The morning air is crisp. Fresh snow blankets the forest floor. Out from his den, a red fox blinks, adjusting to the morning light. He’s up early, hoping to fill his growling tummy.
Red moves slowly through the hushed forest, searching for signs of his next meal. Not even the birds are making sounds yet. A few trees crackle and complain in the frozen winter air, but Red is warm, thanks to his thick fur. He scans the landscape with his sharp eyes and listens intently with his big ears.
Red sniffs first to the right, then to the left. There! He locks onto a faint smell. But what is it? It’s not a rabbit or a mouse. Instinctively, Red crouches low, choosing his steps carefully. His nose leads him toward tall, dry grass. Little by little, the morning woods are coming alive with the sounds of other wildlife, but Red’s ears are focused completely on what’s just ahead.
The scent gets stronger. Red breaks into a trot, closing distance fast. His small, catlike paws make only whispers in the powdery snow. Did Red’s nose lead him to his next meal? What could it be?
Trembling with excitement, Red launches toward the scent, ready to spot his prey.
They burst into the sky in every direction. Red tries to grab a quail on the wing …
… but ends up with only a mouthful of snow. Red doesn’t give up the hunt. He knows the forest will provide. He waits for another sound, scent, or sign. Suddenly, a cottontail scoots by, unaware a hungry fox lurks nearby. The chase is on! The surprised rabbit zigs and zags.
That’s one fast bunny! Soon, Red grows tired of chasing the zippy rabbit. Once again, he has nothing to show for his hunt but a snow-covered snout.
The morning sun warms Red’s thick coat. He yawns slow and long. A fussy cardinal lands on a branch above him, calling Chip! Chip! Chip! Red decides to move on. Just then, his ears catch a tiny sound he knows well …
A mouse! Nothing stirs atop the freshly fallen snow, but Red hears the small sounds of a deer mouse hard at work making a den below the snow. Red hovers right above, targeting the sound. His stomach growls, as if to say, “Don’t miss again!”
Red springs straight up. Using his bushy tail to help balance, he buries his face deep in the snow. His sharp teeth snag a surprised mouse. Red’s winter hunt was a success!
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill