Tracking and Carving in the Snow

Thursday morning I got out into the forest again for a decent length walk, there wasn't any wind there the temperature was only about -6 centigrade and there had been a lot of snow fall the night before.

Rabbit Tracks
Despite the fact there was 6" on snow off the paths there was a lot of good tracking to be done - probably my greatest tracking achievements! I found a set of rabbit tracks in their traditional triangular shape and managed to back-track them to a bury underneath a fallen tree. The total length was around 300m and it was interesting to note that the rabbit kept largely to the packed trails (1-2" hard snow) rather than the deeper stuff where it could. I also managed to pick up some feeding sign (birch buds) that was in association with the tracks.

Deer Trailing
At one point the track was intersected by a deer trail which I was able to follow for about half an hour, until getting to the meadow on the edge of the wood where there were a huge number of criss-crossing deer tracks. These tracks were obviously made at low speeds - mostly walking or standing and it was interesting to see how small a space deer can fit through.
I managed to find a deer bed which was very easy to see - a large scrape with all the snow cleared all the way down to the frozen earth. It must have been quite an effort. I also managed to find some feeding sign in association with these tracks, the shoots had been cut off much more cleanly than the rabbit signs and there were clear standing prints by the shoots.

Birds on the trees
I also had the chance to look out for the ever present wood peckers (green today, last week I'd seen a jet black one) whose noise carries a huge distance in the cold. More entertaining than the woodpeckers are the little blue and yellow birds standing upside down on pine trees and pulling off slithers of bark. Their very fast chirping song is quite distinctive and after having gone through the RSPB Bird Identifier I believe that they are nuthatches.

Mors' Predator Call
Whilst walking around I also had a go at carving what Mors Kochanski refers to as a "predator call" in the Hare chapter of Bushcraft. Mine was a bit oversized as I only had my pocket knife with me and was working on dead standing beech wood (chosen to minimize impact). I batoned the SAK through without difficulty though batons and folders are probably not an advisable combination. I then carved out a "V" shape and tied the 2 halves back together using some willow bark I stripped off bushes on a field margin. I picked a piece of long thin birch bark to use as a reed and was delighted to get a sound out quite easily. It sounded like a mix between a kazoo and a whistle. I'll try making a smaller one again in the near future and see If I can figure out how to change the tone more easily and get more of a squeal.

Taking Note
Sadly, I don't have any photos as our cameras are in transit from Britain to Poland; I have a notebook with sketches which I'll talk about in a future post and maybe scan at a later date.
I've got a collection of sketches of track patterns and shapes, the longer trail patterns, pictures of the bitten off shoot ends as well as the deer bed. I also drew my version of the predator call and added some bird sketches to the notes on their behaviour. I hope to one day add some sketches to the blog in the style of the old fashioned woodcraft books.

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