Stubborn Turtles and Curious Bears! (Plus Some Other Stuff)

Hey guys! I hope y’all haven’t gotten too impatient with me, but *bear* with me, cause I’ve finished! This is gonna be a great post so let’s get going!
First off, can you find the track in the picture? If so, then let’s see if you can recognize what track this is. This is an intermediate level track to identify. There is a poll below so I will let you vote on what you think it is, then in a day or two I will reveal the answer.

Tracks

Now let’s get to the featured animal since we’re in the mood to reveal some mysteries! I had a poll with many animals that could’ve been featured in this post. But only one made it. The story begins at Vogel State Park in Dahlonega, Georgia. I was camping with my brother and my dad, but I was playing UNO! at another campsite when this incident happened :D.

It was our first night up in the mountains camping and my dad was hanging out by the campfire with some friends. At about 10:30 at night only 50 feet from the campfire, my dad heard a noise. It was the noise of something extremely large, but not human. It stirred up the leaves and the campfire suddenly flared up, casting shadows upon the trees and slowly revealing the large being. Immediately picking up the flashlight, my dad shined it upon the giant beast to reveal a mother black bear and 2 of her cubs! Looking at my dad and his friends, the bear pondered what these people were doing up in the high clutches of the mountain. It then gave a grin and continued traversing through the landscape. I was not there to take a picture, but I figured that I could at least share the story :). Either way, here’s a picture of a black bear, all credit to http://bchuntingblog.com/  for the picture:

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A Black bear.

While I was exploring in my woods one day I was headed back home and decided to take a detour through the (not so) Dead Marshes. As I kindly tramped along through the meadow grass untroubled by the time and bugs, I came across a turtle shell. The first thought that came to my mind was: “OOH, A TURTLE SHELL!!! Maybe there will be a turtle, or maybe if there isn’t one I can take the shell home and make it into a pouch!” So I went to take a peek, excited like a little boy on Christmas morning, and discovered a turtle inside. Quickly looking at the head before the turtle tried to run away from me, I realized it was an Eastern box turtle.

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An Eastern box turtle. Notice the interesting shell pattern; no two patterns are the same.

After I snapped that picture, it immediately began bounding away eager to get back to its nap. Slowly realizing this could possibly be a nesting ground, I stopped the unaware tramping I had been doing and began taking each step slowly and carefully. Funny enough, I only had to take two steps to find a baby turtle. I do only have 3 free gigabytes of media uploading memory so I will not post a picture of that one, besides the fact that I couldn’t get a good one, but know that it was only about half the size of the one above. However, instead of letting me pick it up and get a good picture, the baby was stubborn and went 2x the speed of the one above and began to dig a small burrow under the grass to hide under.

As I was exploring the area I call the Desert (pretty much nothing but dry dirt, dust, some sand, more dust and dead, black trees) I found a really cool dragonfly!

A twelve-spotted skimmer.

A female twelve-spotted skimmer.

After doing some research, I have concluded that this is a female twelve-spotted skimmer. I found it resting on a wildflower and just couldn’t help not taking a picture! This is a really cool bug and if you get the chance to observe one in the wild, I would by all means spend a few minutes watching it.

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is watch birds! They are fascinating creatures, always extremely quick and alert, never hesitant to fly away at a moment’s notice. One of my favorite birds are the Carolina chickadee. They are one of the bravest of birds, flying in the harshest of rains and always looking for someone to play with or something to do. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen very many lately, so I decided to get a cardinal instead.

A female red cardinal. Ironically, the female red cardinal is actually brown with an orange beak.

A female red cardinal. Ironically, the female red cardinal is actually brown with an orange beak.

Finally, to close the post, I have one more track for y’all to figure out! This is also an intermediate level track to distinguish if you know what to look for. If you guys have been paying attention to some of the tracking tips I have been giving you guys, then you should probably be able to solve this. It shouldn’t be too hard. Here’s a tip: DON’T ponder over the obvious. Figure out what you think the track in the top could be and then move on. Look at what isn’t there (and should or could be there), and figure out what you can from what you know or assume. Be a detective. Also, this track is probably only about 3 weeks old. Just FYI.

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A deer or a human boot. That leaves a very narrow margin for error. Two choices. One answer. Let’s see if your tracking knowledge has grown 🙂

Thanks guys, and I hope y’all are enjoying this! I think this is a new and exciting post, so I really hope you guys think so too! Be prepared for the answers to both polls in a day or two.

Keep calm and track on!

P. S. By the way, did you notice the faint shoeprint from four weeks ago in the bottom right hand corner of the picture? I did that 🙂

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Tracking + Lot’s of Photos #2

What’s up everyone? I know some of you would like to see some more tracks, so I’ve got em. I won’t be posting tomorrow or Thursday, but I will hopefully post Saturday. Figured I could get one more post in before the weekend. So here is the unexpected second part of “Tracking”

Tracking is a lot more than just finding tracks and following them. It’s finding tracks, looking for all you can to know what the animal’s purpose is for traveling there, following the tracks, and learning more about the animal and it’s habits. To find the animal you need to know it’s purpose for traveling. But if you want to find an animal with it’s feet still in the tracks, it takes more than just tracking.

You may see a deer from time to time driving on the road or a trail, but have you ever seen one from only 15 feet away? In that 15 foot distance, you can see the shiny, fine coat of hair that the deer has, you can see it’s piercing eyes, and just about every other detail you could want. I can only speak from experience, not from what I’ve heard, about these topics. I’ve had that experience, and that is why I can say that you can see the tiny speck of dirt on that deer’s shoulder.

If you want to do this, it requires an even greater level of commitment than what tracking does. Tracking is tough.

Trailing, now that is even harder.

While tracking involves following tracks, old or new, for a limited amount of time, trailing involves a couple hours of searching for a fresh track, typically no more than 12 hours old, and following it for anywhere from 30 mins to 8 hours until you see the animal standing there. This also involves, if possible, stalking up on the animal unnoticed and watching it and learning about it for as long as possible, and even touching it once you’ve watched it for awhile. This requires far more than just the skill of tracking. You also need to know how to stalk, walk without making a sound, and keep the animal from noticing your scent, while being camouflouged.

I will not talk about trailing much, as enough is already said, and I have not practiced trailing yet. I, at the moment, only do tracking. Now knowing about trailing, you might have you some reason to learn these skills. If you have practiced them for awhile, you will eventually be able to touch a deer. My uncle is the one who got me into being a naturalist, and he has touched a living deer before. He said it was an experience like no other, but then again, he has been practicing this stuff for over 8 years and he is a skilled tracker.

Now that I’ve raised your awareness about trailing and tracking, I can begin the post knowing you will want to read it 🙂 So here we go!

The tracks of a

I do not have a clue what track this is. There’s not enough of it, but it looks like a burrower, ground hog or mole maybe?

This is a track of

This is a track of umm, I am not sure. Any ideas anyone? 😛

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A coyote track.

A track.

After looking it up in my field guide, I have come to the conclusion that this is probably a fox squirrel. SO TINY!!

A nice big jumbled up mess of opossum tracks.

A nice big, jumbled up mess of raccoon tracks.

So that’s my follow up to my previous post. Hope y’all liked it! From here on out, I will not be posting as frequently due to time schedules, so expect a 3+ day wait before my next post. If you guys would rather not check my site every day manually, you can always follow this blog and recieve an email every time I post. Remember that I am always open to questions, so don’t be scared to comment. As a preview of my next post, I will be posting about primitive shelters and, hopefully, show you guys just how effective they are. Like always,

Keep calm and keep tracking!