IdahoNumerous springs keep miles of the North Fork of the Snake River ice free all winter.

Elk and mule deer have deserted the high country.  To be sure a very few have either tried to winter here or perhaps did not migrate soon enough and were stranded by heavy snow.  But their odds for survival are poor for they are not adapted to this heavy snow country like moose.

As snow gets deeper on the Yellowstone Plateau small numbers of white-tail deer are forced into the rivers.  The shallow river provides everything the deer need to survive; food, protection from predators and a place where the deer can travel without becoming bogged down in snow up to six feet deep.  The deer hide under overhanging snow banks and even bed down in an inch or two of water.


I could sometimes slip up on the deer by paddling upstream and floating back down the river in a kayak.  I kept a camera with a three hundred millimeter lens between my legs as I paddled.  At other times I would snowshoe along the river.  Either way the skittish white-tails would usually manage to thwart my stalk.  But when they didn’t, it was magic.




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