Forty degrees and three inches of melting snow, sun just cresting the ridge top. Grouse flushed to my right even before we left the car. We found the terminus of the bird's tracks, dog wild with fresh scent. Off we trudged, through pine stand, bar berry thicket and witch hazel meadow.
I followed grouse tracks, none as fresh as the ones we first encountered. An old compulsion, my zen quest. The dog, olympic marathoner, was also drawn to the old tracks, crossing them but never anchored to them as was I. Several points but no birds.
We crossed fresh porcupine tracks in the snow. Sweat, snow, thick cover.
Finally, fresh grouse tracks. Dog locked in point. Nothing. Dog relocated, then moving in slow motion, thick scent slowing her to a creep.