July 2015: Tracking 101–The Art & Science of Understanding Wildlife

A porcupine visiting a wild apple tree, and leaving spoor in its wake.

Location: Northeast Nova Scotia, Twa Corbies Hollow, approx. 1 hr from New Glasgow and Antigonish
Date & Time: July 11 & 12, beginning 0900 Saturday; ending 1600 Sunday.
Cost: $100 per person

Equipment Required: Warm to cool weather outdoors clothing for wet and dry conditions, and waterproof, insulated hiker boots.  Also mandatory: knife, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpack, compass and waterproof matches.  Also bring any other personal outdoor gear and toiletries you require. Recommended: binoculars and camera.

Level: beginner to advanced

Contact: twa.corbies.hollow@gmail.com

A track of a large buck I trailed one fine autumn day.

Join tracker and wilderness veteran of thirty years, Cliff Seruntine, and learn to speak the language of the land during a three day guided tracking course in the field.  Camp in provided tipis or lean-to’s and enjoy some fine tales over the campfire.

Course Description: Animals speak in all kinds of ways, even if they don’t use the spoken word. Their language is honest and straightforward–communicated in what they do, where they go, and what they leave behind.

In this two day and one night course, students will wander the expansive woods and glades around Twa Corbies Hollow and learn to identify the tracks of various wildlife that may include white tail deer, moose, coyotes, black bears, fishers, martens, foxes, squirrels, beavers and more.  They will learn how to identify game trails, how to identify tracks, how to interpret droppings and learn where animals have been spending their time, what they’ve been eating and what they’e been doing.  They will learn to put the various clues of the land together to determine age of trails and the lifeways of animals.  They will learn to cast tracks with plaster and how to shoot useful photographs of tracks and other spoor.  And they will learn how to camouflage themselves and take advantage of cover to observe and photograph wildlife.

A trail used by both white tail deer and black bears.

Students will camp at either of the base camps that are part of the school.  Tipis, lean-to’s or other bushcraft shelters will be provided though students are welcomed to bring their own tents if they prefer.  Students will require their own backpacks, sleeping bags and sleeping pads.  Students should bring their own meals.  Dinner will be sausages and camp bread made over the fire.

A scent post used by two coyotes and an adventurous porcupine.

Because this course will require two days in the woods with one night at camp, and a considerable amount of hiking, participants must be in moderately good health and know they are capable of up to five miles hiking through rough terrain per day.  Good outdoor clothing and footwear are mandatory, as is a good backcountry knife.  Weather can vary greatly at this time of year, so be prepared for warm to cold weather, and wet or dry conditions.  July is an ideal time for tracking as the animals are busy but the clues are subtle, requiring the development of skill to recognize and interpret them.

No tracking background or experience is required.  However, all students should have a basic understanding of woodland hiking and camping skills.

Your teacher: Author and naturalist, Cliff Seruntine, is a certified psychotherapist, shaman, horseman, and fiddler. He is also a veteran of some of the most rugged wilderness on Earth–the Alaskan bush–where he dwelt at a remote cabin for many years.  Cliff now resides on a homestead in the Nova Scotia highlands and brings a polymath, spiritual perspective to Nature experiences and decades of wilderness living know-how to his courses.

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