Author Topic: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache  (Read 610 times)

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Offline woodsorrel

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Hi Everyone!

I've read some members on the forum asking for more of us to start threads.  OK, but remember, you asked for it... :)


If you live in the Bay Area, you can go on free nature hikes to learn to track animals.  I recommend animal tracking as a way to learn about the natural history of your area. 

And it's not hard to learn.  We all possess the innate skills, shaped by our ancestors' use over thousands of years.  But our modern day-to-day lives dull our senses and the skills lie dormant in each of us.

For example, this tree shows two animal signs.  I'm certain you can see them even if you don't know the animals that made them.




The story below recounts a recent tacking hike.  We find a dead bobcat, mysterious bones, an egg puzzle, and a Mountain Lion cache!




Here's a link to a detailed description of our hike. 

WARNING: Contains pictures of dead animals.

http://www.natureoutside.com/mountain-lion-cache/


What animal signs do you see most often on your hikes?  Do you have any pictures to share?  What animal signs do you think you would find in your area?

- Woodsorrel
The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
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Online madmax

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2017, 05:39:19 AM »
Here in Central FL I see a lot of footprints in the sand after a rain.  If it has been dry , not so much.  Bear, deer, hog, turkey, lizards, etc.  Hogs really tear up the forest and the "plowing" effect is very evident.  Armidillos leave a smaller different "root".  Deer rubs are pretty common.  Coyote, bear, bobcat scat is pretty easy to ID.  Gator slides on the banks of rivers and lakes are everywhere.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
Hunter S, Thompson

Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2017, 08:25:32 AM »
Here in Central FL I see a lot of footprints in the sand after a rain... Armidillos leave a smaller different "root"...

Very cool, madmax!  It's terrific you can see all that. 

I'm curious about the Armadillo sign.  I've seen signs of wild boar.  Does Armadillo rooting look like "plowed up" ground, just on a much smaller scale than boar?

  - Woodsorrel
The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
Bushcraft tips and tricks:  www.NatureOutside.c om

Online madmax

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2017, 09:03:25 AM »
They can get messy but they have a great sense of smell, so often they root a shallow hole digging for a worm or bug they have already located and ID'ed.  Kinda like a squirrel hole in the yard.  They also burrow nests that are bigger.  They don't see well so if you go investigate that bump in the night and you spook an armadillo they will all of the sudden recognize danger,  jump straight up in the air,  and book it into the palmettos.  It's hilarious after you get your heart back in your chest.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
Hunter S, Thompson

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2017, 11:44:12 AM »
In western South Dakota north of the Black Hills you will see the tracks of deer, antelope, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, fox, and all sorts of small animals like mink, skunks, raccoon, rabbits and so forth.  Turkey are abundant and in the right places you will see the track of Partridge and Grouse.  Of course you don't see all of these on one hike but you might see half of them if you look around.  Along the reservoir at our farm there are usually tracks from beaver, and Muskrats. 

I like to snowshoe in the winter and there are many tracks that are easy to see and in some cases follow for a long distance.  Some go under my barn which always bothers me.  Especially when it is skunks.
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2017, 12:08:23 PM »
I didn't get a newsletter but I did read that fully.

A few years ago, maybe on another forum, I posted a tree that had been whittled nearly in half at about 8feet off the ground. It seemed the popular opinion was a porcupine.

Yesterday I was on my daily walk with the dogs. I couldn't get a fire started with damp birch bark and was getting eaten alive by mosquito's faster than I was bale to process the tinder.

Ashamed of myself, I put permethrin on my pants but nothing for my head and neck. It hasn't been bad out there until this heat came.

Now on the way out I found this. I'm going to bet this was a porcupine and not a bear. The interesting thing is it might have been a bird, or a combination. If you look close you can see the holes behind the chipping area. Maybe the little spiked bear just found what he was looking for?





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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2017, 12:46:34 PM »
Could be a Pileated Woodpecker.
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Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2017, 01:15:33 PM »
... They don't see well so if you go investigate that bump in the night and you spook an armadillo they will all of the sudden recognize danger,  jump straight up in the air,  and book it into the palmettos.  It's hilarious after you get your heart back in your chest.

I might also need a change of underwear.  :)

- Woodsorrel
The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
Bushcraft tips and tricks:  www.NatureOutside.c om

Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2017, 01:22:13 PM »
In western South Dakota north of the Black Hills you will see the tracks of deer, antelope, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, fox, and all sorts of small animals like mink, skunks, raccoon, rabbits and so forth.  Turkey are abundant and in the right places you will see the track of Partridge and Grouse.  Of course you don't see all of these on one hike but you might see half of them if you look around.  Along the reservoir at our farm there are usually tracks from beaver, and Muskrats. 

I like to snowshoe in the winter and there are many tracks that are easy to see and in some cases follow for a long distance.  Some go under my barn which always bothers me.  Especially when it is skunks.

wsdstan, I'm jealous you get to see tracks from antelope, mink, and muskrat.  They have all been extirpated from my area of California.

When I lived in New York, I followed skunk tracks through the (suburban) brush until I arrived at a hole in the foundation of my family's home!  That was quite a shock.

- Woodsorrel
« Last Edit: May 29, 2017, 01:30:20 PM by woodsorrel »
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Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2017, 01:29:35 PM »
.. Now on the way out I found this. I'm going to bet this was a porcupine and not a bear. The interesting thing is it might have been a bird, or a combination. If you look close you can see the holes behind the chipping area. Maybe the little spiked bear just found what he was looking for?

Great pictures, xj35s!  Maybe someone on the forum will be able to recognize it from something they've seen.  I like your theory that the animal was after termites or other insects living in the stump.  Some of the chips on the ground look to be a pretty good size.

- Woodsorrel
The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
Bushcraft tips and tricks:  www.NatureOutside.c om

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2017, 03:14:23 PM »
In Texas, Armadillos are easy to track.  Just follow the trail of empty Lone Star Beer Cans.
I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
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Offline imnukensc

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 04:39:04 PM »
Thoroughly enjoyed the "rest of the story" in the blog, woodsorrel.

xj, I tend to agree with you about more than one critter tearing at the stump.  I certainly don't know what the combo my have been (no porcupines around here), but I think Stan is correct on the pileated woodpecker being one of them.  Heck, it may have been the only thing.  They're big woodpeckers (North America's largest) and I've seen them peck out some good sized hunks from dead trees.

Plenty of stuff to track around here, too, depending where ya are of course, but just in the back yard I've seen deer, turkey, raccoon, rabbit, opossum, squirrel, etc.
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Online madmax

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 05:16:48 PM »
Here's a few common.







"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
Hunter S, Thompson

Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2017, 05:42:04 PM »
Those are great pictures, madmax!  The tracks really stand out in the dusty substrate.  I really like how you captured the turkey tracks going into the distance.

Using your hand for scale is cool.  Did you see the bear?

- Woodsorrel

The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
Bushcraft tips and tricks:  www.NatureOutside.c om

Online madmax

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2017, 05:45:50 PM »
Not that time.  I've seen several out there.  Sometimes a little too close for comfort.  But I get a "Huff!'  And know to back up and go around.  LOL.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
Hunter S, Thompson

Offline woodsorrel

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2017, 05:50:43 PM »
Thoroughly enjoyed the "rest of the story" in the blog, woodsorrel.

xj, I tend to agree with you about more than one critter tearing at the stump.  I certainly don't know what the combo my have been (no porcupines around here), but I think Stan is correct on the pileated woodpecker being one of them.  Heck, it may have been the only thing.  They're big woodpeckers (North America's largest) and I've seen them peck out some good sized hunks from dead trees.

Plenty of stuff to track around here, too, depending where ya are of course, but just in the back yard I've seen deer, turkey, raccoon, rabbit, opossum, squirrel, etc.

Thanks, imnukensc

We've just begun to see Pileateds in my area regularly.  With temperatures warming in recent years, we see them more often than anyone can remember.  If a Pileated can do this to a stump, then I'll need to keep my eye out for it.

- Woodsorrel
The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
Bushcraft tips and tricks:  www.NatureOutside.c om

Online wolfy

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2017, 06:03:19 PM »
Those big woodpeckers can REALLY whack up a tree in a hurry.  We don't have then here, but I got to see one sending the chips flying up in the BWCAW one time.....I was amazed! :shocked:
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Trackers' Day Out: Three Puzzles and a Mountain Lion Cache
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2017, 02:21:26 AM »
Madmax, we had a bear that size come thru. Nobody saw it but the tracks went across the neighbors horse pasture. They were very nervous about it. I told them he's just passing through. no worries.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.