Merry Christmas!! And now, welcome to my special Christmas edition update on Track Much? !
So, now that I’m on Christmas break, if you guys saw on my Facebook page, I was going to be doing sneak peeks; obviously, that only happened once (lol…). If you would like to follow with some more of my small time thoughts and what not, please take a second and follow my Facebook page. The one sneak peek I gave was that there was going to be some new, fresh, intense, and needed tracking. And here it is 🙂
I did kinda put these ones in plain sight, just as an example so you guys get what leaf tracking is. Leaf debris tracking is a whole step up from sand and dirt tracking. Most tracks in this substrate aren’t like this and take some good splatter vision and dirt time to find. Pretty lucky I found some easy ones to show you guys, because anything harder than this, is quite hard to show through a lens. Although I can track on leaf debris, it does challenge my skill sometimes, unlike sand, garden soil, mud, and dirt. Sometimes it’s quite easy to find the tracks, but you lose them after three feet and will spend 10 minutes only to find 2 or 3 more tracks. If any of you guys had a hard time finding these or seeing them, don’t feel bad!
If any of you have been practicing this stuff and have wanted to learn how to do this, here’s some tips. First and foremost, put in the research and dirt time. Dirt time is, basically, any time you spend in the dirt tracking 🙂 . You can’t read about tracking,put in no dirt time, and expect to be a master tracker overnight. It happens over dozens and hundreds of hours putting in the work. However, in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it!
Second and lastly, keep a journal. I recently started doing this, and it’s been very helpful! Any track you come across, journal the substrate type, track, what animal you think it is (after looking it up in field guides), and some general notes and impressions you get. However, be sure you start every log with the date, time of day, and weather!
So, here’s a crazy story. Me and my naturalist uncle went out to do some night tracking with the nearly full moon to our advantage. We slipped on some jackets, slid our shoes off our feet, put our phones and all modern equipment on the shelf, and left the house.
First, he had me walk over some small mounds in the soft, easily compactable dirt. Now, I did not know of any creature that would do this, so when he asked me what creature made it, I was like, oh crap * brain explodes*.
I didn’t have a clue, but my gut told me it was probably a vole or a field mouse. However, field mice don’t burrow like how these raised bumps were, so it had to be a vole.
“Is it vole mounds?”
“Haha, yeah, correct! Good job!”
We moved on through the forest.
As we walked down trails, I was fascinated by how easily animal trails were found. It was like I could almost just feel where the trail was, and then I would look, and my eyes would fill the picture in, and voila! There was a rabbit trail!
As I’m thinking about this and how gut feeling works and what not, my uncle suddenly stops.
“What tree is this?”
“Ummm….” *brain explodes a second time*
To begin with, my uncle knows I don’t know beans about trees and that I’m just now beginning to seriously start studying plants and trees. Second off, it’s dark with tree cover, so dark that you can’t read and any detail is lost without you feeling it. Third off, there are thousands of trees that it could be.
“Here, come over here and feel this, Evan.”
So I walk over, completely expecting to get it wrong, although giving the tree my complete attention and awareness, and feeling everything I can to come up with the best guess possible. As I feel it, my logical mind knows it’s not a hardwood, but rather a softwood. However, I know it’s a tree that isn’t in my woods and one of which I have no experience with. About to give up, I try and see what my gut says, as a last, noble attempt to get as close as possible to the real thing.
Lately, I have been learning a little bit about what natives would call, “inner sense”, also known to modern civilization as what most people call “gut feeling.” Everyone knows this feeling, you know you’re being watched, only to turn around and see someone staring at you, only to quickly look away. You may think of this as some imaginary figment of your imagination, but I think it’s a real thing that God intended us to use. After all, if it proves itself time and time again, as it does in this story, there’s no way it can just be coincidence.
Even the natives acknowledged it as something real. When people would ask an elder how he knew a plant was edible, the native would reply with, “I don’t really know exactly, the plant just told me in my gut how to prepare it and what sicknesses it would heal.” There’s no way that can be coincidence, for there are thousands of plants, dozens of look-alikes, and some plants, if not prepared exactly right, will make you come down with deathly sickness! How could the Native Americans have survived this??
Back to my story. I didn’t have a remote clue as to what in the world this tree could’ve been! My logical mind had given up and I was about to say it’s a birch or something, dismissing the fact that birch is nothing like this tree. However, in a last, noble attempt, I consulted my gut.
“Is it, uh, maybe a juniper tree?”
That was exactly what the tree was.
After receiving a very hearty congratulations, we decided to head back for his house, knowing I would be leaving soon! Turns out, it was perfect timing, for when we got back, we were only 6 minutes late of when we were supposed to come back. Another instance of inner sense proving it works.
Lastly, I said something about a special piece of art that would be featured on here. Well, I’ve finished it, and it is now ready for the world. Here it is 🙂
It’s a tad bit beat up, coming back from being graded at school, but this is a picture of an owl I drew, and our assignment was to make an Impressionistic style watercolor. So yup, there it is!
So, there’s my super fresh Christmas post! If you liked this, please consider dropping the post a like, comment, or share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whatever social media you use! Feel free to explore around here and read the other posts uploaded here, and please consider subscribing! Every subscriber helps remind me how important it is to publish frequently, and it helps push my drive to show you guys the world. And lastly, I would like to wish everyone a warm, Merry Christmas!
By the way, if you thought leaf debris tracking was hard, try tracking over solid rock 😉
Keep calm and track on!