Mariton: Signs of the Season

January 30, 2015

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Snow shoe tracks

(My snowshoe tracks on the Main Trail, in the meadow.)

I have been snow shoeing on the trails this week.  The conditions have been good, and it has been great to get out in the woods.

I really enjoy walking in the snow to look at tracks and figure out what animals are doing.  Long before we had trail cameras, “woodsmen” could read the subtlest signs in nature.  I think I am a pretty good tracker, but know I am nowhere as good as my Grandpa.  Technology has dulled our senses, and lack of use has weakened our skills.  Anyone should be able to find tracks in the snow though.  It is fun to flex our primordial muscles and figure out what the tracks are telling us.

Fox hunted here

(A fox hunted here.)

The photo above shows where a fox dug into the snow for a rodent.  Foxes can hear rodents, like voles, moving under a few feet of snow.

Deer bed

(The dark oval is a deer bed.)

So far this winter has been fun, because there have been frequent little snow events.  These little flurries help me gauge when the animal walked by.  There is just enough snow in the deer bed in the photo above for me to know that a deer slept right in the middle of the River Lookout Trail yesterday afternoon.  My fresh tracks are just to the right of the deer bed.

It was time spent with Grandpa, and my fascination with tracks as a child that has helped me retain some tracking skills.  It is never too late to start practicing, and this winter is ideal.