilderness.
      It appeared to me that the animal was taken out by snowmobile. It is possible that it was a cougar and the hunting season for them is still open, but I’d doubt if it was. The warden doesn’t have much to go on, but he’s good at what he does so we’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 10:30 am

  2. Not the kind of issue (blood on the trail) I find on my little walks. We sometime find bird carcasses, well cleaned.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Lynn Millar — February 16, 2017 @ 12:49 pm

    • This is rare this time of year in my experience, although not unusual in hunting season.


      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

  3. I often say “blessed be the snowmobilers” for breaking trails. I hope it wasn’t they who were poaching.
    We’ve had back to back nor’easters so we might be catching up to you in snow and ice.
    That’s a beautiful trail!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — February 16, 2017 @ 4:21 pm

    • If that was indeed poaching, it was clearly a snowmobiler. That trail, in summer, is a back country road that leads into some beautiful high country. Last summer I saw a moose in about the place from which I took the picture. I was wondering if that weather that I saw on the news would be visiting you.


      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

      • Well, I guess we can’t judge all snowmobilers by the actions of one or two.
        Yes, that weather visited and for a while acted as if it was never going to leave. They saw 16 inches in places from just one of the storms.


        Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — February 16, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

        • That’s a lot of snow! In the northwest corner of our state there have been quite a few roof failures, unusual for here.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 8:15 pm

  4. Beautiful snowy scenery! I hope the game warden discovers some evidence to hunt down the poacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — February 16, 2017 @ 6:10 pm

  5. That’s a beautiful scene, and gorgeous snow. It’s nice to have those snowmobiles to break paths for you. As you say, any hike beats no hike, and the flowers will come.

    We have our share of poaching here, too, but it certainly has decreased over the years thanks to Texas Parks & Wildlife’s “Operation Game Thief.” There often are rewards offered for information — up to a thousand dollars — and you can get a good bit of information for that kind of money. I must say, they have some darned good writers providing the summaries of activity in the game warden field notes. I stop by every now and then to read them. Some are quite humorous — especially the titles. You get the sense that whoever is writing them really is enjoying it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — February 16, 2017 @ 9:27 pm

    • There is a program like that here too, called Tip-Mont and it does get some activity. I like the local game warden better though because he gets to know a lot of people around here personally and lets them know who he is and how to contact him just as I did. I keep his phone number in my cell phone.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 10:06 pm

      • I think there are a lot of those personal connections here, too. I know a couple of the guys who work the bays here, and they’re really fine people. It always surprises me when I hear about the latest fishy thing some fisherman has tried to pull!


        Comment by shoreacres — February 16, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

        • One of the things that makes enforcement difficult here is the huge territory that a warden has to cover. Yesterday the warden was on an incident about 80 miles away. Same with the National Forest law enforcement people.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

  6. It all looks like winter beauty.
    Did you have to wear snow shoes? I do here.
    I am curious about the blood, any human tracks? animal tracks? or maybe the blood had new snow on it…..
    I do enjoy tracking.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tammie — February 16, 2017 @ 10:02 pm

    • I have not been using snow shoes because the composition of the snow at the moment makes that miserable work.
      I enjoy tracking too. The snow now has a heavy crust on it, but larger animals break through. There are plenty of deer and elk tracks as well as the snowmobile trail. The blood was fairly fresh and on top of the latest snow fall, also traces of blood on top of the most recent snowmobile track. Still, not much to go on.


      Comment by montucky — February 16, 2017 @ 10:14 pm

  7. Looks like awesome riding


    Comment by lukegraysite — February 17, 2017 @ 11:50 am

  8. Incredible blue sky; so glad you had a chance to enjoy thigh-deep snow; be careful about the poacher-dude; I expect to be seeing you this summer.


    Comment by Chad — February 17, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

  9. That’s a lot of snow, and I love those frozen falls!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — February 18, 2017 @ 12:12 pm

    • The snow was about twice that deep before we had some warm and cold cycles that packed it down. There’s just a tiny bit of a “Spring” feeling in the air now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — February 18, 2017 @ 9:14 pm

  10. Frozen waterfalls are fascinating. As a child I used to wonder how rushing water could freeze. It’s one of those magical things that happen in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — February 20, 2017 @ 4:10 pm

  11. A wonderful landscape, Montucky. The ice falls are spectacular. Hope you solve the mystery of the blood traces!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Hanna — February 22, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

  12. Excellent cold scenery!..It all looks like winter magnificence..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Indian Holidays — February 23, 2017 @ 1:35 am

    • It has been a cold winter here, but also a beautiful one.


      Comment by montucky — February 23, 2017 @ 9:25 pm

  13. I love love love the beautiful pictures! So scenic and lush and well, icy! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — February 24, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

  14. I hope the poacher can somehow be identified. Sorry for the animal that was just going about its daily routine when gunned down. Copious amounts of blood spotted on a hike would be a little disconcerting (to me).


    Comment by Candace — February 25, 2017 @ 2:33 am

    • I haven’t heard anything about the episode, but there was little evidence.


      Comment by montucky — February 25, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

  15. I enjoyed this post very much. My favorite photos are presenting melting snow / ice..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — March 1, 2017 @ 3:07 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed this Matti. We have had a very cold and snowy winter this year.


      Comment by montucky — March 1, 2017 @ 8:37 pm

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  18. A wonderful landscape, Montucky. The ice falls are spectacular. Hope you solve the mystery of the blood traces!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by sarfraz761 — May 15, 2017 @ 2:38 am

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