The loud crack of a branch snapping echoes all around me. Cursing under my breath, I slow my pace and glance down before returning my gaze to the fast-descending sun on the stark open Wyoming skyline. Only a half hour or so until the sun is completely gone. I search the scattered pines but see no sign of my prey, just the needles blowing off in the strong winter wind. I approach one of the trunks and crouch beside it, opening my pouch for a quick bit of nourishment for my final sprint in this search for the evening.
The common wisdom is that it is hard to ever catch the trail again if you’ve lost it after the third night, and that was tonight. I scarf down an energy bar and clumsily chug some water, dripping down my chin onto my boots. I stare down to where the water has fallen, watching the shadow of the tree I am resting near sway back and forth in the wind, and besides that shadow; nothing, emptiness. I steel myself for my last chance to catch my shadow and chase off into the dusk.