Monday, September 6, 2010

Tracker up!

My kids left the gate open yesterday afternoon and my dogs ran off.  I figured that they would come back in a couple of hours and its a holiday weekend so the dog catcher has the day off I'm sure.  Besides, one of them is half coyote so I figured that she was just out chasing rabbits.  By the time that I came home from work today (yes I had to work on Labor Day) they were still not home.  I drove around the the back roads to see if I could spot them and had no luck.  I went home for a while and then decided to go track them. 

Its not every day that I get to go out a get some tracking practice.  I figured that the most likely place to start was the scrub forest behind the house so I set out to find some spore.  I moved about halfway up the hill and came to a fence line.  I systematically checked the fence for signs of a crossing and eventually located the spore.  I immediately identified it as my two dogs primarily from the first set of prints.  The bigger of the two dogs has a lot of hair between her paws and she has a limp on the rear right leg.  I followed their tracks for a while and they seemed to be just curiously checking everything out and moving randomly around with no purpose.  I then came to a spore separation point and decided to follow the bigger dog.  The bigger dog is the mother and I knew that the other would not stray too far.  I also figured that she was easier to follow  and her tracks were more identifiable.  After the spore separation point there was evidence of a "shotgun start"  they were not wandering they were hunting.  I did not find and carcass so they must have lost their prey.  The tracks came back together and headed out deep into the forest on a deer run.  I had guessed that they wandered out on the deer run and that they would be gone for a couple days.  I headed back home and decided to stop with a  great view of the valley to quickly reflect back on the event.  This is what I have found.

1) My dogs seem to work well as a team but the big ones limp cost them a meal.
2) Family pets are easier to track than wild animals.
3) Pets are predictable.
4) Every track has a story to tell and the better you know the quarry the easier it is to follow.
5) Reading sign and spore is just like reading a book but you have to learn the written language first.
6) Never give up!

After my reflection I headed back to the house to find that the dogs returned home in my short absence.  Either they knew that I was on their tail and decided to go home, or they just couldn't get a meal this time out.  In any event if I had stayed on the tracks I would have found that they were still in the area and I might have found or at least spotted them before they went home. 

I think that we are going to have to leave the gate open more often that was good training.  I don't know if this does anybody any good but I thought that I would share the experience. 

I hope that you all had a good labor day.