We are going to start attempting to do a monthly post here. I cannot guarantee that we won’t miss a month from time to time, but we are going to try.
I want to start this off with a subject that is very near and dear to me.
I have spent countless hundreds of hours studying, practicing, and learning tracking just to reach the level of novice. People ask me why? Why learn tracking? Why spend the money? Why waste the time? Can’t you just follow a blood trail?
Tracking is about way more than finding an injured animals or hunting. In fact, I don’t do much tracking at all when I’m hunting. I’ll use track and sign when I am scouting. I look for sign of deer feeding, or bedding when I scout for a hunting spot, I use Deer scrapes as places to locate potential blind spots. But, I do not trail deer with the intention of hunting them, it’s just not a very efficient way to hunt. I have trailed a few deer that were injured, and need to be found, but not very many.
Tracking is more about a connection. A connection to nature, to wildlife, and to human nature. Human nature is all about curiosity. We want to know how things work, where things come from, what things are called, and they do. I think that many if not most people also have a inkling, or a feeling that nature is where we are meant to be. We have become quite far removed from our natural environment, and we are losing out on some of our inborn abilities, and instincts because of it. Tracking brings us back to all of this.
When you start learning tracking you want to know which track belongs to which animal and how to tell them apart. (This Desire never goes away) As you progress, you begin to learn more about what animals you share the landscape with. A very common method in track identification is to list all possible species, and begin to eliminate the ones that don’t fit. You will also begin to learn the feeding and sleeping habits of different species. You can’t find animals if you don’t know what they eat or where they sleep as this is how wild animals spend most of their time. You will begin to learn to identify bones and skulls to species and body part. This gives you a deeper understanding of who is eating who, and how the landscape of wildlife hierarchy works.
The pursuit of the knowledge, science, and art of tracking can lead you to nearly infinite lanes, or courses of study. Do you want to focus on one species or many? Do you want to learn to identify tracks and signs with perfection, or do you want to learn to follow animals? Do you prefer mammals, Birds, or Amphibians? Are interested in breeding habits, or how certain wildlife effects the landscape? Or, are you really interested in how human actions are effecting wildlife? These are all questions that can be explored through tracking.
2 things to remember:
1: You will never identify every track. Mysteries are good they help us learn.
2: Every single trail, all of them end with an animal standing in it.