A hunter and the hunted.
|Only the winter hawk remained. Song birds and squirrels fled before the snow squeaking footsteps below. Unafraid, its ebony eyes followed Brad Erikson’s passage along the forest trail. It had no idea Brad was hunting it.
Brad stopped again and listened. The woods were so quiet this time of year. He ought to hear a winter hawk’s cry despite his clumsy trek. If only he could walk like the Indians in the old TV westerns. They could stalk their prey as silently as a fog. Instead he blundered along like a huffing buffalo.
A brief gust of wind sprinkled powdery snow onto his up turned face. Raising his binoculars, he swept the branches. No winter hawks. No creatures of any kind. Disappointed Brad hiked along the trail.
The winter hawk watched Brad top the hill and disappear down the other side. It took flight skimming over the trees until it settled on a branch just above Brad. As Brad progressed, the winter hawk followed.
Just as it was ready to reduce the gap, it spotted a mouse dart across an open space and dash into a tunnel beneath the snow. The winter hawk shrieked a cry of excitement as it rocketed down. An explosion of white obscured its impact. In the next second the winter hawk winged away with a meal in its talons.
Brad stopped shuffling through the snow and listened. He’d heard a bird of prey cry, but was it a winter hawk? He was within a mile of the trail head parking lot. Clouds now covered the sun and the wind was picking up. He worried the subtle clues for staying on the trail would completely disappear in the dark. Brad decided it wasn’t a winter hawk’s cry. How could he be so lucky, right?
Finally, hiking stick and binoculars tossed on to the back seat, Brad drove out of the parking lot toward a warm home. Another attempt to see a rare winter hawk was ending in disappointment. Upon a high branch next to the parking lot, dark eyes watched him go. Only the winter hawk remained.