NOT ALL STORIES ARE told with words put on paper. Not all stories are told with words spoken by humans.

Some of the best, most compelling and awesome stories are told in silence, with marks in the snow and eerie sounds penetrating dark, nighttime air.

Just recently, my wife and I listened to one of those stories being told. It was sometime during the middle of the night when the story began. My wife is one of those people who likes to have a bedroom window cracked at least partway even if the outside temperature is down to 30 degrees and it was because of that we were able to listen in to an age-old story of nature being played out.

It began with the high-pitched yips and yelps of coyotes zeroing in on what they planned to make their next meal. As the coyotes’ music grew louder, coming from the woods back of our house maybe 100 yards or so away, it grew more frantic and high-pitched than ever. Very quickly, the chase was over and another voice was added to the choir, momentarily at least.

That voice was a scream of terror and lasted just a matter of seconds. My wife asked what it could have been and I told her it was the dying screams of a rabbit, probably the snowshoe hare that had been hanging around for a few weeks.

The screaming and the yelping ended, and it was then the story went mostly silent. I imagined that the coyotes were either eating where the hare met its end or had carried it off somewhere else to dine at their leisure.

It was a sad story, but it was a story that is repeated millions of times each year, as one wild predator species makes good with a surprise attack sprung on a species of prey. It is a story of nature maintaining a balance that is good for prey and predator.

Not all such stories in the outdoor are told in such bold manner. Many of the stories are told in silence.

One such that I remember was an ongoing one I took in while grooming cross-country ski trails several years ago. That winter was unusual in that conditions for prey and predator in the far north regions of Canada drove a certain predator, the snowy owl, far more south than usual.

With little food to be found on their home grounds, some of those beautiful owls of the north migrated south into the northern counties of Wisconsin. The snowy that I saw three times over the course of a week that winter had taken an area of mature Norway pine for its territory.

I don’t know how many, if any, animals of prey it was successful in slaying during its stay in that area, but the story it told me each time as I spotted it from the groomer was one of pure beauty and grace, a silent sentinel keeping watch from its perch on a pine branch. It is a story I haven’t seen repeated since and may never again be privileged to read.

During another year, I got to read another story in the snow as I went for a ski through what was then a wide open valley, but is now grown up partially to scrub pine and oak saplings.

As I worked my way through the valley, I saw where the story unfolded. Wing marks remained of a predator bird which had pounced on a red squirrel. Little remained of the squirrel, save for a piece of its tail and a few small tufts of fur. The rest had been carried off to the bird’s dinner table. Though I had neither seen nor heard the story being told, it was written as plainly and surely in the snow as if I had been there to witness the exact moment.

This year, there have been several stories told along those same ski trails; stories that I have read while grooming or skiing.

One story has been plain as day. Wolf tracks, those of what look to me like they could have been made by a huge male and smaller female, have been using the trail for a highway. They have followed the same trails as those used by deer which are still active in the area.

If you are someone who shudders to think of a deer being killed by wolves, take heart in that I have yet to see any evidence of a kill. If you are someone who kind of roots for the wolf to be successful, it may well turn into that sort of story before winter ends. Either way, it is a story written in the snow for all who pass to see and make conjecture as they see fit.

I do know that on one occasion while I was out grooming, I met up with two men skiing, both of whom were fairly wide-eyed. As one of them said “We can’t believe all the wolf tracks out here. It’s absolutely amazing.”

It is good that not all stories of the wild are those of predator and prey meeting up, resulting in a sad ending for the animal of prey.

I have seen many other stories over the years of “wildlings” simply living their lives as they should be. Just a few days ago, I saw the tracks of a ruffed grouse walking down the ski trails for perhaps 50 yards or so; maybe searching for seeds or just out for a stroll.

Twice already this winter season I have had grouse burst out of their roosting place underneath deep powder snow practically from under my feet. Their story was one of using what nature provides for comfort and ease, not to mention some protection from predators during a long and snowy winter. A happy story, I might say.

There will be many more stories I will read and hear this winter, not on paper nor from human voice, but from chickadees perched on a sunflower feeder outside a picture window, a pileated woodpecker slamming his beak into a suet bag hung from a jack pine mere feet from a living room window or a noisy, tumbling brook trout creek rolling downstream between banks piled high with snow.

As much as the stories I read in books and those told by others like me who frequent the outdoors, these stories will entertain and fascinate me for all these winter months to come.