Monday, May 17, 2021

Looking for fellow trackers

tracksFrom an Almanack reader, looking to connect with animal tracking enthusiasts:

“Do you know where to find people who are involved in the science and “hobby”Or practice of animal tracking? Some trackers are hunters, but most are not.

I am a person who has always enjoyed looking at tracks and sign for the story they tell, but in the past 3 years I have dug deeper into the techniques of positive ID and deeper knowledge through some amazing books, and going on tracking walks with experts. I have the 120 year old family farmhouse in Indian Lake and find unlimited places for remarkable tracking walks.”

Leave a comment below to connect!

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.


3 Responses

  1. Joseph M. Dash says:

    Hi Melissa, I am definitely interested in meeting up with fellow trackers. I’ve done some backyard tracking to learn how to date tracks and tell the sex of the animal. I’d welcome joining others on this quest.

    • James Valastro says:

      Hi Joseph- Nice to read your reply here. Maybe sometime this summer we could find people interested in slowly wandering the banks of the Cedar River near Indian Lake NY to see what animals are active and ponder their trails and activities. This weekend i will be attending my first Track/Sign Evaluation weekend in Southern Vermont, not with any hopes of passing the test, but rather to understand what is on the test of accurately reading the New England forest floor. About a month ago I attended the North American Trackers Conference (all on-line of course), and it was remarkable. All levels of trackers gathering to share and communicate from around the world.

      Kind regards

      James Valastro
      ADK and Northern Vermont

  2. Joseph M. Dash says:

    Hi James, the greatest tracker in the world, bar none, is Tom Brown, Jr. Tom learned everything from an Apache Native American who could track a man across solid rock two weeks after his passing (it’s not nearly as hard as it sounds). You can find Tom’s books and his school website online. I’ve attended Tom’s classes and what he teaches about tracking is absolutely amazing! I have diagrams of various animal prints – such as humans, deer and dogs – that are used to identify pressure releases. PRs are tiny marks in the track that tell the sex, whether the animal is hungry or full, anxious or calm, angry or happy, pregnant or barren, aroused or unaroused, etc. Also, tracks must be read in conjunction with what Tom calls “sign tracking”. These are marks appearing on the landscape such as broken twigs, compressed leaves, food plants, slivers of hair, other tracks and more. This tells what an animal might have been doing in the area. For example, I was at Axton Landing and saw a multitude of deer tracks. One track in particular was near the water and I could tell by the pressure releases that the deer had turned it’s head to look across the water. Sure enough on the opposite bank I spotted what was either a coyote or bobcat track (couldn’t get close enough to distinguish). (BTW: you can tell a dog from a coyote by looking at the two inner toes. On a coyote they are smaller than the outer toes. On a dog they are the same size. A good place to see this is at Rich Lake in Newcomb) To become a good tracker one should start with a tracking box of sand. As you get better you upgrade to harder and harder substrates until you can spot tracks on hard forest floors. So, rather than waiting until summer we could start in someone’s backyard with a track box. Also, the way to age tracks is to use something called the “Wisdom of the Marks.” This involves making holes of various depths at six hour intervals. You watch these holes carefully and gradually identify when they were made. Thanks for writing and I look forward to hearing from you.