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Tracking

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This is a lost art (for the most part) that is a must for survival. Tom Brown Jr's book, "The Art and Science of Tracking" is a very informative book with alot of detail and suggestions. Some quick points made, build a sand box and walk thru it doing different things, i.e., turning your head, shifting an item you're carrying, etc, to see how the tracks change with the different movements. He suggested using a camcorder to video the walk so you could use it as a study guide. There are several other books out there as well.

Tracking is more than just knowing what type of animal made the track so you know what you're hunting or the target animal is for a trap. If the tracks are going in a direct path, chances are very high that the animal is heading TO water. This will also allow you to find water in a survival situation. If the tracks are meandering, then the animal is normally hunting for food or browsing. By studying the tracks, we can learn which pace the animal is moving, which can alert us to a threat if a predator is in the area. I may be carrying a 22lr to secure food but if I see sign that tells me a big predator (bear, mountain lion, wolf, etc) is in the area hunting, I know my sidearm must be in easy reach and I must be ready to transition quickly.

Tracking is more than just a footprint, it is a story when read correctly. The story told can add immense intelligence and better allow you to plan or adjust your plans to enhance your chances of survival.

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Awhile ago I had taken a free tracking course given by the Penna State Forestry service at a local state park. Very informative & strongly reccomend it. I retained alot of the info & am surprised to this day about what I'm able to tell just by observation while walking in the woods.

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Good deal Xplorer. There are several tracking clubs around the country also. Some are free to join, while others cost a yearly membership fee. They usually have experts come in for training sessions, some are also CERT teams for SAR operations, etc. These clubs can help you learn, practice the skill and find like minded people.

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I am glad i grew up playing in the woods. Learned to stay quite and still. Watched and learned a lot. Biggest pleasure i have now is to watch a Big buck and he never senses your around. Actually had my first close encounter will a bear several months ago. I noticed that i had not seen any wild life in several minutes. Then the birds went total quite. I knew something was headed my way. Mother nature is talking. Are you listening?

I plan to look into your recommendations on tracking. Thanks for the heads up Reg5.

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Good observation skills Awake. Like you said, Mother (Nature) is always telling us what we should know; all we must do is listen. Birds are great alarm/warning systems, so are insects but also remember that you can defeat these systems as well with pratice; like modern systems, nothing is 100% foolproof.

Personal experience:

While deployed to Iraq about 0030 hours, was returning to office from South end of FOB. I noticed that the small sparrow like birds that ground nest were flying up in a line coming towards our perimeter. Since the flights were basically a straight line, I was sure it was not feral cats or dogs causing the commotion. I called the S2 office (intel) and had them call security forces. Long story short, we stopped 12 trespassers sneaking through the sewage lagoon area which would have put them in our fuel depot.

Nature observation can be a life saving skill set that costs nothing but time and the willingness to learn. Animals can alert us to "stranger danger" (I have kids and that's a term being taught them...lol), pending weather, wildfires, and predators. In the pioneer days, men like Simon Kenton couldn't read or write but they could tell you it was going to rain 3 days before it happened (made up example). We must learn to read nature's book as well as we read these posts. IMHO

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Awake, you have a huge advantage by playing in the woods most of your life. I was a city kid and only learned about the woods and tracking when I met my wife. Dad-in-law taught me most of what I know about the woods, hunting and tracking. Now I love the woods. I also loved getting within touching distance of a deer before he even knows you’re there. Even if you don’t shoot, it makes you feel like a champ! I have been 18 feet away from a bear and he never saw me. Yes, I nearly filled my britches!

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Good topic here. It's funny if you pay attention how much you can learn from nature itself.

Through my hunting experiences rustling leaves are generally smaller game. They don't

break sticks or twigs when walking as will a larger animal(or human). Turkey and Grouse

when foraging will usually leave triangle looking mark pointed in the direction they travel.

Looks like someone has taken a rake to the ground and pulled the leaves back where they

scratch. Bear and Boar are different when looking for food also, the boar will root and push

old rotten logs around foraging, a bear will pull the log apart. Tracks from deer in the dirt have

reveled things to me also. A smooth hoof print in sand, mud, or dirt generally indicates a deer

that travels and feeds in soft surroundings, i.e. wooded areas, farmland. Find a track that has

chips taken out of it and usually the deer has been traveling in rocky areas. I'd employed this

knowledge on a deer hunt and was lucky enough to have taken one of my nicest 8 points ever

after analyzing the tracks and scrapes and determining his travel.

 

 

I to have had the priviledge of being young and growing up in the mountains and on several

rivers with some of the most knowledgable old curmudgeons you'd ever know existed. LOL

God love'em all. I was blessed to have them in my life then and educate me in the world of the great outdoors.

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Good deal desert. There are lots of small tell all signs in a track and learning the differences can put that nice trophy on the wall and roast in the oven.

Another thing that will help in stalking game is using a hiking staff. Deer and other animals seem to be able to tell the difference between a bipedal walk and something with more "limbs". If you carry a hiking staff with a knot or a screw in eye bolt (example only for mind picture), you can have a shooting rest if you are in the open.

 

Awake, growing up "playing" in the woods was a great experience. Patience is another essential commodity. I've waited for over 4 hours for a squirrel to come back out of his den (ok, it was a challenge when he beat me to his hidey hole). My buddy laughed but I got my squirrel. While sitting there, I had 4 deer walk so close I could have hit them with my rifle (1 fawn actually walked up to smell my moccasins). I will admit, it was hard not to have some "large ground squirrel" for the pot but it was still a month til season and a 22lr isn't legal for deer in Indiana (or anywhere else I know).

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JCMS, I agree. Mark A Baker (1 of my favorite authors; writes on buckskinning) wrote a column, which has transposed to a 2 volume set of books, called "A Pilgrim's Journey". He probably offered some of the best advice (altho I have seen it repeated or even spoken frst by others) that the title of the column was because we must always learn, as the "pilgrim" (newbie) does. This coming from a person who is classed an "expert" by not only people new to buckskinning but by his contemporaries. I also like that he has written about his own treks and not just wrote what they did right, but swallowed his pride and spoke of the mistakes or oversights he and his partners had.

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Excelent post..

I learned from my brother in Law a 4th generation WVA.

As a kid from Detroit staying quiet was a problem.

Orvin fixed that by sneeking up on me a couple of times deep in the woods..

Silence is GOLDEN..

Thanks Orvin!

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hi all

yes nice subject.i like tracking myself.bugs and birds,biggest tattletales in the woods.learn the bird talk, know prey or preditor before you see them.walk into the wind,not with it.walk with a walking stick,lets you get a lot closer.

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My great uncle always taught us to just set and listen to the woods and watch the animals........he believed that bring home food from the woods was just bonus of time spent in the outdoors. It has always amazed me what you can learn if you just look-listen-respect the outdoors. Learned animal track ID in Boy Scouts, tracking from Great Uncle.

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Anytime Capt. I find anything in my web searches that I feel may help anyONE on this site, I try to post it. I help in teaching my nephews, nieces and my kids but we are all separated from here so I hope I can give a starting point or even another reference option. I'm always looking for a different approach as it may help me find a new system to teach that can be grasped and retained better.

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Guest kevin

good post reg(as always). when setting a snare line reading tracks can mean the difference between rabbit or skunk for supper, that's pretty important. as far as stalking goes.......i suck.....quietly moving threw the woods requires a good deal of finesse ....something i have less than than you average rabid badger. but if you know you suck at skinning the cat one way there is always another......i get to the water hole early and wait.

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Kevin, At least you have conquered your "limitations" (I just see it as a skill you haven't mastered from your comment). You can learn to move thru the woods quietly. It's a matter of interpretation and focus and there are "exercises" to help with this skill. I'll bet you can move thru the woods like a church mouse, regardless of what you call finesse...lol.

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hi all

in dessert grazing animals,will graze when walking away from water,won't graze walking towards water. balence is importent to stalking and walking quiet,also the way you walk counts.watch animal shows,where prediter stalks prey.take a couple of steps , then stops a few seconds,repeats.

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Hey Reg5,

got to thinking last weekend. It had been a while since i had tracked any thing. I remembered that on the ridge off to the side of my BOl i had seen a game trail. So i shouldered my day pack aka my 72 hour BOB grabbed my .40 and my wrist rocket slingshot. Spent a good hour or so following the trail back into Gods country. Sat on a rock for 2 hours and counted 6 nice fat rabbits. The rains have been good for rabbit edibles. I carefully was able to load and aim the slingshot. I aimed it at a good 8 pounder. Then i remembered that i had no need and let the shot go. I waited till the rabbit wandered off and then i headed home. It felt really good to track and hunt. Thanks for motivating me.

Edited by awake

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Awake, I'm glad you found the time to enjoy what God Blessed us with. I find it peaceful to just watch. Maybe next time, you can "hunt" with a camera so you still get to capture your quarry and remember the skill you used to achieve success.

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Awake, I'm glad you found the time to enjoy what God Blessed us with. I find it peaceful to just watch. Maybe next time, you can "hunt" with a camera so you still get to capture your quarry and remember the skill you used to achieve success.

and no messy cleanup.....

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