Trailing with Brian McConnell

To me, trailing is connecting an animal’s individual tracks to tell a story.  The story of how the animal is moving through the forest and to tell when they paused to eat or where they stopped to rest.

I’ll be honest I can convince myself that I’m seeing tracks where none exist…I need all the help I can get, this is where Brian McConnell comes in.  Hunter extraordinaire and cooker of caribou meat he is also the first Senior Tracker designated in the United States under the Cybertracker evaluation system. He has agreed to take a lucky few into the forest one weekend a month for the next couple of months and help us to see the trail.

Our first exercise was to determine the age of foot prints, to be able to tell fresh tracks from old.  He pointed out things to start to look for, broken branches, the impressions of the tread on the bottom of your shoes (what he calls lugs), for dirt that fell from the bottom of shoe left on the leaves and how plants bruise when they are stepped on.  To know the weather: when was the last time it rained?

Next we started to follow a trail…learning to look for heel impressions, creases in leaves, the color changes in tracks known as flagging (fresh prints show up slightly darker in color than the surrounding ground) and to begin  to look ahead and follow the obvious route.

I spent the weekend looking at the ground I noticed that spring has finally came to Washington.  Stinging nettle was making her yearly appearance, new growth on the dandelions and Indium plum was getting ready to show its flowers….Michelle

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