Have you any handy tracking tips or kit.

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Mar 15, 2011
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Hi Max
You got to love that low sun angle it’s the long shadows that give the pictures real depth and bring the track’s to life.
. . .

DSC01181.jpg
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] .


And your right some days you go out with all the kit and it all goes wrong, and then the next day in the rain with no shadows under the worst possible light conditions bingo really fine detailed images .

Boot_print_and_pheasant.jpg
.



Maybe it's the camera meter, maybe it the macro?
later Bro
 
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Bushwhacker

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Jun 26, 2008
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It's almost a rarity to see anything regarding tracking or wildlife on here with all the kit kit kit kit kit kit kit kit jabbah jabbah. Let's keep it going.
 
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Mar 15, 2011
1,118
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Hi Bushwhacker.
I certainly get a dose of the shine kit syndrome now and again and very disappointing most of it to be honest,
but fortunately after many years of long distance walks I’ve managed to dump most of it.
light is fast and easy.
Later Bro.
 
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Max, the Maasai game scouts with whom we work are in the Olkirimatian and Shompole region, between the Mara and Amboseli. It's a superb wildlife area but far off the normal tourism route, and we're assisting the group ranch community there to attract more visitors. Their game scouts aren't supported by the government, although they do receive basic training through KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service).

We led a safari from rim to rim across the Rift Valley there. Good tracking:

Roseannandliontracks.jpg
 
Yes, and cubs too. We heard them pretty close that night.

This Maasai community is doing an amazing job of balancing livestock and wildlife. Lions are actually on the increase there, but livestock losses are low because the wild prey base is healthy - and, of course, because there's a Maasai with a spear accompanying every herd of cattle.

The game scouts patrol on bicycles. Talk about cat bait . . .
 
Mar 15, 2011
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Here’s a trick that's maybe of some use, lots of books recommend carrying a magnifying glass when out tracking however for anyone who is already carrying a set of binoculars or a monocular simply turn it round, actually works very well.
Opticron_8x30.jpg
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Opticron_8x30_waterproof.jpg

.burnt tobacco and cigarette ash.
burnt_tobacco_and_cigarette_ash.jpg
 
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Mar 15, 2011
1,118
7
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Just tried using a torch (120 lumen's) to sidelight tracks in dull overcast weather it gives a reasonable contrast but not too sure as to the practical application if any other than for photography, the camera meter and shutter speed seems to struggle a bit with the light conditions, but it can cast shadows.

Casting shadows or increasing surrounding contrast.
walkabout_484.jpg
Roe Deer..Hare
walkabout_114.jpg
.Dog


Night Photography is a lot more awkward, the extreme light conditions, mainly the camera meter and the internally mounted flash that just floods the picture with light, a good torch or an external camera flash gun positioned to one side would cast quite a nice shadow.
Dog_trackion_Snow.jpg
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night_bee_006.jpg
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Snow_Track.jpg



At night, a torch taped to the end of a tracking stick at a right angle might help.
I seem to recall using the filters to track at night in the snow Blue and Green worked quite well if I remember correctly.

I'll try it at night next using the coloured filters you don’t know until you try.It might work ,,,,,red filter, Worked OK.

snow_2_004.jpg
..

IR
IR_2_003.jpg
.
 
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Bushwhacker

Banned
Jun 26, 2008
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By coincidence I've just been out to some otter survey sites this evening as I have to cover someone elses patch as well as my own and ended up underneath a bridge in poor light. I tried to use a torch to get some pics but it seems I need some practise with my camera work as I couldn't get the shot I wanted. I'll post them up in the otter thread tomorrow.
 
Mar 15, 2011
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Sand traps or track box aka Spoor Pit.

These are pretty handy for getting a clear print and sussing out what’s in the local area.
First use the natural vegetation to your advantage.
In the first image you can see how the tree and the felled tree top have created a natural bottle neck on the track funnelling the local wildlife through a small area and over the sand trap.



Hand sprinkle the sand along the path about 10mm deep for approximately 1 meter to get stride pattern, 12 good handfuls of sand should be plenty..


Dampen down with water and role flat with your tracking stick, or flatten off with a field guide,if you carry one or alternatively inflate a Polly bag and very lightly press all over to get a smooth flat surface.


Finished job.


Check 24 or 48 hours later "here’s one I made earlier" Pheasant, Blackbird, Badger and Mink.


Occasionally they get wrecked by mountain bikers, but still a good example of transfer.
 
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ocean1975

Full Member
Jan 10, 2009
675
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rochester, kent
Funny you should mention sand traps as i decided to make a portable one tonight.Here a few pictures.
sandtrapbox.jpg

sandboxraked.jpg

myfoot.jpg

I am hoping to get out at the weekend to get some badger prints.
 
Feb 15, 2011
3,860
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Not to sure about the 2nd photo, a japanese gardener prehaps but the 3rd pic is definatly a human foot print,.........
Joking aside I hope you can persuade some critters to walk on it, that's a pretty cool contraption.
 
Mar 15, 2011
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Nice one! ocean.
Tom Brown jr keeps one in his basement so he can practise his tracking all winter.
I am a bit worried though, I can see a dog toy there.
 
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ocean1975

Full Member
Jan 10, 2009
675
67
rochester, kent
Your right that kong is my dogs favorite toy,i have been getting him to walk over the sand trap lol.I'm taking it up the woods over the weekend to hopefully get some badger tracks,as there is alot of evidence there active there fresh scat in the latrines with wheat in them from the fields that surround the woodland.I'm new to tracking so im loving this thread :)
 
Mar 15, 2011
1,118
7
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Hi OCEAN
Hey Bro.
Welcome to the tracking forum. I only found this site recently but there are a lot of dudes that really know there stuff here.
If you need a good tracking book I can highly recommend Animals Tracks, Trails and Signs By Brown, Lawrence,and Pope a great field guide £1.55 amazon.
Good luck with the Badgers this weekend.
Later Bro.
 
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Mar 15, 2011
1,118
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Gait pattern's.
This is a great exercise.

Regardless of the species at first, take any opportunity that presents itself of practicing this exercise. Start by marking the tracks at the rear edge using 8 lollypop sticks, twigs, pencils, tent pegs whatever you’ve got handy. By looking down the trail along the median line just above ground level and you will easily notice any regular patterns in the gait, the straddle width and stride length. Once you have practiced this a fue times, the next thing to do is concentrate on 1 or 2 particular animals, sketch or start a photographing record of all the main gait's, stalking, walk, trot, run, gallop, jumping and bounding.

I also found it useful to try and picture in my minds eye the sequins of footfalls, of course this is where a good field guide became invaluable.

Red Squirrel bounding over ice and snow.


Brown Hare Lepus capensis.
Bounding regular pattern three in a row or y shaped.
. .

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus.
All classic lagomorph.
. .

Domestic Cat Felis cattus.
Image 1 Walking 2 leaping across very fine silt, some claws visible, 3 Leaping on packed snow.
1 2 3

Fox Vulpes vulpes.
Images trotting, tracks in diagonal pairs and bounding gait tracks in groups of 4.
.

Badger Meles meles.
Walking track in a zigzag pattern with feet turned slightly inward.
2 .

Otter. Lutra lutra.
Image 1,2 and 3 otter bounding on sand no tail drag visible.



Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus .
Getting a track image on anything other than snow or mud can be quite difficult at the best of times but fortunately deer tend to leave a very distinctive chop mark on green vegetation.
.




Again some of the primary benefits of this exercise are, dirt time, constant observation of tracks. When a track is apparently absent, because you have put in the dirt time and know the sequins of foot falls, eventually you should instinctively know where to look for the next sign, Perhaps best off all when the going gets tough for example in long grass or deep snow where the track is not visible the gait pattern will be all the sign you need to get a ID.

On the down side, One thing I have noticed with this exercise is some of the reference materials use in locomotion have slightly different terminology, descriptions and classifications of gait speeds so watch out for that.
 
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Mar 15, 2011
1,118
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Reading sign in isolation can be problematic, and Tracks that that don’t conform especially on soft mud or wet surfaces and read in isolation can be very misleading.

Example image 1:
Top right soft rounded track with barely visible claw marks looks very cat like, but actually just a Domestic Dog
Dog possibly stretching and lifting the front pads and claws clear from the ground,(note the elongated left digital pad) the five short angled lines just below the dog track are the treads from a trainer or boot.
2nd image: I had to get down to the ground and give this track a double take. This time on very soft mud, again another very cat like track at first glance, if the mud was a fraction harder and in isolation?
.


Image 3:
With claw marks present one could easily assume these tracks were that of a Canine but the tracks are however really a wild or domestic cat on very fine silt, perhaps using its digital pads to spread its weight or claws for extra grip.



I "try" not to jump to any conclusions at the first sign or track, but just keep tracking for a while, keep gathering information and keep trying to building up on the big picture, and then I'm probably still wrong.

And the questions are....... Who, What, When, How, Where and Why.
Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child.
 
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Mar 15, 2011
1,118
7
on the heather
Tracking Kit
Fortunately tracking requires very little kit and will vary depending on who or what you are tracking, the terrain, the climate and length of time you expect be out tracking.
Basically everything is optional, personal, and the less you carry the better.
I carry an OS map 1:25 000 or 1:50 000 scale, track field guide, tide table and a 6" ruler marked off as a scale for photography a short roll of crepe paper and 8 lollipop sticks for marking off tracks and trail markers in one poly bag. My kit also includes a flexible tape measure, tracking stick a small molle torch a small mirror and one or two film tubs and a large poly bag for finds, teeth, bones, skulls, cones, pellets, hair, feathers, just whatever I find and takes my fancy, a note-sketch book and a camera for keeping a photographic record and some plaster for casting tracks. If you’re studying avian tracks, a protractor will also be very useful for measuring toe angle, and that's about it.


note: David Diaz, acknowledged tracking expert recommends wearing protective eye wear.
.. .

The main reason I like to keep it as light as possible is I have around a dozen field guides I use depending on the time of year or area I will be walking or tracking, Wild Flowers, Fungi, Butterflies, Birds, The Sea Shore, Wild Foods, Trees, Hill Tracks, anyway you get the picture.
Along with all the usual kit in a daysack, hydration pack, MRE meal, knife, 2nd torch, monocular, small first aid kit, hat, gloves, bivi bag, dry bag, midge net, spare batters, one small pack of paper handkerchiefs aka bog role, dry wash gel, Survival kit, Acme predator call, whisper dust and some gorilla tape, hence the reason to keep it as light as possible.


To quote Bob Carss.
The Complete Guide to Tracking: New Rev Ed, 2009, Page 215.

"" If it is of use, take it,’ but don’t fall into the trap of dressing up like a Christmas tree.
A good many trackers that I have had the privilege of being associated with have never heard of most of the items listed, never mind used them, and even if they had it wouldn't have made them any better trackers than they already were. There is no substitute for experience.
""


Have you any handy tracking tips or kit?.
Being relatively new to tracking I would love to know what other people use or carry when out tracking...

((Just to practice what others preach, I've chucked a pair of polarized sunglasses in the pack,))
 
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