Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tracking: Watching Animals Without Seeing Them

The skill of professionally tracking animals is not mine, but for some reason I think there is a natural instinct there, a knee jerk thought process that feeds you information about the life around you. Including life unseen or not easily noticed. When I am walking in the woods I tend to look at the ground alot, and only look up occasionally to get the bigger view - that's how I started noticing tracks in the wet mud. I am not hunting the animals, but I love animals so much I can't help but get excited knowing they have this secret life going that I don't always see.
This first pic is a track from a deer. Since I don't have a guide book on animal prints (yet) I learned by the slow process of following the tracks for a few weeks before actually seeing the deer about 20 feet away. The tracks pictured here are alot smaller then the deer I saw before and are in a new area - maybe some little bambies?!
Next I saw this infamous bump pictured below, I am pretty sure it's the digging job of a ground hog, which makes the mud hill up and crumble in a tunneled way. A ground hog that ate most of my red bean crops last night. :(
All throughout the woods are little circular holes where some animal is busy digging up goodies to eat - could be a raccoon, opossum or ground hog (all of which live here). There are also areas nearby where the wild turkey's scratch holes too. I am pretty sure I'd have to be out there hiding at night with a flashlight to find out who it is. Next is where I saw a mystery animal which I think was a small bobcat. It spotted me long before I spotted it and when it heard me walk too closely it hauled up the hill behind those trees. I first assumed it was another dumpy ground hog until it turned back to look at me and the sun shone directly on a very large cat shaped face... we stayed locked in a stare and without making a noise, without my eye leaving the tree, this creature snuck out of my sight like it had vanished. Pretty awesome and not very ground hog like. In this exact area I had seen what looked like a bobcat print in the mud about 2 months ago.
After the bobcat mystery sighting I was all hyped up to everything moving around me and spotted a little chipmunk tail swooshing in between the giant rocks, where the pink arrow is pointing below. Good hiding spot. The more shelter you have, the more animals you have.
This last animal track is my most favorite because it was made last night in the wet creek bed where the rain water usually runs and then stops just long enough to make this goopy junk perfect for animal prints. Look at those freaking CLAWS! My first instinct is that it's a raccoon, what do you think?


Susie Collins said...

If somebody ate my crop like that I'd skip the red beans and just eat the ground hog!

Leslie @ the oko box said...

I woke up thinking about putting out a trap. I have had ground hogs eat just my beans before and in the same patterned way. A neighbor suggested it may also be a bunny- which if I was to trap it and eat it, I hope he's right and not me! lol