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.


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  for the picture:

Black bear, blog

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.

turtle, blog

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.


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 🙂


Tracking + Lot’s of Photos!

Hey guys and girls! Today’s post is about tracking wildlife, such as deer, coyote, dog, or rabbit. First off, let me tell you something while we’re on a clean slate. Tracking is very fun and exhilirating!! Think about knowing what an animal likes to eat, where it lives, and it’s daily habits. You could know him like a brother or sister. Let me also tell you, tracking is hard work!! It does not come easy, and as another naturalist has told me “It takes 1-4 years of tracking every day before it will come extremely easy.” And as I have learned, as you track more, the only way you can keep learning and getting better is by pushing your limits. You go from tracking in mud or sand, to dirt or dry ground. While tracking on harder surfaces you will also be learning and memorizing habits of animals you track, such as where they like to sleep, what they eat, if they travel on open ground, if they stick to trails, if they skirt along the edges of brush, and lots of other stuff. You will also be learning more about animals you don’t know much about, such as minks, opossums, mice (yes, you can even track mice!), and lots of other animals.

Before you rule out tracking as some useless, dumb, boring, impossible, crazy person thing :), read this post. I will do my best to show you what tracking is like and just how fun it is! If ANYBODY wants to learn more about tracking or something I didn’t mention, just comment. I will respond.

Now, on to the trail!

One of the things to do while tracking is to imagine the animal right in front of you standing in the tracks. It may sound stupid and crazy, but if you can do that, it will help you so much in the long term! If you’re wondering why a branch is clipped off a tree and there’s a deer track beneath it, then think like the animal. I’m standing here in the middle my trail and I’m hungry. Hmm, there’s some dandelions and wild onions or, OOH!!!! TWIGS!!! Yes, deer love to chew on twigs. It’s a main food source, especially in the winter. Now you know several things about this animal! You know this is a deer trail and that deer chew on this type of tree (go identify the tree later). This could also mean that nearby this trail is a bedding spot, that there could be a source of water somewhere nearby, and that there is adequate food here. Just with finding a deer print, a trail, and a chewed twig, you already you know a lot about the deer’s life. That deer is no longer this mystical, mysterious, invisible being in the woods.

One of the most helpful things for tracking are field guides. Field guides give you insight and decades of research, all in the palm of your hand. My personal favorite, Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species, by Mark Elbroch, is definitely the one I recommend you getting if you live in North America.

Several whitetail deer tracks I found in some mud by the creek.

Several whitetail deer tracks I found in some mud by the creek.

Here's two deer tracks. If you notice, the hind(back) foot stepped on the front track. This is called a direct register.

Here’s two whitetail deer tracks. If you notice, the hind(back) foot stepped on the front track. This is called a direct register. Sorry for the blur.

Deer are plentiful in many parts of North America, and if you can find a creek or stream, four-wheeler trails, or anywhere that has some mud, you are almost sure to see deer tracks. In the process of finding these locations and searching them, you will probably find other tracks.

A track in extremely soft dirt. I believe this is coyote or Gray Fox, but I'm leaning toward Gray Fox by the size of the track.

A track in extremely soft dirt. I believe this is coyote or Gray Fox, but I’m leaning toward Gray Fox by the size of the track. Should’ve remembered to bring something to scale.

I believe these are Eastern Cottontail tracks in mud. They're pretty small though. I couldn't clearly find the last track to show y'all, but the rabbit tends to make a y shape when hopping.

I believe these are Eastern Cottontail tracks in mud. They’re pretty small though. Look for the funny shaped trianglular shapes in the mud. I couldn’t find the last track to clearly show you guys, but the rabbit tends to make a y shape when hopping.

And for the final picture, tracks in mud.

And for the final picture (again, sorry for the blur). I can’t tell for sure because I haven’t dealt with tracks like these that much, but I believe this is either raccoon, striped, or hooded skunk. The top left one is the front track, bottom right is the hind track. This looks more like raccoon but it is still a possibility of being a skunk track.

So as you can see, tracking can be quite interesting! Please don’t judge or disregard tracking because I couldn’t positively identify these tracks. I am pretty new at this too, and from November to January hardly ever had time to track. So I have only been tracking, realisticly, about 3 months. As I keep tracking, I will be able to provide better results, but like I’ve said before, this is a time-consuming and demanding practice.

I hope you guys and girls like the post, and I hope this alone encourages y’all to go into the woods more.

For my next post, I will continue on tracking. I still have many pictures taken of good quality tracks that are clearly recognizeable. I will also tell a little more about tracking that I didn’t say today. And finally, to close, all I have to say is…

Keep calm and track on!