Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I have learned a lot about the outdoors throughout my life. Not hard to imagine considering my career and lifestyle involves the outdoors more than the average person. I often say, the biggest lesson you can learn is there is so much more to learn. In the grand scheme of things, I know very little about the outdoors.
I often tagged along with groups that were tracking game for a meal. I recall once I was with a group, and a man named Mike stopped as we stalked quietly through the forest, he made eye contact with me and pointed at a bare spot on the forest floor, and he whispered "You can see where a turkey has been scratching, looking for food." He paused, took a couple of steps and stopped again "Here you can see some turkey tracks in the mud..." I was amazed at the thought of how many times I had undoubtedly walked past signs of wildlife such as this without ever being aware of their existence. Tracking was something that had interested me from that point on...
Fox tracks, walking. I assume Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Grey Fox) as they are more common and has been spotted on campus, though it could very well be the less common Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox.) Note the Sylvilagus floridanus (Eastern Cottontail Rabbit) Tracks are filled with snow, a sign this track was made in the midst of the falling snow.
So whats the problem? Well this often happens to me, I get excited about something, may even purchase a book or two on the matter, then life has a way of diverting me. So here I am, almost twenty years out of the country, and I still only know how to track three animals! So today I took advantage of the snow and went to see what I could find on my lunch. On campus, in a measly half hour, I found countless tracks. I was inspired again, and found a simple resource for identifying tracks on the Missouri Department of Conservations website here. Another great resource is "The Wild Mammals of Missouri" digitally available here.
A good guess would be a rodent species, the tunneling makes me suspicious of a Microtus (vole) species.
I am no longer a hunter in the traditional sense. I prefer to hunt with my eyes and a camera, and enjoy the beauty of animals from a distance, and leave them alone so I, and others, may enjoy them another day. I hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy some tracks in the snow while they last.
Posted by Dan Porter at 10:29 AM