Trailing Mysteries

Describe the most puzzling blood trail you've ever been on.
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Capn Hook
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby Capn Hook » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:15 pm

I would like to work on my tracking skills. I'm much better than I used to be, but I know there is much to learn that can't easily be discovered through trial and error. Any good resources you would suggest to look at? More specifically, what would you look for when tracking through a cutover filled with chest-high grasses and briars? Tracking through the forest floor is one thing, but when you can't see more than a few feet ahead it gets complicated.

Thanks in advance.

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kellory
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby kellory » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:37 pm

That's an easy one, transfer.everything he brushed against, shows his passage. Look at high grass when someone walks through it, the grasses will show something pushed through this way. Corn or brush will show blood wiped on them, as the deer passes. Look for leaves that are wet on the wrong side up, turned over by the deer's toes dragging. Hair on brambles, and burrs, and tracks of course. Scat, will show it's age, steam from warm piss.
It also helps to think like a deer, "why did I go this way? What do I need?" Wounded deer often head for water, and may double back to loose pursuit. I have tracked deer through corn, that left a trail like s star of David! Crossing, and backtracking. It also helps to have more than one tracker. One concentrating on blood or tracks, another on transfer or searching with binos ahead, in case it gets kicked up. Multiple methods at the same time. With practice you will be able to see more of the whole trail, but most people can't seem to see more than the one item they are looking for, so each should focus on something different.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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kellory
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby kellory » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:46 pm

There is a forum just on blood trailing, near the bottom of the maim forum page. You may find tips there as well.
(Teaser question) how can a climbing stand or climbing sticks help you track a deer?;)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Capn Hook
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby Capn Hook » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:59 pm

The climbing stand question: I'm thinking that getting up high might help you see the lay of the land, i.e. water sources, thickets, bottlenecks and saddles, etc., and should help to devise a likely path that an animal would take. You might also catch a glimpse of the animal itself if it's injured or dead. (I was trailing a deer last year and had to resort to following the trail by leaf disturbance rather than blood since the blood trail seemed to dry up, and spotted what I thought was a red shirt on a log far below me near a creek. It turns out that it was a puddle of blood the size of a pie plate where the deer had apparently fallen. He was a few yards away in the creek covered with leaves.)
I doubt that it would make it easier to see well traveled trails, since I find these much easier to identify from ground level, but like I said, I have a lot to learn.

Thanks again for the advice. Do you have any favorite books on the subject?

Here is what I have been able to find so far:

Instructors:
Craig Caudill is the Chief Instructor at Nature Reliance School and the in-house Survival Instructor for Dan’s Depot. Richard Cleveland of Earth School, Tom Laskowski of The Mid-West Native Skills Institute, Rob Speiden of Nature Awareness Tracking School, and Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School and co-host of Dual Survival on the Discovery Channel, and Jon Moore of Primitivarts.org. And of course Tom Brown and Tom Brown, Jr. (if you haven't heard of these guys you should look them up, but I'm sure you've already heard of them).

Books:
The SAS Guide to Tracking by Bob Carss
The Complete Guide to Tracking by Bob Carss
Tom Brown's Science and Art of Tracking
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
The Tracker: Tom Brown
The Way of the Scout by Tom Brown
Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign Paperback by Paul Rezendes
Entering the Mind of the Tracker: Native Practices for Developing Intuitive Consciousness and Discovering Hidden Nature, Tamarack Song
Tracks and Trailcraft: A Fully Illustrated Guide to the Identification of Animal Tracks in Forest and Field, Barnyard and Backyard by Ellsworth Jaeger
Mammal Tracks & Sign by Mark Elbroch
Animal Tracking Basics by Tiffany Morgan and Jon Young
Animal Tracks and Hunter Signs by Ernest Thompson Seton

“Tracking: Mastering the Basics” DVD, James Halfpenny

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kellory
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby kellory » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:29 pm

I'm afraid I have no books for you to read. I learned all I know by boots on the ground, and learning from other hunters (mostly family). I have an uncle, who is color blind and CAN'T SEE THE BLOOD TRAIL at all. From him I learned much about tracking by prints. From my Father, I learned to anticipate what that deer was seeking, why he went that route.
Understand that that deer is limited by physics, as well. He can not fly, so he must walk, and he can not avoid leaving traces, anymore than you or I. If he jumps a fence or log, his prints will be deeper, from the thrust. and the landing. If he crawls under or through a fence, he will be leaving hair, and drag marks. he can't help it.

You got the climber question mostly right. but partly wrong. Some deer will fall in high grass, or brush, and you simply can't see them at ground level. some will even burrow in, and try to hide. many will change directions, several times, passage through high grass moves the stems, and shows a path, and all of these things are much clearer from the air, trails ARE easier to see in overview, and faint trails will show as lines on a map from further away. Next time you are is a stand, study the forest floor, and pick out all the wandering lines. Think about where those lines go, and why those lines are where they are. was it easier? concealment? between what points? what time of day or night where tracks made on that path? are they minutes, hours, or days old? more weight means bigger, or deeper prints, how wet is the soil? when did it rain last? ground frozen, or dry? These things will tell you roughly when your deer was here. I have never been able to afford game cameras, so this is how I figure out what is here, and when.

Other things I have picked up here, from many good hunters. if you find the deer's bedding ground, deer usually pee, as soon as they get up. girls closer to their rear feet, boys further forward (physics again and plumbing). Scat will show you what he/she has been eating.
I have no books for you. What I have for you, is a forum, of some very good hunters, who spend a great deal of time, helping other hunter learn. mentoring, and teaching new and young hunters. Hunters from all across this country, and several more. a few from around the world. There are nose bleed cowboys here, and ghosts in ghilli-suits, blind hunters, and long distance snipers and deer assassins who can stalk to within a few feet of their quarry. some who spend their lives around food plots for year round feeding and management, and those who only gun hunt on public land. Most of them, I would call friends, and many, good friends.
We are more than 13,000 strong, and willing to teach. What are you willing to learn? ;)
Last edited by kellory on Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Capn Hook
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby Capn Hook » Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:21 pm

Thanks Kellory! I've had to learn most of what I know from books and hunting shows on TV. My Dad took me hunting regularly when I was a kid, but only small game hunting. I learned everything I know about deer hunting from research and talking with friends, not to mention countless hours in the woods. I'll have to follow one or two of the forums you spoke of. It's just hard for me to find the time to read and respond, since I've got a demanding job and a family at home, but I'll work towards learning more in the off-season from guys like you. What I was getting at about seeing trails from the air was based on this: someone taught me when I was a kid to get down at eye level with the ground to better see trails through the leaves, since the here-and-there evidence is compounded when you decrease the angle, like looking down an arrow shaft to check the straightness. I suppose this works better in some situations, but not all. Just wanted to share that in case you've never tried it.

Here's one nagging question that I could use some insight on. I hunt mostly in urban areas where deer are concentrated on relatively small tracts of land, and most of the more commonly used trails are used by several deer and other animals every day. It's hard to determine which tracks are 1 hour old and which are 4 hours old. What I do know is that I can tell most of that by looking at the track deterioration, like soil moisture, the sharpness of ridges and smoothness of impressions, and the depressed vegetation. I'm starting to think that most of my problem may be patience. I need to find the correct trail and stay on it, rather than getting distracted by other tracks or trying to look too far ahead. I also need to start making good use of a simple tracking stick.

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kellory
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby kellory » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:08 pm

Capn Hook wrote:Thanks Kellory! I've had to learn most of what I know from books and hunting shows on TV. My Dad took me hunting regularly when I was a kid, but only small game hunting. I learned everything I know about deer hunting from research and talking with friends, not to mention countless hours in the woods. I'll have to follow one or two of the forums you spoke of. It's just hard for me to find the time to read and respond, since I've got a demanding job and a family at home, but I'll work towards learning more in the off-season from guys like you. We all have lives outside the woods. I don't get to spend the time I want to anymore myself, but I try to pass on what I learn, That is a large part of why we are here. What I was getting at about seeing trails from the air was based on this: someone taught me when I was a kid to get down at eye level with the ground to better see trails through the leaves, since the here-and-there evidence is compounded when you decrease the angle,This is true of track by print or trace amount of blood, but not if you are trying to see a larger trend. (Have you ever seen those pictures made of very tiny pictures? You start out small, and slowly zoom out until each and every picture is just a pixel of a much larger picture? ) like looking down an arrow shaft to check the straightness. I suppose this works better in some situations, but not all. Just wanted to share that in case you've never tried it.

Here's one nagging question that I could use some insight on. I hunt mostly in urban areas where deer are concentrated on relatively small tracts of land, and most of the more commonly used trails are used by several deer and other animals every day. It's hard to determine which tracks are 1 hour old and which are 4 hours old. What I do know is that I can tell most of that by looking at the track deterioration, like soil moisture, the sharpness of ridges and smoothness of impressions, and the depressed vegetation.Sounds like you already know most of that answer. Now add in weather, and time of day you are tracking, as well as what you know of deer behavior I'm starting to think that most of my problem may be patience. I need to find the correct trail and stay on it, rather than getting distracted by other tracks or trying to look too far ahead. Depends upon your reason for tracking. Are you tracking ONE deer, or the activity of an area? In areas where there are more deer using the same trails, watch for overlapping tracks, that too can give an idea of timing who was there first/last. I also need to start making good use of a simple tracking stickNot sure what you call a "tracking stick" but if you lose the trail, it often helps to plant a well marked pole, or a bright marker on a tree at the last trace or two, and circle out from that point. you don't lose your existing trail, and may find your deer has doubled back, or taken off at right angles to the existing trail. if it is an afternoon or evening tracking, I will hang a white break and shake chem light on that pole or marker, to make sure it stays marked. If I must continue in daylight, it will still be there, even if it is now dead..

A portion of tracking is in your head alone. The understanding that the traces must be there, and putting those traces together as a whole thing. that suggests a path. A path that fits with what a deer is likely to do, and his existing choices.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Capn Hook
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby Capn Hook » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:06 pm

Kellory,
A tracking stick is simply a pace measuring stick, broken to the length of the stride of the animal when you find two clear tracks in a row. Then it can be placed at the last conspicuous track as a guide for looking for the next track. pivoting it on that last track can help you see if there was a change in direction. It seems overly simple, but has helped me find tracks in the past that I otherwise would have probably missed.

-Robbie

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kellory
 
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Re: Trailing Mysteries

Postby kellory » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:43 pm

Now see, you just taught me something I didn't know. that's another reason why we're here. welcome to the forum.;)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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