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Tracking Basics

ninefivefox

Mors Kochanski
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Tracking for beginners

Tracking is something that can hold the imagination of young and old alike, and you don’t have to be an expert to get enjoyment out of it. Depending on your skill level depends on the degree of sign you will pick up. When beginning to learn to track you are increasing your ability to detect sign by picking up something that is out of place in the bush.

For beginner trackers we are looking for 5 (I think there is a sixth one but I can’t think of it) areas or categories of things that are out of place with their surrounding and that is really the key to tracking identifying the thing or “sign” that is out of place. The categories are; Disturbance, Transfer, Discardable, Regularity, and Colour Change. Sign can broadly be classed as ground sign, anything from subterranean to about boot height and the second class is top sign, this incorporates from above boot height to the tops of trees. It’s important to note that top sign incorporates the movement of shrubs and saplings which are caused by contact, usually at ground level, by a person or animal. One example of top sign is when you are hunting with dogs and you can’t see your dogs but you can see the grass moving where the dog is.

Disturbance – this is just as the name suggests a disturbed area which is unnatural; for example animals digging or scratching or a rock that has been rolled.

Transfer – this is when a natural material is found where it does not naturally occur; for example mud or water from a creek bed or when animals leave long grass they will transfer some of that grass to the next environment.

Discardable – this normally refers to artificial matter dropped by a human; however, scat, hair or fur could be grouped in this category.

Regularity – this refers to an unnaturally occurring imprint or pattern for example a footprint has a distinctive shape that is not naturally occurring.

Colour Change – this refers to natural material (as all unnatural material is disgardable) it is commonly found when damage occurs to vegetation, for example in the jungle a damaged leaf with a partially broken stem will have its underneath visible and this is a different colour to all the other leaves.

Some of these categories will appear to overlap that’s not an issue for example; if you observe a pile of leaf litter the top are all brown but your eye is drawn to colour change because there is a leaf that has been disturbed and flipped over and now has a yellow side showing.

I had hoped to post pictures of examples of all of these but with my back I just can’t get out, I also plan to regularly update this thread and we will look at ageing, casting patterns judging numbers, and other related stuff.
 
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Great stuff NNF. I'm going to follow this thread carefully.
 

hillbilly

Lofty Wiseman
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I find tracking one of the more interesting past times when in the bush, thanks or starting this thread as it will be a long one i'm asuming. Looking at different paw prints and markings and depressions makes walking slow exciting.
 

peter.

Rüdiger Nehberg
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I have enough trouble following a marked trail. Thanks for starting this thread. It will be an interesting education
 

Folcwigga

Russell Coight
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An easy example of transfer is looking at footprints on a beach. As a person walks they kick the sand in their direction of travel, whether walking forward or backwards. You can try this out yourself and get the basic concept of it and how it works with water, dirt, etc.
 

ninefivefox

Mors Kochanski
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An easy example of transfer is looking at footprints on a beach. As a person walks they kick the sand in their direction of travel, whether walking forward or backwards. You can try this out yourself and get the basic concept of it and how it works with water, dirt, etc.

That's a good example;

You will notice "colour change" if it's fresh, regularity from the impression and once the tracks leave the sand they will continue to transfer sand, for a short distance, to the next environment.
 
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